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Rhetorical Criticism vs. Qualitative or Quantitative Research
The following are links to examples of three kinds of empirical studies: qualitative, quantitative, and rhetorical critical studies. Examine the abstracts of these studies (or the studies themselves). They share a "common" topic - parent communication - yet they are examples of the three different types of communication research studies:
Rhetorical Criticism Research- Rhetorical critical communication studies focus on understanding communication texts through rhetorical analysis. Terms such as "rhetoric", "narrative', and 'discourse" are indicative of this type of analysis. The focus is on the texts and their rhetorical function in specific rhetorical environments.
Qualitative Research Study - Qualitative communication studies focus on the behavior of people and why they think and behave in particular ways. A study is constructed to examine a group of participants which is carefully selected (and described) to be representative of the group being studied. Texts of various sorts may well be studied (such as interviews or survey results) in order to understand particular behavior.
Quantitative Research Study - Quantitative communication studies focus on understanding why people behave in particular ways. Studies are constructed to try and determine cause and effect relationships between particular variables. Samples of participants are randomized with the goal to find variables that show statistically significant causes and effects.
Feminist Rhetorical Criticism:
While many scholars have looked at the depictions of men and masculinity in advertising,
there have been few studies examining more recent ads attempting to court men as an audience
for body care products. Additionally, there have also been numerous scholarly articles written on
Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign, evaluating its effectiveness and feminist stance, but to date,
there is a lack of scholarship on Dove’s Men + Care campaign. Using feminist rhetorical
criticism and theory about hegemonic masculinity, this paper looks at a sample of 50 print/web
ads from the campaign to determine the extent to which traditional masculinity is challenged.
Despite some promising elements in the ads, the rhetorical criticism reveals that they reflect only
a quasi-progressive masculinity, providing some defiance of traditional, hegemonic masculinity,
but ultimately remaining safely situated in conventional ideas about gender as a means of
limiting threats to both men and patriarchy.
Ideological Criticism Study:
Despite living in a “post-racial” era, the election of Donald Trump seems to
indicate the revitalization of racial anxieties through his deployment of figures
such as the drug dealer and immigrant rapist. While scholars have examined
his overt racism, fewer attend to his more inclusive rhetoric. This paper
addresses Trump’s conservative rhetoric and his use of multicultural discourse.
I argue it is in part through this seeming contradiction between Trump’s overt
racism and claims to inclusion that he constructs a particular vision of “the
American people” which harmonizes his white racial fantasy with a denial of his
racism. In doing so, I seek to reveal that Trump is not antagonistic toward
multicultural incorporation but rather an extension of its most insidious features;
namely, the way multicultural rhetoric claims to include oppressed
people while at the same time compounding their oppression.
WhenMichelle Obama was first introduced to the American public
in 2008, shewas depicted in themedia as an unpatriotic, stereotypical,
angry Black woman. Today, she is more popular than
the president. This study examines the narrative about Michelle
Obama created by the first lady and the White House through
YouTube videos uploaded in an attempt to redefine her in ways
that are more acceptable to the public. The authors examine that
narrative in videos posted by the White House, mainstream news
and entertainment outlets, and allied organizations, with a focus
on the intersectionality of gender, race and class in her story. The
findings indicate that Obama’s story reflects a neoliberal narrative
framed by two themes: (a) the American Dream is achievable
through education, hard work, and perseverance; and (b) motherhood
and family are primary. Within this neoliberal narrative,
racism and poverty are obstacles to be overcome through making
the right choices, and gender is viewed through the narrow lens
of motherhood rather than gendered inequalities. This narrative is
both shaped and constrained by Obama’s race, class background,
and gender, aswell as the goal of creating a more acceptable public
Scholarly articles are complex pieces of writing. They are written by scholars, for scholars, and the authors assume that readers will have extensive background knowledge of the field. As a student, you will need to work harder than a professional sociologist to fully understand a scholarly article. This is not a bad thing. You just aren't as familiar with sociological research as a practicing sociologist because you're still in college.
Follow these steps for reading success. You should read the article 3 times.
READING 1: In your first reading, do not read the article from start to finish.
Read the title, the abstract, the introduction, sub-headings, and conclusion.
Put a question mark (?) next to any word or concept you do not understand. You will revisit these later.
Write down 1 or 2 sentences that summarize the article. This sentence should answer the question: What is this article about?
READING 2: Now that you're oriented to the article and know the basics of the author's study, your second reading will allow you to pay attention to important details you missed the first time around.
Read the beginning and end of sub-sections. Pay particular attention to topic sentences (authors make important points in the first sentences of their paragraphs).
When you come across the words/concepts you put a "?" next to during the first reading, look them up so that you know what they mean (consult your textbook, an encyclopedia, the web...)
Answer 3 questions:
1. What is the purpose of the article?
2. What are the author's main arguments?
3. What new contribution does this article make to the field of sociology? (Essentially... why does this study matter?)
READING 3: This is your final pass - review sections that still confuse you.
Take notes on the authors' arguments, evidence, and findings. (You might find it helpful to paraphrase in the margins)
Answer 1 final question: Did the authors succeed in making their argument?