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The Rhetoric of Social Intervention

The Rhetoric of Social Intervention
An Introduction

August 2008 | 280 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Authors Susan Opt and Mark Gring present the first-ever thorough exploration and discussion of the rhetoric of social intervention model [RSI] (initially conceived by rhetorical theorist William R. Brown) for today's students, scholars, and professionals. This unique communication-based model, compatible with traditional and non-traditional critical approaches, provides readers with a systemic framework for interpreting, analyzing, critiquing, and intervening in social and cultural change from a rhetorical perspective. It offers an easily accessible tool for critically reflecting upon the ongoing process of rhetorical intervention in people's interpretations of needs, relationships, and worldview.

Readers will learn to use the RSI model to (1) reflect on their own symbolic natures, (2) identify rhetorical trends that generate social change, (3) critique social interventions, (4) initiate social interventions, and (5) anticipate the side effects of interventional choices.

The Rhetoric of Social Intervention: An Introduction includes these key features:

  • A detailed, step-by-step approach to help readers develop their skills in analyzing the communication patterns of social interventions and writing their analysis as a critical essay
  • Examples and exercises to promote an interactive, transformative learning environment and encourage the development of critical thinking skills
  • Service learning activities in every chapter that can be completed as individual, group, or class projects
  • Review questions, exercises, and an "Under the Lens" feature in every chapter to help readers deepen their understanding
  • Student and scholar essays that demonstrate the model's critical application
Intended Audience:
Ideal for advanced undergraduate and graduate courses in Rhetorical Criticism, Rhetorical Theory, Persuasion, Public Address, Social Movements, and Advocacy Communication, the book's focus on criticism as a tool for interpreting social change makes it an excellent supplement for courses in other communication sub-specialties, such as public relations and advertising, and in related disciplines such as marketing, sociology, political science, management, and not-for-profit management. The book also offers communication practitioners a useful guide for the strategic planning of interventions.

Section I: The Rhetoric of Social Intervention Model
1. Rhetoric as Social Intervention
Rhetorical Criticism  
RSI Model  
Rhetorical Lenses  
Book Overview  
Chapter Summary  
Review Questions  
Chapter Exercises  
Service Learning Exercise  
Under the Lens: Sharing Students' Insights  
2. Naming as a Social Intervention
Naming Overview  
The Naming Process  
The Rhetorical Functions of Naming  
The Rhetorical Strategies of Naming  
Chapter Summary  
Review Questions  
Chapter Exercises  
Service Learning Exercise  
Under the Lens: Making Sense of Experience  
3. Systemic Naming as Social Intervention
Need Subsystem: Intrapersonal Categorizing  
Power Subsystem: Interpersonal Categorizing  
Attention Subsystem: Interpretative Categorizing  
Subsystems as Holographic Systems  
Chapter Summary  
Review Questions  
Chapter Exercises  
Service Learning Exercise  
Under the Lens: Abstracting From Experience  
4. Widening Circles of Intervention
System Intervention  
Attention Intervention  
Power Intervention  
Need Intervention  
Ideology Intervention  
Chapter Summary  
Review Questions  
Chapter Exercises  
Service Learning Exercise  
Under the Lens: Compensating for Social Order Challenges  
5. Process and Practice of RSI Criticism
Preanalysis: Naming the Social Intervention  
Analysis: Asking Critical Questions  
Postanalysis: Writing the Critical Essay  
Chapter Summary  
Review Questions  
Chapter Exercises  
Service Learning Exercise  
Under the Lens: Finding Inspiration  
6. Process and Practice of Intervention
The Model as Practical Intervention  
The Model as Rhetorical Intervention  
The Book as Intervention  
Chapter Summary  
Review Questions  
Chapter Exercises  
Service Learning Exercise  
Under the Lens: Interpreting Scholarship  
Section II: RSI Criticism Essays
RSI Essays Introduction
Essay 1: From Count Them Out to Count Us In, by Shannon DeBord
Essay 2: "The Lady's Not for Turning," by Seth Phillips and Mark Gring
Essay 3: The Butterflies' Rhetorical Challenge, by Omolara Oyelakin
Essay 4: Born to Power, by Lee Snyder
Key features
  • Because the overall purpose of this book is to instruct students in the theory and methodology of the rhetorical model of social intervention, the book focuses on explaining the model's concepts and illustrating how it can be applied; it emphasizes both the conceptual and practical aspects of the RSI model.
  • The textbook is geared to promoting an interactive classroom environment that encourages students' self discovery and development of critical awareness of intervention.

The textbook will include the following components to augment the textual discussion:

  • Vocabulary: Each chapter will include highlighted vocabulary words and a list of those words at its end. The vocabulary words will be defined in a glossary at the end of the textbook. This component will benefit the students because along with learning the model, they must learn the "language" of that model. The vocabulary lists at the end of the chapter will offer students immediate review of key terminology for classroom discussion and quizzes.
  • Examples: To illustrate the RSI model's concepts, several contemporary texts (such as a film, a book, and an event) are used continuously throughout the textbook as examples of rhetorical interventions for analysis. These texts provide the benefit of concretizing the model's abstract concepts and maintaining the students' interest and attention. In addition, using the same texts in through the book will provide a unifying sense to the textbook. Examples of texts include: "The DaVinci Code," "Fahrenheit 9/11," speeches from the Rosa Parks memorial service.
  • Chapter Exercises: Each chapter includes several exercises and/or texts for analysis and reflection. These exercises benefit students by reinforcing concepts discussed in the chapter. In addition, the exercises relate to students' everyday experience to further illustrate the relevancy of the theory to their daily lives. In addition, the exercises facilitate classroom discussion on the topic and some are geared toward in-class small group work.
  • "How To" Chapter: The textbook includes a chapter that describes the process of writing a rhetorical critique using the RSI model. It includes four "How To" lists—one for "Naming" and one for each of the model's dimensions—"Attention," "Power," and "Need." These "How To" lists provide a series of specific questions that students use to conduct a rhetorical analysis and critique of a social intervention. Students benefit by having a clearly explained framework for conducting the critique.
  • Case Studies/Further Thoughts: The second half of the textbook features several original essays that demonstrate how students have used the RSI model to analyze and critique a variety of communication situations. These essays illustrate need, power and attention intervention analyses. The essays provide a model for how the students should write a rhetorical analysis. Instructors will benefit from having easily accessible illustrations of the model's application. Each essay includes a box of "Further Thoughts." These thoughts include reflective questions about the essay and/or the author's comments about the writing of the essay.

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