Full recordShow full item record
AbstractWhile media often define themselves as conveyors of information and knowledge, it is argued that their public role often is (and should be) to moderate and keep alive dissensus. In ‘Apologie de la polémique’, Ruth Amossy defends the absolute necessity of polemical discourse in public space. This ‘argumentative modality’ guarantees the possibility of non-violent coexistence of groups in political situations, i.e. situations of dissensus. In a democratic environment, polemical discourse can be allowed and tempered at once. Amossy refers to the work of Chantal Mouffe, who claims that it is a key task of democratic politics to create the conditions that prohibit or play down all forms of antagonism. Politics should promote agonism, which involves a relation not between enemies, but between adversaries, or ‘friendly enemies’. As they share a common symbolic space, they are friends, but as they want to organize this common symbolic space in a different way, they are enemies at the same time. It is clear that the media play an important role in the promotion of agonism. The role of the journalist as a neutral conveyor of facts/ knowledge/ information is challenged while other possible roles come to the fore, eg. a moderator of the public debate. I will compare the selection, the argumentative structures, and the presentation of information in two current polemics about Muslim fundamentalism in Belgian and Dutch media. I will focus on the ways in which polemical discourse is framed and managed, and the ways in which the role of the journalist is presented. For the discussion about these rhetorical aspects of the profession, I will draw from Nico Carpentier’s notion of the discursive field surrounding the identity of the media professional. This paper refers to Chantal Mouffe’s concepts of agonism/antagonism and Amossy’s work on polemical discourse. It offers a rhetorical analysis of the way in which dissensus is being justified and managed by the journalists in two recent media discussions. This paper aims to turn to a fundamental discussion in rhetorical studies: the value and function of dissensus, not only in the building of an informed opinion but also in the creation of social coherence. This discussion goes back to antiquity, but it also draws from recent growing rhetorical scholarship on dissensus and polemical language. The paper aims to contribute to rhetorical scholarship by elaborating on the theme of dissensus and by presenting a case study on two polemics in the media.
TypeDescription (Metadata) only