Academic journal article Argumentation and Advocacy

A Content Analysis of Arguing Behaviors: A Case Study of Romania as Compared to the United States

Academic journal article Argumentation and Advocacy

A Content Analysis of Arguing Behaviors: A Case Study of Romania as Compared to the United States

Article excerpt

Arguing is a pervasive form of interaction between people (Brockriede, 1975; Hample, 2005), embedded in the social fabric of human interactions. It is "a situated practice" (Poole, 2013, p. 608) in which members of a group advance statements but also enact and create social norms and rules that structure their argumentative interactions (Seibold & Meyers, 2007). Thus, the arguing practices of a social group reveal information about the functions of arguing and the rules that govern it within that group. For example, when an employee argues with a supervisor about a work-related topic, the employee communicates information but also the social acceptability of arguing with one's supervisors.

Argumentation research has a well-established tradition in the United States (U.S.), where scholars have examined how individuals argue from multiple perspectives (e.g., rhetoric, informal logic, and interpersonal argumentation). The same is not true of other cultures where argumentation undoubtedly occurs but knowledge of its specific functions, manifestations, and consequences is limited. The goal of this manuscript is to examine naive actors' perceptions of interpersonal argumentation in Romania from an emic standpoint, and based on structuration theory (Giddens, 1984). Data from the U.S. are used as a comparison point against which arguing behaviors in Romania are discussed.

Such an investigation is useful for several reasons. First, it provides a description of arguing behaviors in a different culture, which enhances cross-cultural argumentation knowledge. Specifically, this study explains Romanian youth's daily argumentation practices such as topics they argue about, people they argue with, and goals they pursue via arguing. In addition, the study examines Romanians' perceptions of the appropriateness of interpersonal arguing and its role in Romanian life and society. Because extant research examining Romanian communication practices is rare, understanding social and cultural perceptions of arguing is valuable to people interested in studying Romanian cultural customs as well as to people who anticipate interacting with Romanians. More Romanians now work or study abroad; an estimated 3 million Romanians (roughly 15% of the population) worked abroad (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2012), and approximately 28,000 Romanian students studied abroad in 2010 (UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2014).

Second, the study highlights social and cultural influences at play in a former Eastern European communist country that have led to a unique array of values (Smith, Dugan, & Trompenaars, 1996). Romania's case is interesting because the country has undergone social, economic, and political changes following the 1989 revolution and the integration into the European Union in 2007. This transition may have affected public and interpersonal argumentation. For example, Robila and Krishnakumar (2005) found that increased economic pressures were associated positively with marital conflict (i.e., arguing) among Romanian women, whereas Bancila, Mittelmark, and Hetland (2006) found that stressful interpersonal relationships increased Romanians' levels of psychological distress, regardless of gender. Thus, Romania represents a case study that illustrates the complexities of arguing behaviors in other post-communist Eastern European democracies. In what follows, the manuscript outlines key concepts of structuration theory that aid the analysis, conceptualizes arguing behaviors, and presents an overview of Romania compared to the U.S.

STRUCTURATION THEORY AND ARGUING BEHAVIORS

According to Giddens (1984), "human social activities (...) are recursive. That is to say, they are not brought into being by social actors but continually recreated by them via the very means whereby they express themselves as actors" (p. 2). This claim suggests that arguing, as a social activity (Hample, 2005), is continuously recreated in argumentative exchanges. …

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