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Power, Persuasion and Manipulation in Specialised Genres

Providing Keys to the Rhetoric of Professional Communities


Edited By María Ángeles Orts Llopis, Ruth Breeze and Maurizio Gotti

This volume focuses on the study of linguistic manipulation, persuasion and power in the written texts of professional communication, to go further into the understanding of how they are constructed, interpreted, used and exploited in the achievement of specific goals. Such texts are here contemplated from the stance of genre theory, which starts from the premise that specialised communities have a high level of rhetorical sophistication, the keys to which are offered solely to their members. In particular, the book investigates the communicative devices that serve the need of such professions to exert power and manipulation, and to use persuasion. The perspective adopted in this work does not envisage power simply as a distant, alienated and alienating supremacy from above, but as an everyday, socialized and embodied phenomenon. To attain its goal, the volume brings forth studies on the language of several professions belonging to various specialised fields such as law and arbitration, engineering, economics, advertising, business, politics, medicine, social work, education and the media.

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Transmitting Authority in Risk Communication: An Exploration of U.S. Air-Accident Dockets Online (Carmen Sancho Guinda)


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Transmitting Authority in Risk Communication: An Exploration of U.S. Air-Accident Dockets Online

1.   Power in risk communication

Power is usually defined as an asymmetric relationship among social actors with different social positions or roles (Reisigl/Wodak 2009), as an opportunity to achieve personal or corporate goals out of vested interests or for the common good. We may conceive this asymmetry in a myriad of forms (van Leeuwen 2008; Wodak/Meyer 2009; Hougaard 2015; Pishwa/Schulze 2015), such as coercive action by physical force and violence, financial status, social distance, and authority or control based on knowledge. Some authors explicitly state that power and knowledge directly imply each other (Foucault 1977; van Dijk 2016) or that power is embedded in knowledge and any knowledge system constitutes a system of power (Hardy/Phillips 2004). Knowledge, moreover, is conveyed by discourse, which in turn (and this is a basic tenet of Critical Discourse Analysis) is an integral aspect of power and control. In other words, power relations are discursive: through discourse, power is transmitted and exercised (Bloor/Bloor 2007; Machin/Myer 2012; Martin 2014). Discourse, in sum, is not only the product of power relations but also an agent, as it shapes those very relations that regulate and institutionalize ways of thinking, acting and talking (Grant et al. 2004).

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