Volume 12, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2210-4119
  • E-ISSN: 2210-4127
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



This article examines how speech centric legal and public policy interpretations of the U.S. First Amendment – which guarantees constitutional protection for the freedoms of speech, press, religion, and assembly, from government constraint – tend to significantly impede democratic political discourse in the public sphere. Among other problems, speech centricity diminishes the importance of listening, adding to the crises of polarization and demonization now fracturing public political discourse. By drawing upon dialogical theory, speech act theory, and theories of listening, the essay explores how a listening-based perspective on legal and policy conceptions of free expression could perhaps reinvigorate political discourse.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Austin, John Langshaw
    1962How to Do Things with Words. London: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce
    Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, 494 U.S. 652 (1990)
  3. Barber, Benjamin R.
    1984Strong Democracy: Participatory Politics for a New Age. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Bakhtin, M. Mikhail
    1984Problems of Dostoyevsky’s Poetics. Ed. byMichael Holquist, translated byCaryl Emerson and Michael Holquist. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. 10.5749/j.ctt22727z1
    https://doi.org/10.5749/j.ctt22727z1 [Google Scholar]
  5. Bakhtin, Mikhail Mikhailovich
    1986Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. Translated byVern W. McGee. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Benson, Rodney
    2013Shaping Immigration News: A French-American Comparison. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9781139034326
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139034326 [Google Scholar]
  7. Buckley v. Valeo
    Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S.1 (1976) 10.1086/scr.1976.3108757
  8. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
    Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S.310 (2010).
  9. Clark, Eve V. and Josie Bernicot
    2008 “Repetition as Ratification. How Parents and Children Place Information in Common Ground.” Journal of Child Language35(2): 349–371. 10.1017/S0305000907008537
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0305000907008537 [Google Scholar]
  10. Corradi Fiumara, Gemma
    1995The Other Side of Language: A Philosophy of Listening. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Crick, Bernard
    1992In Defense of Politics. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. 2002Democracy: A Very Short Introduction. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Douglass, Frederick
    1860 (December14). “Frederick Douglass at Music Hall.” The Liberator30: 50.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Federal Communications Commission
    Federal Communications Commission 1949 “In the Matter of Editorializing by Broadcast Licensees. Report of the Commission.” No.8516.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Gregorian, Vartan
    2002 (October17). “Libraries as Acts of Civic Renewal.” Speech to the Kansas City Club, Kansas City, Missouri. https://www.kclibrary.org/signature-events/evening-vartan-gregorian
  16. Guo, Lei and Maxwell E. McCombs
    (eds.) 2016The Power of Information Networks: New Directions for Agenda Setting. New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Humboldt, Wilhelm von
    1963Humanist Without Portfolio: An Anthology of the Writings of Wilhelm von Humboldt. Trans. byMarianne Cowan. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Jakubinskij, Lev P.
    1979 “On Verbal Dialogue.“ Trans.Jane E. Knox. Dispositio. Revista Hispanica de Semiotica LiterariaIV (11–12): 321–336.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Jaworski, Adam and Crispin Thurlow
    2009 “Taking an Elitist Stance.” InStance. Sociolinguistic Perspectives, ed. byAlexandra M. Jaffe, 195–226. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195331646.003.0009
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195331646.003.0009 [Google Scholar]
  20. Kleindienst v. Mandel
    Kleindienst v. Mandel, 408 U.S.753 (1972).
  21. Kim, Son Ho
    2011The Voice on Paper: A Dialogic Critique of Public Opinion Polling. Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania. https://www.proquest.com/docview/923280809/abstract/AC01B42ACF394644PQ/1
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Lacey, Kate
    2013Listening Publics: The Politics and Experience of Listening in the Media Age. Cambridge: Polity Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Lamont v. Postmaster General
    Lamont v. Postmaster General, 381 U.S.301 (1965).
  24. Lim, Sun Sun
    2020 “Manufacturing Hate 4.0. Can Media Studies Rise to the Challenge?” Television and New Media21(6): 602–607. 10.1177/1527476420918825
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1527476420918825 [Google Scholar]
  25. Lipari, Lisbeth
    1999 “Polling as Ritual.” Journal of Communication49(1): 83. 10.1111/j.1460‑2466.1999.tb02783.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.1999.tb02783.x [Google Scholar]
  26. 2000 “Toward a Discourse Approach to Polling.” Discourse Studies2(2): 187–215. 10.1177/1461445600002002003
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1461445600002002003 [Google Scholar]
  27. 2014aListening, Thinking, Being. Toward an Ethics of Attunement. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. 2014b “On Interlistening and the Idea of Dialogue.” Theory and Psychology24(4): 504–523. 10.1177/0959354314540765
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0959354314540765 [Google Scholar]
  29. 2017 “The Speech We Do Not Speak. Dialogic Mind, Praxis, and Ethics.” Language and Dialogue7(1): 45–62. 10.1075/ld.7.1.04lip
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ld.7.1.04lip [Google Scholar]
  30. Matzko, Paul
    2020The Radio Right. How a Band of Broadcasters Took on the Federal Government and Built the Modern Conservative Movement. Kettering: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/oso/9780190073220.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780190073220.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  31. McGee, Michael Calvin
    1980 “The ‘Ideograph’. A Link Between Rhetoric and Ideology.” Quarterly Journal of Speech66(1): 1–16. 10.1080/00335638009383499
    https://doi.org/10.1080/00335638009383499 [Google Scholar]
  32. Mill, John Stuart
    2001On Liberty. Electronic resource. London: Electric Book Co.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. New York Times Co. v. Sullivan
    New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 270 (1964) 10.1056/NEJM196402132700731
  34. New York Times Co. v. United States
    New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 U.S.713 (1971).
  35. Norrick, Neal R.
    2009 “Ratifying and Rejecting Listener Assessments in the Course of Multi-Unit Turns.” Saarland Working Papers in Linguistics (SWPL) (3): 1–20.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Nystrand, Martin, Wu, Lawrence L., Gamoran, Adam, Zeiser, Susie and David A. Long
    2003 “Questions in Time: Investigating the Structure and Dynamics of Unfolding Classroom Discourse.” Discourse Processes35(2): 135–198. 10.1207/S15326950DP3502_3
    https://doi.org/10.1207/S15326950DP3502_3 [Google Scholar]
  37. Peters, John Durham
    2005Courting the Abyss: Free Speech and Liberal Tradition. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. 10.7208/chicago/9780226662756.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226662756.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  38. Potter, Nancy
    2000 “Giving Uptake.” Social Theory and Practice26(3): 479–508. 10.5840/soctheorpract200026315
    https://doi.org/10.5840/soctheorpract200026315 [Google Scholar]
  39. Radio Act, Pub. L
    Radio Act, Pub. L 1927 No. 47 U.S.C. 4.
  40. Red Lion Broadcasting Co., Inc. v. FCC
    Red Lion Broadcasting Co., Inc. v. FCC, 395 U.S.367 (1969).
  41. Ryfe, David Michael
    2007 “The Future of Media Politics.” Rhetoric and Public Affairs10(4): 723–738. 10.1353/rap.2008.0034
    https://doi.org/10.1353/rap.2008.0034 [Google Scholar]
  42. Sandel, Michael
    2020The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good?New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Sbisà, Marina
    2007 “How to Read Austin.” Pragmatics17(3): 461–473. 10.1075/prag.17.3.06sbi
    https://doi.org/10.1075/prag.17.3.06sbi [Google Scholar]
  44. Schudson, Michael
    1997 “Why Conversation Is Not the Soul of Democracy.” Critical Studies in Mass Communication14(4): 297–309. 10.1080/15295039709367020
    https://doi.org/10.1080/15295039709367020 [Google Scholar]
  45. Thomas v. Collins
    Thomas v. Collins, 323 U.S.516 (1945).
  46. Volosinov, Valentin Nikolaevich
    1986Marxism and the Philosophy of Language. Trans. byLadislav Matejka and Irwin R. Titunik. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Vygotsky, Lev Semenovich
    1986Thought and Language. Trans. byAlex Kozulin. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
    [Google Scholar]
  48. Weigand, Edda and Istvan Kecskes
    (eds) 2018From Pragmatics to Dialogue. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/ds.31
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ds.31 [Google Scholar]
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error