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Rhetorical foreground and background


anyone who may be influenced by a speech, not just the people present

authoritative sphere

only views that are encouraged to be expressed are those which are sanctioned by an established authority


high status, the majority

closed society

in which leaders are responsible for making decisions and suppressing opinions they feel to be unnecessary or dangerous.


obstacles the rhetor might face w/ audience

contested exigence

rhetorical public speech addresses a problem about whose very reality remains in doubt for an audience


some unexpected obstacle, perplexity, or problem


accepted rules of written and spoken language

counter publics

their organization exists outside of and counter to the established mechanisms of the state.


the characteristics of a population with respect to age, race, and gender.


an issue, problem, or situation that causes or prompts someone to write or speak.

external constraints

people, objects, processes, and events that may be physically obstruct any productive action even if persuasion of an audience has occurred

internal constraints

constraints related to persuasive effects; beliefs, attitudes, and values of an audience


low status


persuading an audience to think, feel, and act in way different than it already does

motives of the participants

various cognitive, emotional, and behavioral attitudes and responses that may influence their future beliefs, feelings, and actions


specific setting shared by speaker and audience whose circumstances constrain the form and appropriateness of what is said

open society

society in which facts are made available and judgments are made by its members through open discussion and persuasion
change is not a threat to be feared but a process to be managed


a personal belief or judgment that is not founded on proof or certainty

personal sphere

technical jargon is shunned in favor of a language which favors the expression of intimate feelings, experiences, and opinions

practical judgement

the act of defining a particular person, object, or event in terms of a general category for the purpose of making a practical decision


"on people's minds"


complex interaction of indivuals that constitute a political culture

public opinion

A body of attitudes, beliefs, and views pertaining to specific issues held by a significant proportion of a society.

public sphere

provides diversity of opinions in order to promote new ways of thinking and acting


one's intention or objective in a speech or piece of writing


the speaker who uses elements of rhetoric effectively in oral or written text

rhetorical background

represents the larger environment that defines the historical and social context for any particular rhetorical event

rhetorical constraints

obstacles that must be overcome in order to facilitate both the persuasive and practical effects desired by the speaker

rhetorical exigence

public issue that generates concern and uncertainty and which can be resolved part through rhetorical persuasion

rhetorical foreground

represents the specific and salient aspects of a common situation as it affects or interests some audience at a particular moment in time

rhetorical situation

when oublic contigencies generate concern and uncertainty within a public audience and give force and effectiveness to persuasive discourse which encourages collective action

situated audience

the audience that physically exists together in a particular place and time to hear a message

social knowledge

signifies a cultures conventional wisdom and practical judgement as expressed in maxims, generally held beliefs, and value judgements




distinct from the public insofar as it represents the instrument that the public uses to address consequences that it deems important enough to manage


how things are "ranked"

target audience

group of people who are both able to be persuaded and capable of acting in such a way to help resolve the exigence

technical situation

exists when we confront problems with a proven discourse and method to guide us

technical sphere

an elite group w/ specialized knowledge use technical jargon to discuss narrow problems in a way that average citizens cannot understand.

uncontested exigence

an audience achieves concensus as to the nature of the problem but is uncertain as to the solution

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