Hidden democracy: Political dissent in rural America

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous research has considered how network composition influences the extent to which one is willing to engage in politics with others. Yet much of this work has focused on composition rather than context and on public forms of political expression rather than ones that occur outside the public eye. Dissent in rural communities may be especially risky, because residents lack anonymity and rely on local patronage. This study offers evidence that challenges existing theories and concepts of opinion expression and political organizing, suggesting that when faced with an opposing community, rural residents may organize and express their opinions in secret. Through a series of in-depth interviews, this research examined the experiences of a secret political organization of 136 registered members in rural Texas. This study explored how members expressed their opinions and organized in secret, why they do so, and the effect this had on their political engagement in public.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)965-987
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Communication
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Discussion networks
  • Political communication
  • Public opinion
  • Rural America
  • Spiral of silence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


Dive into the research topics of 'Hidden democracy: Political dissent in rural America'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this