The Rhetorical Turn in Social Theory

During the past two decades, the “linguistic” or “rhetorical” turn has emerged as an important intellectual movement in the human and social sciences. It has become a commonplace that society can be viewed as a text and that social and cultural reality, and the sciences themselves, are linguistic constructions. In this view, reality and truth are formed through practices of representation and interpretation by speakers and their publics. This view can be located in the contexts of sociolinguistics, sociology of knowledge, poststructuralism, feminist theory, critical rhetoric of inquiry, and social studies of science, as well as several other intellectual traditions. All these tendencies of thought reject the simple bifurcations of reason and persuasion, discovery and invention, or of thought and its expressions. Instead, knowledge, and ...

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