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Graduate Defense: Samantha Haskell

May 24 @ 10:00 am - 11:00 am MDT

Thesis Information

Title: Cancel Culture: A Qualitative Analysis of the Social Media Practice of Canceling

Program: Master of Arts in Communication

Advisor: Dr. Manda Hicks, Communication and Media

Committee Members: Dr. Rulon Wood, Communication and Media, and Dr. Rick Moore, Communication and Media


Unlike previous forms of public shaming, canceling is a product of Web 2.0 and the boom of social media. The act of canceling is inherently tied to the word “canceled”, however, how the public defines a cancelation is not static. Instead, how those on social media partake and understand canceling is due to consistent strategies that emerge during a cancelation. In this research, I conducted a case study of the cancelation of Kevin Spacey that took place in 2017. Over 1700 tweets discussing Kevin Spacey’s cancelation were captured in order to determine the process of canceling. Through qualitative content analysis, multiple strategies were revealed that illuminated how the public utilizes social media to participate in cancel culture. This research demonstrates how canceling functions and the strategies that appear throughout the process of a cancelation.