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HARIMAN, Robert and LUCATIES, John Louis

Spring 2001, pages 5-32

Dissent and Emotional Management in a Liberal-Democratic Society: The Kent State Iconic Photograph

Abstract: Public discourse in contemporary Western democracies is constructed, studied, and policed according to a general suppression or suspicion of emotional display, which then can become a mode of dissent. These tendencies are evident in the use of visual images in the public media. An icon of emotional public protest-the young woman screaming over the murdered Kent State student on the ground before her-reveals how visual practices and emotional display are important for democratic life. The iconic photograph constitutes citizenship as an emotional construct while it shapes emotions according to norms of public order. This representation of dissent provides resources for advocacy and change, but it also is vulnerable to narratives of fragmentation and control.

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