Date of Award

Fall 2021

Degree Type



Moore School of Business

Director of Thesis

Dr. Wanda Chaves

First Reader

Dr. Joshua Hess


The history of civic activism dates back centuries and in 2021, with the increased role of technology and social media, civic engagement rates are at all-time highs in the United States. The rise in popularity of smartphones and social media applications have given consumers new ways to connect with like-minded peers and develop a unified voice to fight for movements towards equality and justice in the US economy. College students represent a large point of emphasis for public relations and marketing teams as their generation is entering the US consumer market with high rates of social media use to make decisions about companies and products. With the growing reliance on electronic word-of-mouth advertising in many marketing campaigns, it is important to understand the college generation’s opinions and tendencies regarding different situations with electronic word-of-mouth advertising, specifically cancel culture. A phenomenological approach allowed for the creation of a more wholistic, detailed picture of cancel culture sentiments among college students. As predicted, a key conclusion is that cancel culture is complicated; cancel culture among the general American population creates a wide array of opinions on its uses and the college generation has a similar reaction. Cancel culture has become a controversial topic in news media coverage, but the underlying principles of civic engagement persist and seem to be a key part of the decision-making process for college-aged consumers. Companies can fall victim to cancellations for a variety of specific issues pertaining to injustices to marginalized groups, but these cancellations do not have to last forever. College students are willing to forgive cancelled companies if a clear effort at retribution is exhibited, proving that students’ goals in cancel culture are not to attack offending companies but rather create a cultural improvement for groups that they feel are victims to American corporations.

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© 2021, William D Morgan