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Argumentation in Public Communication


Greco S.

Docente titolare del corso

Serafis D.

Docente titolare del corso

Mercuri C.



Recent research in public communication reveals the importance of an argumentative turn in policy analysis. This turn is justified because, in public communication, most activities and interactions (oral and written) are characterized by argumentation, as actors are committed to be accountable for their decisions and give reasons for their claims. Argumentation in Public Communication (3 ECTS) focuses on argumentation as a means to resolve disagreement through reasonable dialogue. It assumes that a well-conducted argumentative dialogue ideally increases

the quality of public communication. This course provides students with a method to analyze and design arguments, based on a discussion of a series of case studies within different contexts of public communication, ranging from public press releases, to policy documents, to the debate around popular initiatives, to NGO campaigns and political debates and their echoes on the media. Students will be able to reconstruct which argument schemes are used in in different contexts and documents of public communication (distinguishing, for example, argument schemes such as means-end argumentation, analogy and appeals to authority), analyze their implicit premises and evaluate their validity. Throughout the course, we will adopt a critical perspective, thanks to which the reconstruction of argumentation will be associated to the critical evaluation of its logical and communicative appropriateness. In the 2021 edition, students will be confronted with the topic of hate speech and its consequences at the level of public communication. The course adopts a bottom-up approach, based on the analysis of empirical data (documents, oral discourses) in the field of public communication and administrative rhetoric. Classroom interaction will allow significant space for students’ discussion, group-work, and guided controversy in order to see how argumentation works in practice. A complete syllabus will be made available at the beginning of the course.

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