Lecture by Alan Finlayson

The State of Rhetoric in the British State

This lecture will reflect upon the state of rhetoric in the UK today. This entails, firstly, considering the various ways in which political speech and argument have been conceptualised by British scholars and asking why it is only recently that a specifically rhetorical approach has begun to emerge clearly; and secondly, considering the contemporary pressures placed upon British rhetorical culture by the development of neo-liberal forms of governmentality. Rhetoric, it will be argued, is fundamentally concerned with ‘doxa’ and it is uncertainty in relation to this concept that has defined British rhetoric, in theory and in practice.

Alan Finlayson is Professor of Political and Social Theory at The University of East Anglia. He is a leading advocate of rhetorical political analysis and of its importance for the study of British politics. He has published a number of books on both British politics and political theory, including Making Sense of New Labour, Contemporary Political Theory: A Reader and Guide and Democracy and Pluralism. He also writes articles on British politics from a left-wing perspective for The Guardian and Open Democracy. He has written widely read articles on UK Uncut and on the phenomenon of Blue Labour. Finlayson is a noted advocate of the development of Rhetorical Political Analysis within British Political Studies. He promotes the close study of political speech and argument on the grounds that this is a way of understanding the history and development of political ideologies. He is responsible for the website British Political Speech which archives political speeches and promotes the study of political oratory in the UK.

Alan Finlayson is invited by the research group “Debatkultur”, MEF.