Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Patrice M. Buzzanell, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Steve R. Wilson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jane Jorgenson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John T. Harvey, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Amorette N. Hinderaker, Ph.D.


actor-network theory, antenarrative theory, communication theory of reislience, COVID-19 recession, Great Recession, organizational communication


This dissertation unites organizational communication, and economic theory to understand how individuals make sense of economic crises, imbed power and logic in those understandings, and construct new economic realities in the aftermath of crisis. Contra economic orthodoxy, this project conceives of economy and economics as a social construct. As a social construct, individuals organize economy and economics through discourse, make sense of through narrative, and rebuild through communication. This dissertation combines different theoretical perspectives—actor-network theory, antenarrative organization theory, and the communication theory of resilience—to recenter social scientific accounts of economic reality around communication, story, and power.

Specifically, I focus on two economic crises: the Great Recession and the COVID-19 Recession. By examining the discourse present in news media and individual accounts in these two economic disruption contexts, this dissertation explores how individuals, across varying levels of society, made sense of these economic crises in situ, rather than through retrospective accounts. Thus, this work examines economics as an organizational process, constituted in communication and narrative, and shaped by power and narrative logics.

To these ends, two studies comprise this dissertation. The first study using news media combines the use of antenarrative grand narrative analysis to unpack how essentializing and mythologizing forces emerge within media accounts of economic crisis. By analyzing news media accounts of crucial dates across economic crisis contexts, this first study critiques the construction of societal macronarratives during crisis and uncovers how those narratives shape economic and social practices related to the crises.

Next, the second study of this dissertation examines individual accounts of economic crises using antenarrative network analyses of social media and archival data related to the respective crises. Contra normative economic analyses, which often disregard individuals’ experiences of crisis, this final study engages individuals’ accounts of economic disruption on the social media platform Reddit to understand how individuals make sense of economic conditions and the power relations and processes that manifested them.

These studies work in tandem to illustrate, throughout various levels of society, how societies organize their experiences of, and responses to, economic crises. These analyses contribute key insights related to: (a) how people respond to economic crisis, (b) how power and discourse shape those responses, (c) how economic theory interacts with these organizational processes, and (d) how scholars and policymakers can better respond to future economic disruptions. Further, the findings from these studies (1) form the basis for a communicative theory of nullification, (2) highlight the potential of communicated finality as an oppositional force to communicated resilience and (3) advance a practical agenda for addressing the legislative and parliamentary procedures through which governments and people enact economic resilience.