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Sarah Sobieraj

Associate Professor of Sociology, Tufts University

About Sarah

Sobieraj is an expert in American political discourse whose body of research focuses on political voice and visibility in the United States. She has conducted extensive research on marginalized voices, such as those of activists during presidential campaigns, as well as on voices that are amplified, such as those of inflammatory political opinion hosts on talk radio and cable news analysis programs. Her current work examines attacks against women online and the ways this harassment shapes their involvement in public political discourse. She is a member of the research network for the National Institute for Civil Discourse.


The Roots and Impact of Outrage-Mongering in U.S. Political Opinion Media

  • Jeffrey M. Berry

No Jargon Podcast

In the News

Sarah Sobieraj quoted on attacks against women being harsher and more relentless, by Barbara Rodriguez, "Elected Officials Faced Relentless Harassment and Threats of Violence This Year — Women Got Some of the Worst of It" The 19th, December 30, 2020.
"The "Civility" Debate," Sarah Sobieraj, Interview with Marty Moss-Coane, WHYY Radio Times, June 27, 2018.
Sarah Sobieraj's research on media trends discussed by Kat Stoeffel, "The Age of the MSNBC Mom," The New York Times, June 8, 2018.
Sarah Sobieraj quoted on fake news by Nicola Pardy, "How the Fake News Industry Weaponizes Women" Refinery 29, May 3, 2018.
Sarah Sobieraj quoted on the sociology behind true crime programming by Jordan Lauf, "Why True Crime Series like 'The Staircase' & 'Serial' are so Addictive" Bustle, April 18, 2018.
Sarah Sobieraj quoted on norms around racial equality by Emily Bader, "The Showdown over How We Define Fringe Views in America" New York Times, August 21, 2017.
Guest to discuss political activism on National Public Radio, Sarah Sobieraj (with Dana R R. Fisher), March 3, 2017.
"With a Snarl, Trump Ratifies His Supporters’ Rage," Sarah Sobieraj, New York Times, August 9, 2016.
Sarah Sobieraj's research on angry political rhetoric discussed by Maddie Orzeske, "Professors Examine Outrageous Political Speech in Current Election Cycle," Tufts Daily, February 19, 2016.
Sarah Sobieraj quoted on media outrage by Jesse Singal, "Why We Hate Read" New York Magazine, September 26, 2014.
"Wrath of the Talking Heads: How the ‘Outrage Industry’ Affects Politics," Sarah Sobieraj, Interview with Ruth Tam, PBS News Hour, February 28, 2014.
Guest to discuss the growth of "outrage" programming on cable news, talk radio and political blogs on CNN’s Reliable Sources, Sarah Sobieraj, January 12, 2014.
"Are Americans Addicted to Outrage?," Sarah Sobieraj (with Jeffrey M. Berry), Politico, January 3, 2014.
"Our Outrageous Media Created the Tea Party," Sarah Sobieraj (with Jeffrey M. Berry), Salon, December 7, 2013.
Sarah Sobieraj's research on media outrage discussed by Tom Jacob, "What’s the Appeal of Angry, Polarized Media?," Pacific Standard, October 1, 2013.
Guest to discuss protests around the Republic National Convention on NECN’s Broadside, Sarah Sobieraj, August 28, 2012.
Sarah Sobieraj quoted on Occupy Wall Street by Noah Bierman, "Warren Walks Fine Line on Occupy Movement" Boston Globe, October 26, 2011.
Sarah Sobieraj quoted on the Occupy movement by Gloria Goodale, "How Occupy Wall Street is Testing the Next U.S. President" Christian Science Monitor, October 24, 2011.
Guest to discuss Occupy Wall Street on Fox Boston, Sarah Sobieraj, October 21, 2011.


The Outrage Industry: Political Opinion Media and the New Incivility (with Jeffrey M. Berry) (Oxford University Press, 2014).
Scrutinizes political speech that attempts to provoke emotional responses from the audience (e.g., anger, fear, and moral indignation) via rhetorical tactics such as ad hominem attacks, slippery slope argumentation, and misrepresentative exaggeration; explores the dramatic increase in outrage-based political content across multiple media platforms, most prominently television, talk radio, and political blogs.
Soundbitten: The Perils of Media-Centered Political Activism (New York University Press, 2011).
Shows that a broad array of activism emerges in the wake of presidential campaigns, most of which focuses on shaping political discourse via the mainstream new media; argues that media-centered mobilizations prove largely ineffective, generate considerable organizational costs, and come at the expense of other political activities.
"Reporting Conventions: Activists, Journalists, and the Thorny Struggle for Political Visibility" Social Problems 57, no. 4 (2010): 505-528.
Challenges Gitlin’s (1980) classic work that argues that activists can become news only by submitting to the “implicit rules of news-making,” by arguing that when doing so, activists fail to see a second set of rules that journalists use when covering political outsiders; examines how activist attempts to conform to the rules in place for routine political reporting regularly sabotage their success with news workers by inadvertently violating the rules in place for activists.