Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Public Administration and Policy

Content Description

1 online resource (iv, 287 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Jennifer Dodge

Committee Members

Julie Novkov, Patricia Strach


advocacy groups, coalitions, discourse, identity, NRA, political development, Gun control, Polarization (Social sciences), Organizational behavior, Power (Social sciences)

Subject Categories

Political Science | Public Administration | Public Policy


This dissertation asks how a radical faction within the National Rifle Association (NRA) took over the organization and transformed it into such a dominant force in American politics. To address this question, the researcher conducted a historical discourse analysis of articles and letters in two prominent gun magazines – Guns & Ammo and Field & Stream – during a critical period of development from 1958 to 1978. The project integrates existing theoretical models based on identity (Castells 2004) and discourse coalitions (Dodge & Metze 2016; Hajer 1995) to understand the process by which coalitional boundaries get shaped and reshaped in policy language, as well as the dynamic interplay between sub-group identity formations, the particular strategic political actions sub-groups take, and the development of sub-group dominance. This dissertation has relevant implications for the study of advocacy organizations, discourse theory, and American politics. It provides new insights about the development of the NRA and the gun rights movement in America. Additionally, it has important implications for studying the development of group polarization and sub-group dominance more generally, phenomena accelerating in politics around the globe.