Graduate Research Symposium: “The Regularization and Regulation of Kickstarter Proposals”

I was honored to be selected for inclusion in the 10th Annual NCSU Graduate Research Symposium, which took place on Wednesday, March 25, 2015. I presented a poster based on some ongoing qualitative research I’m doing in relation to the emergent genre of Kickstarter writing. I am also interested in studying crowdfunding writing more broadly; however, I discovered as part of my analysis that there are specific regulated conventions for Kickstarter that don’t necessarily appear in other crowdfunding platforms, such as particular sections and word count restrictions. I draw my use of the terms regularized and regulated from Schryer, Lingard and Spafford (2007).

In addition the regulated elements of Kickstarter, I found several trends that were not specifically mandated by the platform. These trends seemed to be coming from the authors themselves, in what I identified as a regularized action in the genre. My overall argument was that, given these regularized and regulated trends, Kickstarter is becoming a differentiated genre from any antecedent genres, and thus deserves research and pedagogical attention.

Schryer, C. F., Lingard, L., & Spafford, M. (2007). Regularized Practices: Genres, Improvisation, and Identity Formation in Health-Care Professions. In M. Zachry & C. Thralls (Eds.), Communicative Practices in Workplaces and the Professions: Cultural Perspectives on the Regulation of Discourse and Organizations. Amityville, NY: Baywood.

CCCCs: Crowdfunding

I was pleased to present at CCCC some research I’ve been doing on crowdfunding and grant writing. I delivered “Proposal Networks: An Activity Theory Analysis of Crowdfunding and Grant Writing” on a panel with Jason Swarts and Kristyne Bradford, who was sadly unable to attend. The talk featured a theoretical arm about activity theory and the topic’s case study.

When compared using the Bitzer’s rhetorical situation model, crowdfunding and grant writing may look similar in their exigence and constraints. However, activity theory allows for looking at exigence and constraints in a systematic way. When I analyzed crowdfunding and grant writing from an activity theory standpoint, differences appeared. The rules, tools, communities, and divisions of labor in the two activities were different. Thus, I argued that researchers should investigate crowdfunding as a distinct activity system of its own.