Active Voices: Composing a Rhetoric for Social Movements by Sharon McKenzie Stevens

By Sharon McKenzie Stevens

Explores the connection among social hobbies and rhetorical conception and perform.

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In a way that resonates with the premises of the progressive education movement, all these chapters indicate how the relationships we develop while learning inform the way we more broadly participate in society, the way we understand our own agency, and the way we envision possibilities for historical development. As with most collections, these chapters offer readers the most insight when read in dialogue with one another. Rosteck’s analysis of Mills’s audience-evoking “Letter to the New Left,” Jackson and Miller’s rhetorical history of the progressive education movement, and Hauser and mcclellan’s call for more emphasis on the transformative power of vernacular voices challenge one another with their different emphases on leaders and the rank-and-file in movement formation.

Sometimes these transgressions are subtle, as in Havel’s (1986:41–86) parable of the greengrocer.

There is an agonistic zone between official and mundane communication in which the established and the marginalized vie for power. Their struggle is enacted through contrasting rhetorical modalities seeking public allegiance and legitimation. Hauser’s (1999) model of vernacular rhetoric focuses on four dimensions of the social quotidian that provide a more sensitive rhetorical calibration of public opinion formation: it widens the scope of rhetoric to include instances of vernacular exchange, directs attention to collective reasoning processes as they are disclosed in vernacular exchanges, locates public opinion in processes of creating common understanding, and regards the dialogue of vernacular talk as a significant way by which public opinion is developed (85).

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