A Theory of Resonance

Terence E. McDonnell, Christopher A. Bail, Ido Tavory

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    The metaphor of resonance often describes the fit between a message and an audience's worldviews. Yet scholars have largely ignored the cognitive processes audiences use to interpret messages and interactions that determine why certain messages and other cultural objects appeal to some but not others. Drawing on pragmatism, we argue that resonance occurs as cultural objects help people puzzle through practical challenges they face or construct. We discuss how cognitive distance and the process of emotional reasoning shape the likelihood of cultural resonance. We argue resonance is an emergent process structured by interactions between individuals that shape each other's interpretation of cultural objects, diffuse objects through interactional circuits, and create opportunities for resonance among people facing similarly shaped problems. Our approach thus identifies new processes at micro, meso, and macro levels of analysis that shape resonance and describes the pathways that might allow resonance to crystallize into broader mobilization and social change.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1-14
    Number of pages14
    JournalSociological Theory
    Volume35
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

    Fingerprint

    meso level
    pragmatism
    interaction
    macro level
    worldview
    micro level
    mobilization
    social change
    metaphor
    appeal
    interpretation

    Keywords

    • cognition
    • culture
    • emotions
    • interaction
    • pragmatism
    • resonance

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science

    Cite this

    McDonnell, T. E., Bail, C. A., & Tavory, I. (2017). A Theory of Resonance. Sociological Theory, 35(1), 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1177/0735275117692837

    A Theory of Resonance. / McDonnell, Terence E.; Bail, Christopher A.; Tavory, Ido.

    In: Sociological Theory, Vol. 35, No. 1, 01.03.2017, p. 1-14.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    McDonnell, TE, Bail, CA & Tavory, I 2017, 'A Theory of Resonance', Sociological Theory, vol. 35, no. 1, pp. 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1177/0735275117692837
    McDonnell TE, Bail CA, Tavory I. A Theory of Resonance. Sociological Theory. 2017 Mar 1;35(1):1-14. https://doi.org/10.1177/0735275117692837
    McDonnell, Terence E. ; Bail, Christopher A. ; Tavory, Ido. / A Theory of Resonance. In: Sociological Theory. 2017 ; Vol. 35, No. 1. pp. 1-14.
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