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Sticky words? Towards a theory of rhetorical path dependency


Grube, DC, Sticky words? Towards a theory of rhetorical path dependency, Australian Journal of Political Science, 51, (3) pp. 530-545. ISSN 1036-1146 (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 Australian Political Studies Association

DOI: doi:10.1080/10361146.2016.1171824


Speech matters. Political actors are defined by what they say as much as by what they do but, with each rhetorical choice, they also narrow the range of rhetorical options open to them for the future. This paper examines the idea of path dependency, a well-established concept in the field of policy studies, and applies it to the study of political rhetoric. It argues that words are sticky, leaving political leaders caught between the desire to utilise fresh and engaging rhetoric to explain new policy choices and the reality that they cannot shake off the wording of their previous promises. In advancing a theory of rhetorical path dependency, the paper builds on the insights of both discursive institutionalism and rhetorical political analysis to suggest that whilst ideas are indeed vital to the shaping of institutions, the arguments that give those ideas shape can themselves be constrained by earlier choices.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Abbott government, discursive institutionalism, path dependency, rhetoric
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Political science
Research Field:Comparative government and politics
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Government and politics
Objective Field:Government and politics not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Grube, DC (Associate Professor Dennis Grube)
ID Code:110270
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:11
Deposited By:School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2016-07-22
Last Modified:2018-03-19

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