Symbolic Convergence in the 2015 Duggar Scandal Crisis Communication

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In May 2015, a crisis erupted for the Duggar family from the TLC reality show “19 Kids and Counting” after InTouch Magazine published an article detailing how Josh Duggar–the eldest son in the well-known evangelical family–molested several underage girls in 2006. In August, a data leak of the extra-marital affair website Ashley Madison revealed that Josh Duggar had been a user, actively cheating on his wife Anna. Media events like the Duggar scandal are narrated in social media through the use of symbols, such as memes and Instagram photos. This study analyzed the crisis response using Symbolic Convergence Theory (SCT) to shed light on the social media practices used in reputation management, specifically among religious celebrities. The researchers used fantasy theme analysis to reveal the shared rhetorical vision of the event as it progressed through different crisis communication phases.