Persuasive Encounters: Case Studies in Constructive Confrontation

By Gary C. Woodward | Go to book overview

an encounter with perhaps some of the elements of a debate but no penetration into a secondary audience. Such was Ken Harrison position in Whose Life Is It Anyway? In the context of the play, his encounter with the stern Dr. Emerson was part confrontation, part debate, but also largely private. By contrast, 4-d denotes an event -- such as Robert Kennedy's South African trip -- dominated by the speaker's message and relayed to a large secondary audience.

The value of all the models and schemes presented in this chapter is in understanding the partly concealed variables and unwritten rules of engagement that can shape public confrontations. More than anything else, they serve as a reminder that this book is about opportunities and audiences. The decision to stake out a controversial position in a public forum carries the prospect of using or misusing particular rhetorical opportunities. It is a decision that implies a host of contradictory demands and impulses: the recognition that the instinct for adaptation might defeat the more fragile sense of moral obligation; the prospect that failing with an immediate audience may be redeemed by the support of a secondary audience; and above all, recognition that persuasive encounters will probably test the goodwill of even the most tolerant listeners.


NOTES
1
William Shakespeare, Coriolanus ( New York: Signet, 1963), p. 95.
2
Kenneth Burke, "Rhetoric -- Old and New", Journal of General Education, April 1951, p. 203.
3
A good overview of the merging of the observations of sociology and anthropology with rhetorical theory can be found in Hugh Dalziel Duncan, Communication and Social Order ( New York: Oxford, 1968), Parts I-V.
4
Lloyd Bitzer, "The Rhetorical Situation", Philosophy and Rhetoric, January 1968, p. 4.
5
Erving Goffman, Presentation of Self in Everyday Life ( New York: Anchor, 1959), pp. 17-76, 106-140.
6
David Riesman, with Nathan Glazer and Reuel Denney, The Lonely Crowd, Abridged Edition ( New Haven: Yale, 1961), pp. 13-21.
8
Leon Festinger, A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance ( Stanford, Calif: Stanford, 1957); Charles Osgood and Percy Tannenbaum, "The Principle of Congruity in the Prediction of Attitude Change", Psychological Review Winter 1955, pp. 42-55; Arthur R. Cohen , Attitude Change and Social Influence ( New York: Basic, 1964), pp. 62-80. For a review of these and related "balance theorists," see Herbert W. Simons, Persuasion: Understanding, Practice, and Analysis, Second Edition ( New York: Random House, 1986), pp. 57-67.
9
See, for example, Carolyn Sherif, Muzafer Sherif, and Roger Nebergall, Attitude and Attitude Change: The Social judgment-Involvement Approach ( Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders, 1965), pp. v-xv.
10
Joseph Kesselring, Arsenic and Old Lace: A Comedy ( New York: Random House, 1941).
11
See Martin Schram, The Great American Video Game: Presidential Politics in the Television Age ( New York: William Morrow, 1987), Parts 3, 4.

-49-

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