COMM 339 -- Persuasion

Dr. Lee McGaan  

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Fall 2016 Office Hours:   MWF:  9:30 - 10am, 11am - Noon & 1 -2pm TTh:  2-3pm & by apt.  |  copyright (c) by Lee McGaan, 2006-2016

Course Description Syllabus Course Notes and Handouts Course Assignments +

The Rhetorical Situation

The Global or Receiver's View - TRS

Lloyd Bitzer's definition of  "the Rhetorical Situation:" -- "complexes of persons, events, objects and relations inviting discussion which, if it is fitting to the situation, alters the situation."

 Components of the Rhetorical Situation:

  1. Exigence - "an imperfection marked by urgency" -- the reason why we perceive a need to speak out on an issue or situation (topic).  There is a difference between the "ideal" (what we wish were the case) and the "actual" (what is the case).
       A.  Why do we speak/act?
       B.  What do we want to accomplish by our speech/action?
  2. Audience - those with an interest and ability to to react to exigence.
        A.  Those who can/will become persuaders.
        B.  Those who can be persuaded to act or change.
  3. Constraints - limitations and opportunities for what can be said and how advocates and audiences shift back and forth - those factors that shape the nature and content of persuasive messages and purposes (that is, make the messages reasonable and sensible).

  What does this mean for prospective persuaders?

We are persuaded to act/change because of a problem

  • Persuasion begins with identifying and defining the exigence

  • Rhetors develop a solution which:

    • "Solves" the Exigence, and

    • which your Audience can enact

  • Rhetors then develop your message  -- which “fits” into the constraints.  Fitting into the contraints means:

  • Resolves the exigence

  • Responds to constraints

  • Can be enacted by audience

  •  The Sender's View -- TAP

    As you have learned in COMM 101 and 233 there is an "iron triangle" consisting of the three elements a sender must consider in order to construct an effective message.  These three are mutually determined, that is each one influences the others.

    1. Thesis - the sender's position, including the central idea and rhetorical strategy.  Terms roughly equivalent include proposition, contention (debate);  USP (unique selling proposition - advertising);  object, concept, cognition (persuasion theory).

    2. Audience - Those to whom the message is directed who can participate in the sender's purpose.

    3. Purpose - the goal the sender has in mind, the outcome the sender hopes for as a result of the message.  Normally in persuasion the purpose is to gain some sort of behavioral change.  Some times purposes are only informational or attitudinal.

     Structure of TRS/TAP -- The Context of ISSUES

    Issues are questions that are inextricably connected to the exigence.  Answering  issues (questions) is necessary to resolving the rhetorical situation.  Issues may be potential or actual (actually raised in real conversation).

    Types of issues

    1. fact - (conjecture or definition)
    2. (quality) -- value
    3. (procedure) – policy

    Claims of fact. (existence of something/definition or classification/facts)

    proof requires:

    1. sufficient and appropriate grounds
      1. reliable authority
      2. recent data
      3. accurate, typical data
    2. clearly defined terms. not loaded language
    3. distinguish between fact and inference.

    Claims of Value (i.e.,  taste & morals / good-bad)    [make value judgments/ resolve conflict between values/ quasi policy (rightness of it)]

    proof requires:

    1. Establishing standards of evaluation (warrant) for what's at issue
    2. note the value's priority in this case.
    3. Establish the advantage (practical or moral) of your standards.
    4. Use examples to clarify abstract values
    5. Use credible authorities for support.

    Claims of Policy (action / should or ought) – proof requires

    1. Clear proposed action
      1. need (justification)
      2. plan, (must be workable)
      3. benefit (advantages)
    2. consider opposition

    Last updated 1/17/2013