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Extra info for Microanalysis of Political Communication: Claptrap and Ambiguity (International Series in Socialpsychology)

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In addition, the speech was classified into different speech acts, following principles for content analysis devised by Thomas et al. (1982) in a system called Conversation Exchange Analysis (CEA). In this system, speech is segmented into separate acts, each of which can be seen to represent a single thought or idea. Acts can be further classified along three dimensions: activity, type and focus. The type dimension 36 Political speeches was used in this study to categorise the type of information conveyed in the speech by Arthur Scargill; the categories employed were based on CEA and on the work of Atkinson, Heritage and Greatbatch.

Thus, a further content analysis was carried out of the types of statement used by Arthur Scargill in his speech. 3. These results clearly showed the value of rhetorical devices in inviting applause. A large proportion of Arthur Scargill’s speech was made up of external attacks (58 per cent of the total number of speech acts): 86 per cent of rhetorically formatted external attacks received collective applause, in contrast to only 13 per cent of non-rhetorically formatted external attacks. All of the other types of speech act which received collective applause were applauded more when presented in rhetorical devices, with the exception only of replies to heckling (of which there were only three examples in the whole speech).

Emphasis naturally calls attention to passages to which the speaker attaches particular significance, but Atkinson argues that emphasis alone is rarely sufficient to ensure a response. Projectability is also important, because audience members must decide not only if they will applaud but when to applaud; if the speech is constructed in such a way as to indicate appropriate applause points, this assists the audience in co-ordinating their behaviour. According to Atkinson (1984a, p. 18), the use of rhetorical devices is in the 30 Political speeches interest of the audience, because it helps them applaud together rather than risk exposure to public ridicule and humiliation by applauding in isolation.

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