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Rhetorical Citizenship & Sponsors

An Academic Paper
Monica Fegert 5/28/2012

Rhetorical Citizenship & Sponsors


How does one define rhetorical citizenship? Moreover, what makes an educational sponsor of rhetorical citizenship stand out amongst all influences? Before we can dive into the application of rhetorical citizenship, we must first dissect the meaning of each part of this concept.

Defining Rhetoric
Because rhetoric is such a broad concept, its true definition varies between scholars. Rhetoric is the formula of construing communication through a means of words, gestures, symbols, tone, and circumstance that effectively results in an altered perception of the audience. It is truly the basis for all reality. Politics, government, social status, and even science, is stemmed from the seed of rhetoric. In the words of John Poulakos, rhetoric is the art which seeks to capture in opportune moments that which is appropriate and attempts to suggest that which is possible. These opportune moments are the variables in the formula of rhetoric. Because it is so powerful, rhetoric should be dealt with ethically. It can lead a nation, but if found in the wrong hands, it can also result in destruction. Rhetoric is more prevalent in society than one may know.

Identifying True Citizenship


With this in mind, its also known that citizenship is another concept that differs greatly amongst commonality. Prior to seeking an academic meaning, it is easy to assume the legal definition of citizenship. To illustrate, if one walked up to someone standing on the side of the road and asked them if they were a citizen, more than likely they would reply with a yes. If one was to dig deeper and ask the question of why, they would receive a reply with something along the lines of a birth right or a legal process. Granted that the one in question is not in the wrong, there is yet a different aspect of this

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concept. Citizenship, socially defined, is how one productively contributes to society. There are countless outlets through which civic participation can take place. Voting, recycling, obeying laws, and educating ones self are basic civic responsibilities that every member of society participates in in order to claim their citizenship. Being active in politics, running for office, and volunteering for charity are also outlets of contribution. Being a citizen requires having a positive influence on society, regardless of the magnitude.

Communication & the Community


These two former definitions bring together a concept that draws on an art form of communication and civic responsibility. Rhetorical citizenship is the techne of effectively construed means of communication to solve issues in society. Whether through speeches, articles, brochures, flyers, or any means of communication within the community, effectiveness is the key. It calls for rhetorical listening with thorough understanding, logic of accountability, identifying similarities and differences, and interpreting cultural logics. Thorough understand requires listening with intent to see both the point of the speaker or author and the personal intent the listener may be seeking. Logic of accountability is another important aspect of rhetorical listening as a part of rhetorical citizenship. It focuses on the present situation, ignoring blame, and encourages movement toward solving the problem. Identifying similarities and differences allows common ground to be sought and identity to be found, even in differences. It strengthens the link in rhetorical listening between claims and cultural logic. These claims and logic can then be interpreted to better understand those with differing opinions. (Ratcliffe, 26-34).

Rhetorical Education
It is said that a civic responsibility has been given to higher education. Universities are expected to produce educated, responsible, and effective members of society. (Higher Education, 1) By providing in-depth knowledge on democracy, government, and legal studies, discussing current

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events, encouraging service-learning and instigating participation in the community, higher education institutions can graduate life-long citizens of the nation. If importance is placed on civic responsibilities that are expected of a true citizen, it will lead to a more efficient society. Schools are the epitome of a utopia for grounds of rhetorical citizenship. Students of different cultures and backgrounds constantly interact, argue, discuss, discover, and cooperate with each other on a daily basis. It provides a branch for tolerance, logic, and understanding. However, institutions of education arent the only means of providing insight into rhetorical citizenship.(The Civic Mission of Schools, 1-12)

Sponsors of Rhetorical Citizenship


Although one constantly encounters various influences of citizenship throughout their lifetime, theres only a select few that tend to leave their mark on our ideas and perceptions. These sponsors can have a lasting effect on how one shapes their ideas of rhetorical citizenship. A sponsor of rhetorical citizenship that has shaped me the most has been my own mother. My mother was born in Alabama and was raised with the same virtues as any other southern woman. She resonates with poise and tact and never has a bad thing to say about anyone. Growing up, my mother did her best to instill in me the importance of making a difference. She encouraged me to do well in school, taught me manners, and showed me the difference between right and wrong. Rewards were given for good deeds and behavior, but punishment followed if I ever did something that I knew I shouldnt. Still to this day, she reminds me that one might not remember what you say, but theyll remember how you made them feel the absolute essence of rhetoric. My mother is also a very charitable woman. She continuously encourages me to volunteer and seek every opportune moment to lend a helping hand. Knowing my love for writing, she cheers on the idea of using it as a medium to make a difference in the community. Additionally, the Indian River City United Methodist Church is an educational sponsor that has greatly influenced my ideas of rhetorical citizenship. Through sermons, the church has made it clear that the

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Lord gives everyone a talent to use for the common good of the community. Since one of my talents is writing, it has directed me into deeper thoughts of how I can make an impact of any scale on society through words. The church has also provided me with a righteous and ethical example of rhetorical citizenship my pastor. Through his words, expressions, gestures, and delivery, he makes a difference in the lives of every member of the community on those Sunday mornings. He evokes emotion and makes a call to action. This is the very core of rhetorical citizenship. All in all, with rhetoric defined as formula of construing communication through a means of words, gestures, symbols, tone, and circumstance that effectively results in an altered perception of the audience and citizenship being the participation in society, rhetorical citizenship isnt that complex of a concept. Using words in an effective way to make positive contributions to society is the purest form of rhetorical citizenship. Through higher education and our own personal sponsors, rhetorical citizenship is a concept that we are well-versed in and must put to use for the betterment of society. My personal educational sponsors have planted the seed of rhetorical citizenship, but only I can nurture it and make it blossom into something beneficial for all.

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Works Cited
Ratcliffe, Krista. Rhetorical Listening: Identification, Gender, Whiteness. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 2005. Print. "Higher Education: Civic Effectsc Mission and Civic E."Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. N.p., 02 2006. Web. "The Civic Mission of Schools." Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. N.p., 2003. Web.

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