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Political rhetoric

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posted on 2013-01-31, 11:30 authored by Susan Condor, Cristian TileagaCristian Tileaga, Michael Billig
The topic of political rhetoric concerns the strategies used to construct persuasive arguments in formal public debates and in everyday political disputes. The study of political rhetoric therefore touches upon the fundamental activities of democratic politics. As Kane and Patapan (2010, p. 372) observed, “because public discussion and debate are essential in a democracy, and because leaders are obliged to rule the sovereign people by means of constant persuasion, rhetoric is absolutely central”. Going further, Dryzek (2010) noted that rhetoric is also central to grass-roots political action: “Rhetoric facilitates the making and hearing of representation claims spanning subjects and audiences … democracy requires a deliberative system with multiple components whose linkage often needs rhetoric” (p. 319-339)1. Since the previous edition of the Handbook in 2003, academic writing on political rhetoric has greatly increased in volume and diversified in perspective. This work now spans a range of disciplines, including linguistics, political theory, international relations, communication studies and psychology. At the time of writing, there existed no integrative accounts of this body of literature. The task of summarizing the field is complicated by the fact that dialogue between academics working in different disciplinary contexts is often limited. In addition, the topic of political rhetoric is not always clearly demarcated from cognate constructs including political narrative (Hammack & Pilecki, 2012), framing (Chong, this volume), communication (Valentino & Nardis, this volume), conversation (cf. Remer, 1999), discourse (e.g. Fairclough & Fairclough, 2012), or deliberation (see Myers & Mendelberg, this volume)... (continues).



  • Social Sciences


  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies


CONDOR, S., TILEAGA, C. and BILLIG, M., 2013. Political rhetoric. IN: Huddy, L., Sears, D.O. and Levy, J.S. (eds.) Oxford Handbook of Political Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Chapter 9, pp. 262-300.


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This book chapter was accepted for publication in the the book, Oxford Handbook of Political Psychology [© Oxford University Press]. The publisher's website is at: http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/




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