This article examines the role of the public in media policymaking through the lens of the 2018 U.S. net neutrality repeal. I begin by outlining a framework for conceptualizing public influence on policymaking. First, I identify constraints on the potential public impact on the policymaking process. Second, I theorize opportunities for policy reform. Third, I invoke the concept of “translation,” a discursive practice by policy actors that amplifies public opinion in the policy arena, as the mechanism by which the public can influence policy outcomes. Finally, drawing on news accounts, government documents related to the repeal, and participant observation, I apply this framework to the case study of the repeal proceedings to explore the interaction between the translation processes and constraints on public participation. The case demonstrates that translation is a fragile process, subject to co-optation, and reliant on the very structures that constrain it. By revealing how power operates through the policymaking process, the study traces the limits of public influence on communications policymaking against the oppositional public-making work of translation.
"Lost in Translation? Theorizing Public Influence on Policymaking via the 2018 Net Neutrality Repeal." Critical Studies in Media Communication, 2020.