Abstract/Details

Deliberation and democracy: Ethnography of rhetoric in a New England town meeting


2004 2004

Other formats: Order a copy

Abstract (summary)

This study examines deliberative democracy in Amherst, Massachusetts' town meeting. I use ethnography of communication to examine the rhetorical practices that constitute this communication event and legislative body. I briefly examine the history of town meeting and develop a thorough description and analytic interpretation of a key term for talk, “speaking to the issue,” focusing on “questioning” and “arguing.” Conflict was present as an early feature of town meeting talk. Town meeting is a communication event that can also take on agent status. While democracy is often conceived as a messy process, this research shows how participants in a democratic body organize their talk and use self-imposed rules and self-regulate and order their communication, using the same general set of rules across issues. This order protects those in the minority on an issue. “Speaking to the issue” emerges as a vital feature of structuring talk and allowing political access. Town meeting participants in Amherst employ rhetorical strategies I term “weaving,” “scene-changing,” and “active-listening” as they communicate during the event. Many Amherst town meeting members used a “trustee” style of representation, and speak for those who could not participate in electing them.

Indexing (details)


Subject
Communication;
Political science;
American studies
Classification
0459: Communication
0615: Political science
0323: American studies
Identifier / keyword
Communication and the arts; Social sciences; Deliberation; Democracy; Ethnography; New England; Rhetoric; Town meeting
Title
Deliberation and democracy: Ethnography of rhetoric in a New England town meeting
Author
Townsend, Rebecca M.
Number of pages
334
Publication year
2004
Degree date
2004
School code
0118
Source
DAI-A 65/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Advisor
Carbaugh, Donal
University/institution
University of Massachusetts Amherst
University location
United States -- Massachusetts
Degree
Ph.D.
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Language
English
Document type
Dissertation/Thesis
Dissertation/thesis number
3136786
ProQuest document ID
305176616
Copyright
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
http://search.proquest.com/docview/305176616
Access the complete full text

You can get the full text of this document if it is part of your institution's ProQuest subscription.

Try one of the following:

  • Connect to ProQuest through your library network and search for the document from there.
  • Request the document from your library.
  • Go to the ProQuest login page and enter a ProQuest or My Research username / password.