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Nonverbal behaviour as argumentation in election campaign interviews

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Project status

In progress

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Marie Gelang

Research subject

Do politicians argue with their bodies? Normally argumentation is described as: 1) characterized by temporal and sequential representations, 2) based on unambiguous syntactic rules, 3) historically and methodologically linked to the verbal mode of expression and its conventional, semiotic character, 4) being about attitudes and opinions proposed through claim and datum, and hence, is confrontational in nature. It thus appears impossible for a person?s rhetorical actio to make arguments. The body ? it seems ? cannot create the verbal, explicit two-part structure of an argument.

However, arguments are not found in statements, but in people. It is a perspective we take As long as a message works as a stimulus evoking the receiver?s cognitively generated argument the message has been used as argumentation.

This means that also non-verbal behaviour may function as argumentation. Based on a rhetorical, cognitive and contextual view of argumentation and the theory of actio capital this paper will examine the argumentative dimensions of the non-verbal behaviour of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in their contest for the 2008 American Democratic presidential nomination.

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