Understanding the Formation and Maintenance of the Conservative Identity in Oklahoma.
Author(s)Howard, J. Marsh
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AbstractThis qualitative study explored how Oklahoma conservatives constructed and understood their conservative identities, as well as the ideas and people they attributed as influencing their identities. Drawing upon ethnographic methods, I conducted field observations at six public events hosted by conservative political groups and interviewed fifteen self-described conservatives, using a semi-structured interview format. Additionally, I collected approximately 1,300 `conversations' from conservative groups on Facebook. Using Blumer's (1969) symbolic interactionism, I interpreted the data, seeking to find common symbols and understandings that "give meaning to people's interactions" (Patton, 2002). Findings indicate that, while symbols salient to the conservative experience emerged consistently across the data, the meanings participants gave to those symbols changed per context; public identity performances expressed ideological and moral absolutism, while interview participants expressed nuance, flexibility and ideological distancing. Furthermore, I found that participants attributed their conservative identities, in part, to influential family members' character traits more so than party affiliation.
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