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Rhetoric, Knowledge and the Public Sphere

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Edited By Agnieszka Kampka and Katarzyna Molek-Kozakowska

Public deliberation depends on how skillful communicators are in establishing their version of what is known to be publicly acceptable. This volume provides rhetorical analyses of institutional websites, political speeches, scientific presentations, journalistic accounts or visual entertainment. It shows the significance of rhetorical construction of knowledge in the public sphere. It addresses the issues of citizenship and social participation, media agendas, surveillance and verbal or visual manipulation. It offers rhetorical critiques of current trends in specialist communication and of devices used when contested interests or ideologies are presented.
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David Isaksen - From calutrons to Congress: The democratic challenge of specialized knowledge

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David Isaksen

University College of Southeast Norway

From calutrons to Congress: The democratic challenge of specialized knowledge

When only a few individuals have access to all the technical data needed to decide a given point, how can collective […] wisdom play its part, and how can it be effectively expressed when the natural spokesmen for the profession become confidential advisers to government?

Alice Kimball Smith

1. Introduction

I take my working definition of rhetoric from Kenneth Burke who claimed that it is the use of symbols to induce cooperation. (Burke, Kenneth: A Rhetoric of Motives. University of California Press: Berkeley et al. 1969, p. 38) Rather than a separate genre of text or speech, rhetoric is a perspective or lens one can use to study how the use of symbols, such as letters, phonemes, or images, can induce actions or thoughts in the audience. (Burke, Kenneth: Essays Toward a Symbolic of Motives: 1950–1955. Rueckert, William (ed.) Parlor Press: West Lafayette, IN 2007, p. 41) A rhetorical analysis thus defined is the study of attempts made, by a rhetor or rhetors, at inducing cooperation by use of symbols. The critic should study to what extent the attempt is successful, and also try to find good reasons for the failure or success of the attempt or attempts.

Rhetoric is an essential function of language in all societies, since they can exist as societies only by...

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