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Author Clancy, Kristine Elizabeth
Title Defining people: An analysis of the congressional lexicon on immigration reform
book jacket
Descript 245 p
Note Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 71-05, Section: A, page:
Advisers: Charles J. Stewart; Robin P. Clair
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Purdue University, 2009
Definitions are not neutral acts of classification. Definitions provide the foundation of our interactions with the subjects and objects defined. All definitions are arguments, even uncontroversial definitions function as claims about how the world should be. Most scholarship on definitions has concerned itself with either argument about definition or argument from definition. Instead this study examines persuasive definitions and argument by definition. Argument by definition acknowledges the epistemic nature of rhetoric and the power defining (naming) has to shape public policy argument
Definitions function rhetorically; the act of defining conveys a positive or negative attitude in the course of naming. In the case of persuasive definitions, the argument is never actually advanced. Instead, the definition is simply put forward as real or objective and the argument is simply smuggled in through the use of the definition itself. The definition functions terministically, foregrounding certain elements of the situation and backgrounding others. As a result, the definition affects what counts as data for or against a proposal by describing causes and identifying solutions at the same time it invites moral judgments
This study investigated persuasive definitions and their use as argument by definition by exploring the use of persuasive definitions in a contemporary debate where the definitional dispute remains dormant (it is not a live dispute of a group of language users). This study examines the Congressional debate over the Border Protection, Anti-Terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 as a case study
During the Congressional debate, several different persuasive definitions of immigrants are used, including illegal alien, undocumented, and worker/laborer. During the Congressional debate the persuasive definitions of immigrants functioned as arguments by definition by constructing immigration policy in a specific way. Representatives constructed the immigration problem based on the terminology they chose to talk about immigrants. The persuasive definitions functioned terministically to select, reflect, and deflect reality. This terministic function was evident in the way the different Representatives constructed the immigration problem, assigned cause and blame, and offered solutions
School code: 0183
Host Item Dissertation Abstracts International 71-05A
Subject Speech Communication
Political Science, General
Alt Author Purdue University. Communication
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