Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name



Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology

First Advisor

Ku, Jane


2016 Presidential Election, Communicative Rationality, Digital Publics, Habermas, Public Sphere, Reddit

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


Centring around the 2016 American election, this thesis explores how Reddit and its subreddits actualize Habermas’ notion of the public sphere and communicative rationality. It compares and contrasts two of the largest and most popular political subreddits, /r/Politics and /r/The_Donald, to analyze how political groups contextualize political issues, and the discourse that manifests regarding them. The purpose is not to study all the ways in which individuals use Reddit to discuss general politics, but the ways in which consensus and majority opinions are reached and perpetuated through these subreddits. This thesis seeks to examine the extent to which political discussion on the social news aggregate website Reddit facilitates the conditions of a public sphere, and fosters democratic communicative characteristics.