Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication Studies

Document Type



This study explores recent attempts by the hip hop community to be recognized in the mainstream political sphere and to have its concerns acknowledged and addressed. This project examines how the scholarship of hip hop (musicology), rhetoric (counterpublic spheres), politics and social movement theory intertwine, and to demonstrate how hip hop’s community can emerge as a counterpublic sphere that could become a social movement capable of altering the current cultural and political landscape in the United States. Although hip hop as a culture consists of four major elements: breakdancing, graffiti art, deejaying, and rapping, this study focuses on rappers and the use of rap music in the political sphere. It suggests that hip hop is a counterpublic sphere that has the power to affect culture and politics and examines attempts by both liberal and conservative politicians and organizations to garner the hip hop community’s vote. It then discusses political opportunity theory and suggests that it may help the hip hop community emerge as a social movement capable of seizing its political opportunities. It relies upon the rhetorical work of the counterpublic sphere theory as a result of the hip hop community seeking a voice and recognition in the political public sphere. This serves as one of the basis for creating a counterpublic sphere.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Grey, Stephanie H.



Included in

Communication Commons