Vernacular Voices addresses the role of citizen voices in steering a democracy through an examination of the rhetoric of publics—active segments of society that influence the general climate of public dialogue—and of the associated public spheres and public opinion. Gerard A. Hauser maintains that the interaction between everyday and official discourse discloses how active members of a complex society discover and clarify their shared interests and shape their opinions on issues of common interest.
This book sets forth a conceptual framework, called publics theory, for understanding how the rhetorical character of formal and informal communication bears on the spheres in which publics form and the quality of the opinions they express. Hauser extends his discussion through four case studies. The first explores the role of cultural memory and narrative in shaping the recent political transformations in Central Europe by contrasting events in Poland and the former Yugoslavia. The other case studies explore attempts to redefine the character of the public sphere by the so-called Meese Commission Report, the Carter administration's technological understanding of public opinion during the Iranian hostage situation of 1979-80, and the dialogue of the American people with Franklin D. Roosevelt on the meaning of America as expressed in letters encouraging him to stand for a third term in office.
Gerard A. Hauser is professor of communication and College Professor of Distinction at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is the author of Introduction to Rhetorical Theory and editor of Philosophy and Rhetoric in Dialogue: Redrawing Their Intellectual Landscape. He also edits the journal Philosophy and Rhetoric.
"This diverting, timely study of what it means to have a voice in civil society and how it is achieved offers new conceptions of complex public spheres. . . This title would be apt to use as a textbook, given its wisdom, orderly and clear presentation, and interdisciplinary approach."—Choice
Winner of the 1999 Marie Hochmuth Nichols Prize, Public Address Division of the National Communication Association