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"All Vietnamese Men Are Brothers": Rhetorical Strategies and Community Engagement Practices Used to Support Victims of Agent Orange

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Purpose: This article reports communication strategies used by a Vietnamese nonprofit organization to cultivate community engagement. One purpose is to convey a particular, non-Western perspective which can be considered alongside existing literature to highlight similarities and differences in different contexts. Method: A qualitative field study investigating the question, "What are some strategies and keys to communication that facilitate community engagement and stakeholder participation, especially related to issues of Agent Orange in Vietnamese contexts?" We interviewed 38 participants across eleven provinces in north and central Vietnam. Results: The organization studied cultivates community engagement by: • Conveying information through activities and experiences (experiencing information), powerful images (seeing information), and numbers (quantifying information) • Using that information to promote community engagement by reducing stigma and drawing upon a sense of responsibility Conclusion: The organization's community engagement strategies are both similar to and different from those conveyed in existing research on community engagement practice. The purpose of community engagement prioritizes unity, not dissent—a major difference. But the organization is highly attuned to preserving human dignity a significant similarity. The organization intentionally hooks into cultural values to motivate community engagement using rhetorical strategies appropriate to the local context—a similar strategy—but those rhetorical strategies are rooted in different frameworks, requiring different sensibilities and tools than those typically used in Western contexts.
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Keywords: COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT; INTERNATIONAL PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATION; RHETORIC; SOCIAL ACTION; VIETNAM

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2018

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