Politics and Rhetoric, (PDF) draws together in a broad and highly accessible way relevant ideas from discourse analysis, classical rhetoric revised to a modern setting, related issues in contemporary political theory, and many carefully chosen examples and issues from current politics. It will be important reading for all students of politics and political communications.
Rhetoric is the art of persuasion and speech, the study of argument and, in Classical times, an important component in the education of the citizen. For rhetoricians, politics is a skill to be performed and not only observed. Yet in modern democracies, we often consider the political speech of malign intent and remain unclear how properly to interpret and evaluate it. Public arguments are easily discharged as ‘mere rhetoric’ rather than engaged critically, with citizens encouraged to be passive consumers of a media spectacle instead of active participants in political dialogue.
This volume offers an instructive and clear introduction to the skills of the rhetorical arts. It reviews critically the place of rhetoric in contemporary public life and evaluates its virtues as a tool of political theory. Questions about identity and power in the practices of political communication remain central to the rhetorical custom: how do we know that we are not being influenced by those who pursue to persuade us? Only an understanding of the techniques of rhetoric and an understanding of how they reveal themselves in contemporary politics, claims the author, can guide us in answering these constant questions.
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