Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)


Communication and Storytelling Studies

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Amber Kinser

Committee Members

Wesley Buerkle, Wendy Doucette


This study examines experiences of utilizing government assistance in the United States. It focuses on the ways in which persons participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) communicatively managed their lives in relation to their role in the program. Specifically, the research reveals that SNAP recipients are master managers. After synthesizing the pre-existing body of research concerning social assistance in the U.S. and its effects on those who utilize it, the author argues that sharing the stories of marginalized groups can serve to reduce stigma surrounding government assistance participation. Employing a Feminist Standpoint Theory sensibility to elicit such stories, the author drew out narratives gathered through qualitative interviews with current SNAP participants. Findings indicate that communicative management of SNAP participation was experienced as multi-layered and complex. Positioned to navigate the carceral environment of the SNAP program, participants adopted various disciplined communicative actions as they managed program membership, stigmatized identity, and behavioral surveillance.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.