Discourse on diversity: A qualitative study of a college communication course in multiculturalism

Mary V Gormley, University of Rhode Island


The result of a semester long participant-observation study of an upper level Communication Studies course on multiculturalism, this dissertation investigates the efforts that students undertake with regard to multiculturalism, collaboration, and social change. Critical multiculturalism, like other forms of multiculturalism, encourages a pluralist perspective and acceptance of diversity, but it also looks at the social structures that underlie difference, at the intersections of differences, and at issues of privilege, power, oppression and social justice. It focuses not on difference as essentialist but as constructed, and it seeks to create and/or recognize opportunities to transform power relations. Similarly, cultural geography and spatial rhetorics demonstrate how identity is constructed through experiences and associations with space and place. Thus they also provide ways to both interpret the practices and achieve the goals of critical multiculturalism. Through analysis of students' writing and mapping, of class discussion, and of course structure, this study illustrates the unrecognized ways that spatial rhetorics inform and influence the discursive practices of students working towards accepting differences and reaching consensus while in the process of planning a community service project. ^

Subject Area

Education, Bilingual and Multicultural|Language, Rhetoric and Composition|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Mary V Gormley, "Discourse on diversity: A qualitative study of a college communication course in multiculturalism" (2006). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3239907.