Rhetorical Agency in a Neoliberal Age: Foucault, Power, Agency, and Ethos

  • Robert Danisch
Part of the Rhetoric, Politics and Society book series (RPS)


Rhetorical agency generally refers to the ability to speak, to express oneself, or to create rhetoric. This essay begins with a consideration of the classical Aristotelian concept of ethos as a mode of expressing and practicing rhetorical agency. Ethos speaks directly to the power of subjectivity and the potential of rhetorical discourse to produce social and political change. Michel Foucault presents a unique and considerable challenge to both classical and modern conceptions of ethos, and helps explain how and why our neoliberal moment complicates ethos as a function of rhetorical agency. In the end, I consider the Occupy Wall Street movement as a way to enact agency in a neoliberal moment.


Hand Gesture Modern Notion Discourse Practice Occupy Wall Street Rhetorical Theory 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Danisch
    • 1
  1. 1.Speech CommunicationUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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