Situating Speech: A Rhetorical Approach to Political Strategy

Martin, James. 2015. Situating Speech: A Rhetorical Approach to Political Strategy. Political Studies, 63(1), pp. 25-42. ISSN 0032-3217 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Ideas are increasingly acknowledged as factors in explaining political behaviour. But often they are treated as inert resources rather than dynamic instances of action in themselves. The latter, I propose, requires reflection on the character of speech – as the medium of ideas – in responding to and refiguring a prevailing situation. I undertake such reflection by setting out a rhetorical approach to political strategy. Building upon ‘interpretive’ advances in political science I shift the focus from stable cognitive frames to the dynamics of argumentation where ideas work expressively. I then explore the rhetorical aspect of strategising with attention to the way speech serves to orient audiences by creatively re-appropriating a situation. That approach is shown to be consistent with a ‘dialectical’ political sociology that emphasises the interaction of structure and agency. Finally, I sketch a method for undertaking rhetorical analysis and indicate how it might be applied to a concrete example.

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rhetoric; interpretation; situation; strategy; J. F. Kennedy

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Date Deposited:

08 Dec 2015 14:25

Last Modified:

30 Jun 2017 12:10

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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