Human Studies

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 237–248 | Cite as

The linguistic organization of public controversy: A note on the pragmatics of political discourse

  • William M. Berg
  • J. Michael Ross
Article
  • 64 Downloads

Conclusion

This paper does not mean to imply that it is only public controversy that can meaningfully affect political outcomes, or even that it is the most important factor. Rather, we have attempted to indicate that public controversy constitutes a forum on which political actorsact; on which they attempt to implicate each other and the public in terms of some preferred view of the controversy at hand. It is certainly the case that the formal structure of the government and power relationships provides important constraints in terms of which controversy may take place. Yet within these constraints, actors can meaningfully construct various views of the structure of the controversy which differently construe the rights and obligations of participants. In this sense, the course of public controversy may in part be understood as a function of the language employed by these actors, both to the extent that particular expressions stand as documentary evidence of underlying discrepancies about the shape of the controversy and to the extent that the logic of certain speech-acts constrains the forms subsequent statements may take.

Keywords

Formal Structure Political Philosophy Power Relationship Political Discourse Important Constraint 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Clark, K.B. Social science, constitutional rights and the courts. In R.C. Rist & R.J. Anson (Eds.),Education, social science and the judicial process. New York: Teachers College Press, 1977.Google Scholar
  2. Fillmore, C.J. Verbs of judging: an exercise in semantic description. In C.J. Fillmore & D.T. Langendorn (Eds.),Studies in linguistic semantics. Charles Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971.Google Scholar
  3. Garfinkel, H.Studies in ethnomethodology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1967.Google Scholar
  4. Gusfield, J.R.Symbolic crusade. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1963.Google Scholar
  5. Hacker, P.M.S.,Insight and illusion. Oxford: Oxford-Clarendon Press, 1972.Google Scholar
  6. Mannheim, K.Essays in the sociology of knowledge. New York: Oxford University Press, 1952.Google Scholar
  7. Pitkin, H.F.Wittgenstein and justice. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1972.Google Scholar
  8. Ross, J.M. & Berg, W.M.The Boston school desegregation crisis: An historical and narrative account (Tech. Rep.) National Institute of Education, 1978.Google Scholar
  9. Ryle, G.Dilemnas. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1956.Google Scholar
  10. Sacks, H. Sociological description.Berkeley Journal of Sociology, 1963,8.Google Scholar
  11. Searle, J.R.,Speech acts: An essay in the philosophy of language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969.Google Scholar
  12. Waismann, F. Language strata. In A. Flew (Ed.),Logic and language (2nd Ed.. Oxford: Basil Blackwell Mott Ltd., 1959.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ablex Publishing Corporation 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • William M. Berg
    • 1
  • J. Michael Ross
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of SociologyWashington UniversitySt Louis
  2. 2.Department of SociologyBoston UniversityBoston

Personalised recommendations