Sound-Bite Saboteurs

Public Discourse, Education, and the State of Democratic Deliberation

By Julie Drew, William Lyons, and Lance Svehla

Subjects: Political Behavior, Political Science, Education, Public Opinion, Composition And Rhetoric Studies
Paperback : 9781438430423, 275 pages, March 2010
Hardcover : 9781438430416, 275 pages, March 2010

Table of contents

1. Sound-Bite Sabotage: Illustrative Stories and Techniques
2. Roots of Sound-Bite Sabotage: Private-Sector Leadership
3. Conflicts as Opportunities: Public-Sector Leadership
4. Saboteurs, Sound Bites, and Simulacra: Democratic Agency and Academic Discourse in a Digital Age
5. The Possibilities of Engaged Cynicism: Ideals, Practice, and Citizenship in a Democracy
6. Public Discourse and Democratic Deliberation
Works Cited

Argues that the reliance on sound bites in recent political discourse is harmful to the democratic process.


Sound-Bite Saboteurs examines the emergence of a multifaceted, multimedia culture that encourages the use of sound bites to silence one's opponents at the expense of democratic deliberation and debate. No simple partisan phenomenon or mere attempt to "spin" a particular issue, sound-bite sabotage is, the authors argue, a sophisticated and media-savvy effort by public and private elites to destroy the grounds of public discourse, higher education, and democratic argument. By displacing democratic debate with political spectacle, sound-bite saboteurs attempt to keep citizens more entertained but less informed, more cynical but less engaged, more adept as consumers but less adept as agents. In a broad-based and integrated analysis of this phenomenon, the authors argue that sound-bite sabotage can and must be resisted both within the classroom and beyond.