The Rhetoric of Political Leadership
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The Rhetoric of Political Leadership

Logic and Emotion in Public Discourse

Edited by Ofer Feldman

This timely book details the theoretical and practical elements of political rhetoric and their effects on the interactions between politicians and the public. Expert contributors explore the issues associated with political rhetoric from a range of disciplinary perspectives, including political science, linguistics, social psychology and communication studies. Chapters examine what makes a speech effective, politicians’ use of moral appeals in political advertising, political attacks on social media, and gender and emotion in political discourse.
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Chapter 8: The rhetoric of broadcast talk shows in Japan: the art of equivocation as a political skill

Ofer Feldman

Abstract

Based on empirical data gathered and analyzed during a multi-year study project in Japan this chapter details the question of how influential politicians from both the national and local levels (as well as officials and experts in different areas) cope with a wide range of questions posed to them during televised interview programs. The chapter describes the type, style, and mode of questions presented during such programs to a large number of interviewees, and summarizes data on interviewees’ responsiveness to these questions by focusing on the concept of equivocation, the strategic use of evasive and ambiguous language. Furthermore, the chapter evaluates the significance of such talk shows in providing the public in Japan with relevant political information. This is done by detailing selected aspects in Japanese linguistic and communicative modes, levels of threat to face of interviewees, and socio-cultural factors that affect verbal behavior during these broadcast interviews.

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