Competing Imaginaries and Partisan Divides in the Data Rhetoric of Advocacy Organizations Journal Article uri icon



  • Data are wielded to shape public opinion, particularly in electoral contexts where the role and veracity of information is questioned. This post-truth era is characterized by world events in which facts too often are obfuscated and evidential standards are abandoned. To study how data are used to influence pressing and divisive contemporary issues, this paper explores the rhetorical work that quantitative data are doing through the blogging practices of advocacy organizations during the highly-polarized month preceding the 2016 United States elections. We present results of a qualitative content analysis of the quantitative data used in 337 blog posts published by five pairs of conservative and liberal advocacy organizations over the course of the month leading up to the 2016 US elections. We identify key data rhetoric practices along partisan lines and contribute an analytic framework-evaluating ethos, pathos, and logos- that can be used to analyze the rhetorical use of data in other contexts. We then characterize two different imaginaries that come into conflict in this research: 1) the political imaginaries being promoted through organizational blogging and 2) the sociotechnical imaginary of the data economy, foregrounding differences in the epistemic value of data in each. We conclude by outlining research challenges and trajectories for future research within each of the two imaginaries of data.

publication date

  • September 28, 2023

has restriction

  • hybrid

Date in CU Experts

  • October 17, 2023 6:52 AM

Full Author List

  • Darian S; Dym B; Voida A

author count

  • 3

Other Profiles

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2573-0142

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 1

end page

  • 29


  • 7


  • CSCW2