Against Making A Difference: Community Publishing, Organizing, and Power

Date of Award

May 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Writing Program


Steve J. Parks


Civic Engagement, Community Literacy, Community Publishing, Development, Police, Power

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities


This dissertation makes a case against the rhetoric of making a difference in college composition and higher education. Through an analysis of university-led development, a community publication on police, and a civic writing course, Against Making a Difference describes the obstacles that the rhetoric of "making a difference" creates to doing work based on community goals and addressing the root causes of injustice and inequality. It argues for scholars to choose sides in social struggles and political movements, help build progressive counterpublics, and work alongside and within grassroots organizations, providing examples of community publishing and organizing in Syracuse's Near Westside.


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