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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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The Role of Hedging in Balancing Power and Persuasion in the Judicial Context: The Case of Majority and Dissenting Opinions (Holly Vass)


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The Role of Hedging in Balancing Power and Persuasion in the Judicial Context: The Case of Majority and Dissenting Opinions

1.   Introduction

As an institution, the United States Supreme Court carries out three duties (van Geel 2001). Firstly, it settles disputes between parties. As the highest appellate court in the federal judicial system, it reviews the decisions of inferior federal courts for errors of law, and it also reviews constitutional issues raised in both federal and state courts. Secondly, by ruling on what is constitutionally permissible, the Supreme Court affects public policy. Lastly, by offering an explanation as to why a specific conduct has been considered constitutionally permissible or impermissible, the Court educates the general public on acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. In fact, Supreme Court decisions are often used as an educational tool in the law classroom to illustrate certain points of law and to aid students in developing skills of legal reasoning.

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