Counter-rhetorics and sympathetic strategies…

This below is from page 62-4 TABLER, R. (2008 ) The social construction of a special needs program for hurricanes PhD thesis University of South Florida.

It is, imho, a better way of thinking about state-corporate rhetoric and agenda denial, than the standard “legitimacy” framework devised by Lindblom and so on (though those are good!)

Counterrhetorics are approaches taken by the community to argue against the depictions made by stakeholders (Ibarra & Kitsuse, 1993). Here the community either makes an attempt to deny the problematic status of the condition and/or prevent the call to action. Using sympathetic counterrhetorics, the community accepts that there is a problem in part or whole, but will block the request for corrective activities.

There are five categories of sympathetic counterrhetorics (Spector & Kitsuse, 1987): naturalizing, cost involved, declaring impotence, perspectivizing, and tactical criticism.

In naturalizing the problem, the community accepts the existence of the problem, but there is no call to action because the problem is accepted as inevitable.

When the cost involved in correcting the problem outweighs the perceived benefits, there is no call to action due to budgetary constraints.

A community declares impotency, when it really does want to solve the problem but cannot due to lack of resources.

When perspectivizing, the community takes the stance that the claim is the claimmakers opinion, separate from the actual state of affairs.

Using tactical criticism, the community acknowledges the claims made but object to the methodss used in communicating the problem.

The community uses unsympathetic counterrhetorics, when denying that there really is a problem and there is no need for corrective activities. There are four categories of unsympathetic counterrhetorics: antipatterning, telling anecdote, counterrhetoric of insincerity, counterrhetoric of hysteria (Spector & Kitsuse, 1987).

Using antipatterning, the community maintains that the claim identifies isolated incidents, not a full-blown social problem.

When using a telling anecdote, the community denies the generality of the problem.

When the community uses counterrhetoric of insincerity, it is suggesting that there is a hidden agenda.

By using counterrhetoric of hysteria, the community is implying that the claimant’s claims are not rational or are emotional bases, rather than being based on a proficient evaluation of the state of affairs.

Citations are – Spector, M., & Kitsuse, J. I. (1987). Constructing social problems (2nd ed.). Hawthorne, NY: Aldine de Gruyter.

Ibarra, P. R., & Kitsuse, J. I. (1993). Vernacular constituents of moral discourse: An interactionist proposal for the study of social problems. In J. A. Holstein & G. Miller (Eds.), Reconsidering social construction: Debates in social problems theory (pp. 25 – 58). New York: Aldine De Gruyter.

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