Rhetorical Analysis: Globalization in Plain Terms
Alan M. Taylor Ali Abbas’ viewpoint on Globalization, 2001 • Brigham Young University • November 14, 2011 All Right Reserved © 2010, Alan Taylor


Defining our terms: ‘Globalization’ for the Masses Fully grasping a complex concept can be difficult, especially when it originated in a field of study with its own unique jargon. When it comes to globalization and its scope, it’s easy to see why the term, and its meaning can be mis-understood. In his article, “In Defense of Globalization,” Abbas Ali, director of the School for International Management at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, writes to an audience that is skeptical about the merits of globalization, and who may not have a clear understanding of what it entails. He effectively uses an esoteric and optimistic vocabulary, passive voice, diplomatic tone, and acknowledges counter arguments to establish credibility. He weaves into the former a subtle logical appeal through commonplace experiences to persuade the audience to agree with his positive perception of globalization. From the outset, Ali addresses a concern likely held by his audience: that globalization is a trend that will benefit only the small ‘elite’ groups of the world, while impoverishing the majority. Ali counters by explaining that the increased attention to the term has made it vulnerable to distortion, and more likely to be mis-used by the “dominant forces in a society.” (1) He argues that ambiguity and vague definitions of the term are “rendering it into the service of special interest groups instead of the entire global community.” (1) This abuse, he claims, is widespread in both the academic, and business communities. Being deeply embedded in the academic community (Ali is widely published in peer-reviewed journals, and authored a text on Globalization), and referencing the misuse of the term by his colleagues, effectively buys him credibility with his audience of skeptics, and makes the case for his own revised explanation of


the term. With that credibility, his audience is ready to accept his more optimistic depiction of globalization as a force that “highlights commonalities” and “extends benefits and responsibilities on a global scale.” (2) Ali, having established credibility with his audience, then begins to build his argument through a consistent application of sophisticated, but still accessible, vocabulary. Ali’s elevated vocabulary comforts the audience with the impression that they are under the auspices of a benevolent expert, un-corrupted by vested interests in redeeming the tarnished reputation of globalization. He carefully avoids excessively emotional terminology, but consistently uses a wide-ranging vocabulary that is connotatively optimistic. His expository approach to the topic encourages the reader to feel as though he or she is privileged to have ‘insider’ information on the concept of globalization. By avoiding an emotional approach to the explanation, he achieves a broader appeal to those who are frustrated with purely emotional reactions to globalization. The author’s tone and voice, established through word choice, give the reader the impression that the author approaches the topic from a background of deep thought, experience, and reasoning, instead of a shallower emotional reaction. “Based on . . . familiarity with the latest conceptual developments in the areas of global and competition studies,” Ali explains, “the following definition of globalization is suggested . . .” (2) Here he

artfully uses a passive voice to leave his audience with the impression that his explanation is not personally motivated, but a statement based on self-evident fact. He also uses a diplomatic ‘suggestion’ in lieu of an absolute imperative, leaving the reader ample room for a self-propelled, rather than externally imposed, conclusion. Ali also emphasizes the broad applicability of globalization: “ . . . it conveys optimism, and offers infinite possibilities for growth, renewal and


revitalization for every participant in world society.” (2) In this explanation, Ali is careful to point out the universal benefits, not just to the audience but to those beyond the readership of the article, leading the reader to the conclusion that the author’s motive is more egalitarian and less narrowly focused. Intermingled with his examples are phrases and words which were carefully chosen to appeal to the reader in a positive light. Phrases such as “better future,” “possibilities for growth,” “participant,” “leap forward,” “fosters connectivity, interdependence, and integration” (3-4) all contribute to the positive diction of the author, achieving a tone of calm, but optimistic reasoning. With only a few exceptions (generally when speaking about the opposing view point) this diction is uniform throughout the article, lending a stability to the article. Ali’s word choice is perhaps the most subtle rhetorical device he employs, because its effect is largely cumulative, not sudden or explicit. No single word or phrase stands out conspicuously, but the cumulative effect is to lend the article an ‘optimistic’ slant, without a particular word, sentence, or paragraph being the obvious culprit. This allows the reader smoothly follow the author’s line of thought without being jolted or discomfited by blatantly emotional or idealogical appeals that stand in contrast to the entire article. To establish logos, Ali explores the concept using examples from the business world, from current events, and supports his argument with close-to-home examples that are familiar to most people - such as technology, and the ability to interact with people all over the world. These examples lend his conclusion a heuristic quality - with each example arguing that globalization is a natural outgrowth of conditions and expectations that are common to all people, regardless of their geographic locations. Ali writes “. . . groups and individuals across


the globe share a common set of expectation and principles” in an effort to establish common ground. He further clarifies “. . . these forces across the globe anticipate civility in behavior and conduct. In fact, it becomes the foundation for global transformation.” (3) He then posits that technology and connectivity facilitate this transformation, instead of preventing or discouraging it. He also references common problems (predating globalization), which have global effects, as evidence that countries and peoples no longer exist in isolation. He references AIDS, narcotics, terrorism, money laundering and environmental threats, among others, as examples of problems that must be dealt with cooperatively, not in isolation. (3) These examples are generally well known, and give his audience common-knowledge material to build on. For many in the world, the examples he employs serve as a unifying body of thought. The trans-national nature of narcotic-smuggling, for instance, is a recognized problem in every hemisphere, that requires the cooperation of a coalition of nations and languages in order to effectively counter it. All of the examples impress upon his audience the already existing ties that have benefitted societies on almost every continent - ties that are just as, if not more, representative of globalization as ultralarge international corporations that have become the target of globalization antagonists. Ali’s parting argument is that the newly clarified definition of globalization highlights its ability to “ . . . enable the world community to step forward with optimism about the ability to overcome formidable obstacles.” (5) The author’s skillful use of words, sound rebuttal of counter-arguments, and diplomatic voice successfully establishes authority and credibility among his audience, and effectively communicates his argument with an open, and optimistic tone. His didactic approach to the topic invites the audience to be enlightened by a calm, reasoned proponent of the concept, rather than an emotionally compromised opponent, and


enable the reader to relate to a complex topic via simpler, common-knowledge concepts and experiences. In doing so, the author demonstrates the effective use of rhetoric in persuading an educated, intelligent audience. The readers are left with a clearer understanding of the topic, and a more optimistic perception of the much-maligned trend we call globalization.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful

Master Your Semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master Your Semester with a Special Offer from Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.