Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Rhetoric and Technical Communication (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Humanities


Victoria L. Bergvall


This thesis considers the impact that discursive and community practices have on women’s access to the public sphere by examining female cyclists and a cycling community in Miami, Florida via interviews and observation. In the interviews, female cyclists frequently reported fears for their safety, including concern over harassment, when riding in public space. I interviewed participants of the cycling community and observed Emerge Miami’s meetings and events, where publicly organized cycling excursions were a major component. Using the theoretical and methodological lenses of Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis and Communities of Practice, I examined the interviews to understand how participants discursively framed and contextualized gender-based harassment. I found two meta-discourse frames in operation: a normative frame (that essentially accepted the status quo) and a feminist frame (that challenged the “naturalness” of women’s harassment as just what one had to live with). The feminist frame offered a pathway for women to exert control over their experiences and alter the cultural understanding of harassment’s meaning and effect. The local community practices of Emerge Miami also challenged the normative frames that often silence women, employing explicitly invitational practices, which demonstrates how local discursive and social activity can impact and increase women’s involvement by creating a more accessible space for women to engage with their local cycling community.