Rhetorical strategies to suggest a democratic disposition

Miller, Rodney G. (1987). Rhetorical strategies to suggest a democratic disposition M.A. Thesis, School of English, Media Studies and Art History, The University of Queensland.

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Author Miller, Rodney G.
Thesis Title Rhetorical strategies to suggest a democratic disposition
School, Centre or Institute School of English, Media Studies and Art History
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1987
Thesis type M.A. Thesis
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Total pages 241
Language eng
Subjects 751000 Communication
360101 Australian Government and Politics
Formatted abstract
1: Introduction
The thesis explores the proposition that speakers show their democratic disposition towards listeners in text. The characteristics of a democratic disposition as the term is used in this thesis are defined. The role of visible and less obvious parts of the linguistic process are focused on to examine how some features of language, or combinations of features, suggest the view that a speaker has of his or her relationship with listeners. The thesis proposes three main types of disposition that are located by language: namely the imperative, personal and impersonal types  .

2: Democracy in the language of rhetors

The use of democracy and its synonyms is focused on to examine its effects on the suggestion of disposition. The significance of the use of democracy as part of political propaganda and the related difficulty of how this affects the suggestion of a speaker's democratic disposition is discussed. The interconnection of the propaganda and democratic processes in the use of the word democracy is focused on as the most visible method of seeking to suggest a democratic disposition.

3: Polemic, propaganda and humour in the democratic disposition

The parallel role of overt attempts to appear democratic in the use of polemic, propaganda and humour is also examined. The effects of these devices when used to suggest democratic exchange between speaker and listener are discussed, as are their role in limiting the exchange of information. Other emotive uses of the devices are also examined for the effect on the speaker/listener relationship.

4: Rhetorical ordering for disposition
In addition to the visible devices for suggesting a democratic disposition discussed in earlier chapters, the thesis also explores the less obvious parts of the linguistic process that establish a speaker's relationship. The words and patternings which express general relations, whether relations of other words or relations of concepts or relations of people, are identified and their occurrence in a range of Australians' public speech is discussed. Evidence concerning the verbal orderings is used to propose criteria for 'measuring' disposition in language.

5: Menzies’s measured style

The criteria for 'measuring' disposition are tested on a complete speech of Menzies to test the method. Results and discussion of this application include an outline of how Menzies evolves a particular democratic disposition. The discussion includes comparison of the findings of the qualitative and quantitative methods used to help describe Menzies's disposition.

6: Hawke's telespeech style
Application of the criteria to an extended passage of Hawke's speech is used to compare Hawke with Menzies and to assess the consistency of the criteria in describing disposition. The discussion reaches conclusions about how Hawke evolves his democratic disposition and provides further comparison of the criteria to help describe disposition.
7: Conclusion - Democratic disposition
Finally, the combined effects of the visible and less obvious parts of the linguistic process in suggesting disposition are examined. The value and limits of earlier methods of 'measuring' disposition, as well as the method suggested in the thesis, are reassessed. Thirteen surface language features which suggest disposition, but may be counted, are concluded to indicate the proportion of Imperative to Personal to Impersonal features in speech. Areas for further research are identified for the development of a more complete description of disposition in the text of speakers.

Keyword rhetorical theory
Politicians -- Australia
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Created: Thu, 11 Mar 2010, 14:20:39 EST by Ms Natalie Hull on behalf of Social Sciences and Humanities Library Service