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Medborgerlig kompetens: Retorik som konsten att handla politiskt
Södertörn University, School of Culture and Education.
2015 (Swedish)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
Civic competence : Rhetoric as the art of political action (English)
Abstract [en]

Aristotle defined man as a political animal. By that, he ment that the human being is a social animal who uses his communicative and rhetorical skills when negotiating with his fellow humans over issues they share and have in common. Politics, in Athens, was to take common issues seriously. Humans – at least those who could call themselves citizens – were political, and therefore also rhetorical animals. Today, in our western societies, Aristotle’s statement appears almost absurd; politics, in modern western societies, is generally something politicians do while ordinary people are merely observing. Rhetoricians of today – i.e. ”experts on rhetoric” – comment on how politicians speak, how they move, and how they dress. Both politics and rhetoric of today is therefore different from politics and rhetoric of the time when Aristotle lived.

In this essay I claim that we, in order to avoid an undeserved reduction of the art of rhetoric and to gain important knowledge about ourselves as humans in our time, have to seriously reconsider the political potential of the art. Such a reconsideration demands a revaluation of both rhetoric and politics. Rhetoric on the one hand, must be understood in a broader sense (than in the general and public notion of the term) which includes language, behaviour, buildings, institutions etcetera in the sense making processes. For this revaluation I turn mainly to Mats Rosengren whose works are at the front edge within this research field. Politics on the other hand, must be understood as an activity through which we construct ourselves as humans as well as our shared world. For this analysis I turn mainly to Hannah Arendt and Cornelius Castoriadis whose works are critiques of our modern societies.

My aim is, by investigating these matters, to propose an understanding of civic competence to act politically that is consistent with the reconsideration mentioned above. One of my presumptions is that the political activity of the citizen can be understood as negotiations within, with and of doxa. Therefore, I investigate doxa and doxa negotiation using Ruth Amossy’s, Mats Rosengren’s and Maria Wolrath Söderberg’s theoretical perspectives. My conclusion is that political action is possible in the area where rhetoric and politics meet and that the ability to act as a citizen in a true democratic society involves a number of qualities among which an ethical quality, namely frónēsis, may be the most important, but also the most problematic. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. , 79 p.
Keyword [en]
rhetoric, politics, doxa, Arendt, Castoriadis, democracy, la politique, autonomy, Rosengren, Wolrath Söderberg, frónēsis
National Category
Other Humanities not elsewhere specified
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-30042OAI: diva2:930839
Subject / course
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2016-05-25 Created: 2016-05-25 Last updated: 2016-05-25Bibliographically approved

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Hansson, Wilhelm
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