Presentation on theme: "Framing the Rhetorical Citizen in Metadiscourse Robert T. Craig University of Colorado Boulder Presentation to Rhetoric in Society."— Presentation transcript:
Framing the Rhetorical Citizen in Metadiscourse Robert T. Craig University of Colorado Boulder Presentation to Rhetoric in Society 4 Copenhagen, 17 January 2013
Studies of metadiscursive framing in public discourse can inform normative thinking about rhetorical citizenship.
Background Project: Metadiscourse & communication theory – Theoretical reflection on pragmatic problems in ordinary metadiscourse (reflexive talk about discourse & communication) Approach: Exploring metadiscursive vocabularies & their pragmatic uses in framing, arguing: – “dialogue”; “voice”; “branding”; “argument”; “rhetoric”; etc. Method: Web as corpus; Google search strings designed to tap concepts, problems, reasoning; results sifted for relevant cases
Google hits (Boulder, Colorado, USA, 13 January 2013) “rhetoric” (38,100K) “__ rhetoric”“tone down __ rhetoric” “use __ rhetoric to” my62K106K5K our71K82K5K your214K225K34K their586K650K172K “voice” (1,160,000K) “__ voice”“__ should not have a voice” “use __ voice to” my30,800K7,910K (I)1,840K our2,890K8,550K (we)368K your63,100K10,100K (you)5860K their6,440K10,700K (they)1,270K
“my rhetoric” “I'm worried that my rhetoric might not be extreme enough” (http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.p hp?az=view_all&address=439x173468; #8)http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.p hp?az=view_all&address=439x “Some of my rhetoric has been a mistake” (G.W. Bush, Jan. 2009; 11dd-b0e b07658.html#axzz2HsmlT2Xu; #9)http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/69158e60-e0cd- 11dd-b0e b07658.html#axzz2HsmlT2Xu
“your rhetoric” “Politicians, please weigh your rhetoric -- and find some common ground” (http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2012/04/politi cians_please_weigh_your.html; #5)http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2012/04/politi cians_please_weigh_your.html “Gov. Christie, get your team to follow your rhetoric!” (http://morristowngreen.com/2012/08/29/commentary-gov- christie-get-your-team-to-follow-your-rhetoric/; #7)http://morristowngreen.com/2012/08/29/commentary-gov- christie-get-your-team-to-follow-your-rhetoric/
“their rhetoric” “Senators should tone down their rhetoric on Rice” (http://www.vcstar.com/news/2012/dec/10/eich- senators-should-tone-down-their-rhetoric-on/; #1)http://www.vcstar.com/news/2012/dec/10/eich- senators-should-tone-down-their-rhetoric-on/ “Maybe Republicans like McLaughlin should look at their rhetoric to see why they were defeated” (http://www.conwaydailysun.com/index.php/opinion/letters/ ken-mckenzie-republicans-should-look-at-their- rhetoric; #2)http://www.conwaydailysun.com/index.php/opinion/letters/ ken-mckenzie-republicans-should-look-at-their- rhetoric
Arguments about ‘Rhetoric’ in the 2008 US Presidential Election Campaign (Craig, 2012) Three main issues regarding Obama’s rhetoric: – Rhetoric vs. reality (thematizes truth): rhetoric is “empty” or deceptive vs. rhetoric creates reality (inspiring visions, models for discourse, political alignments) – Rhetoric vs. authenticity (thematizes sincerity): eloquent speech can’t be trusted vs. eloquence signals sincere passion & commitment – Rhetoric vs. democratic norms (thematizes rightness): enthusiastic crowds signal danger of fascism vs. promise of a genuine social change movement Necessity & danger of rhetoric – illuminates essential tensions in democratic public discourse (cf. Dryzek, 2010)
What is rhetorical citizenship? “…that set of communicative and deliberative practices that in a particular culture and political system allow citizens to enact and embody their citizenship, in contrast to merely ‘talking about politics.’” (Keith & Cossart, 2012, p. 46) Requires a “debate culture” that welcomes rhetorical deliberation (Villadsen, 2012) What does such a culture look like? How it produced & maintained in discourse?
Metadiscourse & cultivating the rhetorical citizen “Arguments about ‘rhetoric’” can play a role; but rhetoric is a negatively toned word we seldom talk about (except academically) The negotiation of discourse norms is largely implicit (e.g. Villadsen, 2012) Norms can be implicit in the metadiscursive framing of rhetorical action as rhetorical or otherwise.
How is the rhetorical citizen framed in metadiscourse? We don’t know, because: – There is no normative-theoretical consensus (Kock & Villadsen, 2012) – The question has not been explored empirically We will explore the question through normative reflection on empirical examples representing different practical approaches (Craig & Tracy, 1995)
Ex 1: Political conflict strategy frame Republicans began the hostage-taking to achieve their ideological goal of shrinking government, resisting all attempts at compromise involving new tax revenues. The White House tried to impress independent voters with its own spending-cut proposals, and to salvage some stimulus measures. The ceiling was never very wise, but until now it has been used only to give Congress a voice in government borrowing, not as a radioactive weapon. Having picked up the weapon, though, neither side has seemed able to set it down. At last, a few senior Republicans have started to realize that the weapon, used in this way, is too powerful to be controlled. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, said default would be bad for his party’s “brand” and would allow the president to shift blame for the poor economy onto Republicans. see Craig, 2012) Rhetorical action as combat; no attention to reasoning on the issue, only on strategy.
Ex 2: Negotiation strategy frame Mr. Obama, scarred by failed negotiations in his first term and emboldened by a clear if close election to a second, has emerged as a different kind of negotiator in the past week or two, sticking to the liberal line and frustrating Republicans on the other side of the bargaining table. Disciplined and unyielding, he argues for raising taxes on the wealthy while offering nothing new to rein in spending and overhaul entitlement programs beyond what was on the table last year. Until Republicans offer their own new plan, Mr. Obama will not alter his. In effect, he is trying to leverage what he claims as an election mandate to force Republicans to take ownership of the difficult choices ahead. (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/03/us/politics/pushing-gop-to- negotiate-obama-ends-giving-in.html)http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/03/us/politics/pushing-gop-to- negotiate-obama-ends-giving-in.html Rhetorical action as negotiation move; no attention to deliberative reasons.
Ex 3: Argument frame – technical critique Unfortunately, Mr. Geithner’s speech contained three major mistakes: his history is completely wrong, his logic is deeply flawed, and his interpretation of the Dodd-Frank reforms does not mesh with the legal facts regarding how the failure of a global megabank could be handled. Together, these mistakes suggest that one of our most powerful policy makers is headed very much in the wrong direction. On history, Mr. Geithner places significant blame for the pre-2008 excesses on Britain and other countries that pursued light-touch regulation. This is reasonable – though surely he is aware that the United States has led the way in lightening the touch of regulation, at least since A senior British official retorted immediately, “Clearly he wasn’t referring to derivatives regulation, because as far as I can recollect, there wasn’t any in America at the time.” (http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/09/the-banking-emperor- has-no-clothes/; see Craig, 2012)http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/09/the-banking-emperor- has-no-clothes/ Rhetorical action is policy argument: Reasoning on the issue is highlighted, with no attention to political context or motives.
Ex 4: Argument frame – ideological critique To say all individuals are embedded in and the product of society is banal. Obama rises above banality by means of fallacy: equating society with government, the collectivity with the state. Of course we are shaped by our milieu. But the most formative, most important influence on the individual is not government. It is civil society, those elements of the collectivity that lie outside government: family, neighborhood, church, Rotary club, PTA, the voluntary associations that Tocqueville understood to be the genius of America and source of its energy and freedom. (http://www.dailycamera.com/opinion- columnists/ci_ /krauthammer-did-state-make-you-great)http://www.dailycamera.com/opinion- columnists/ci_ /krauthammer-did-state-make-you-great Rhetorical action is ideological argument, critiqued with not attention to audience or political context.
Ex 5: Rhetorical frame? – personal story It’s not something I really talk about, but for those of you who wanna know why I personally am so driven for marriage equality and what my drive is. We all have a story. And it’s time you knew mine. My partner Daniel and I live in fear every day. That because we don’t have the word marriage, should something happen to my parents, some court, some insensitive government official will say we don’t care that you’re civil unioned, you’re not married. And should something happen to me, rather than go to my partner Daniel, my brother, who calls my partner Daniel “Broth,” short for brother, will become a ward of the state. To all of you, this is an issue that’s political. To me this is my life. (http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/media/archive_audio2.asp?KEY=AJU&SESSI ON=2006; see Craig & Tracy, 2010)http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/media/archive_audio2.asp?KEY=AJU&SESSI ON=2006 Rhetorical action is personal self-expression addressed to a deliberating audience.
Ex 6: Rhetorical frame? – political leadership In the face of Republican claims that his policies have failed to revive the economy, Obama is turning the blame on the Republicans themselves. Instead of arguing that his policies have succeeded in keeping the recession from being worse—an argument that could easily sound defeatist—Obama is implicitly conceding that his economic recovery strategy has failed, but laying the responsibility at the feet of the party trying to unseat him. … Successful presidential candidates do more than simply tell a story. They tell a story that captures the conditions and mood of the country at a particular moment in time.... A generic attack on Republican individualism isn’t good enough. Most Americans still don’t know why Barack Obama believes the roof fell in on America in 2008, and why he’s still more capable of repairing the damage in a second term than his political adversaries. Unless he answers those questions better over the next 11 months, he won’t get the chance. (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/12/12/obama-s reelection-strategy-blame-the-republicans.html)http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/12/12/obama-s reelection-strategy-blame-the-republicans.html Rhetorical action is argument addressed to a deliberating audience in a political-strategic context.
Conclusion How is political discourse framed as rhetorical deliberation in which citizens participate? It is not sheer political strategy without argumentative content; nor it is rational argumentation without a strategic context; rather it is argumentative discourse directed to an audience in a political context.
References Craig, R. T. (2006). Communication as a practice. In G. J. Shepherd, J. St. John & T. Striphas (Eds.), Communication as …: Perspectives on theory (pp ). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Craig, R. T. (2008). The rhetoric of ‘dialogue’ in metadiscourse: Possibility- impossibility arguments and critical events. In E. Weigand (Ed.), Dialogue and rhetoric (pp ). Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Craig, R. T. (2011). The uses of "argument" in practical metadiscourse. In R. C. Rowland (Ed.), Reasoned argument and social change (pp ). Washington, DC: National Communication Association. Craig, R. T. (2012). Arguments about ‘rhetoric’ in the 2008 US presidential election campaign. In F. H. v. Eemeren & B. Garssen (Eds.), Exploring Argumentative Contexts (pp ). Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Craig, R. T. (2012). The Metadiscourse of “Voice”: Legitimizing Participation in Dialogue. In F. Cooren & A. Létourneau (Eds.), (Re)presentations and dialogue (pp ). Amsterdam / Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Craig, R. T., & Tracy, K. (1995). Grounded practical theory: The case of intellectual discussion. Communication Theory, 5,
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