Communication and Rhetorical Studies
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Civil Society, Marketing Communication, Public Discourse, Social Capital
The claim that we live in a time of uncivil public discourse is well-documented. Because public discourse is significantly influenced by commercial forms of conversation, many believe that marketing communication shares responsibility for the way public discourse shapes civil society. Jurgen Habermas, for example, has argued that marketers have transformed the public sphere into a space of passive consumption rather than the critical participation of ordinary people. Habermas' theory of "communicative action" provides an intriguing, yet incommensurable theoretical approach to address both concerns regarding the marketer's strategic teleology and the call for alternative communication processes to guide marketer to consumer discourse. Gerard Hauser's conceptual model of the actual discursive practices of ordinary people, on the other hand, bridges gaps in the work of Habermas and demonstrates how a rhetorical interpretation of the marketplace enables marketers to better understand the meaning of dialogue and relationship-building with consumers as a civil, ethical discourse. Marketing communication, then, does not denigrate the quality of public discourse when dialogue and relationship-building is conceived as part of a discursive process that coheres with the rhetorical features of civil society.
Slott, C. (2010). The Rhetorical Marketplace: Interpreting the Rhetoric of Marketers and Consumers as Civil Public Discourse (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/1208