Doing Diversity: Text–Audience Agency and Rhetorical Alternatives

Sine Nørholm Just, Tanja Juul Christiansen

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    Questions of agency in text–audience relations are less studied than other aspects of rhetorical agency. We suggest conceptualizing and analyzing the relationship between texts and audiences from the perspective of performativity, as it has been developed by Judith Butler. Thus, we argue that texts invite audiences to take up subject positions, understood as combinations of identity and agency. Danish diversity management rhetoric functions as an illustrative example; in analyzing this type of rhetoric we show how subjects are called into restrained positions of similarity/difference and thereby demonstrate the explanatory potential of the performative framework. Subsequently, we discuss how the concept of personae may provide a basis for alternatives to the restrictive positioning that currently dominates diversity management rhetoric.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalCommunication Theory
    Issue number3
    Pages (from-to)319–337
    Number of pages19
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

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