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A pragma-dialectical approach to governmental crisis communication

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To explore an argumentative approach to governmental crisis communication, this research adopts the pragma-dialectical framework to analyze and evaluate a local Chinese government’s crisis discourse concerning disputes over a proposed chemical project. The discourse is collected from the popular local online forum Mengxi Forum. By reconstructing from the discourse the four stages of a critical discussion, analyzing the embedded strategic maneuverings and evaluating the argumentation in view of institutional preconditions, it is shown that in its use of co-ordinative argumentation structures and causal argument schemes, the local government’s crisis discourse is not dialectically reasonable enough to convince the other stakeholders of the necessity to implement the proposed project. The results also shed some light on the necessity for governments’ crisis information management to ensure in its crisis discourse both dialectical reasonableness and rhetorical effectiveness.
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Keywords: dialectical reasonableness; governmental crisis discourse; institutional precondition; pragma-dialectics; rhetorical effectiveness; strategic maneuvering

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 4, 2017

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