Ramat Gan (Online)
The Dialogicity Continuum: Rethinking the Value-ladeness of Communication and Discourse
With the background of a tidal spread of neoliberal ideologies, in recent decades we have witnessed the global flourishing of populist leaders and governments, leaning towards totalitarian and fascist regimes. These regimes share the tendency for personal veneration, moral corruption, excessive use of oppressive methods, and types of governmentality that employ separationist and exclusionary discourses and divisive rhetoric. They also share a global spread, including within liberal democracies.
Moreover, such tendencies have been fueled during the last two decades by the related pervasive rise of social media and social network sites. These pervasive, private owned technologies, further echo, magnify, and enhance radicalism and separationist ideologies, deepening social exclusion of ever-growing marginalized publics and populations. Radical reactionary discourse and social media networks are viewed as reactionary in relation to civic ideas and ideals, and hyper-conservative in terms of potential emancipatory and democratic social change.
At the same time, social media platforms and social network sites specifically act as online spaces of and for support, communality and solidarity. At times they supply arenas for radical social activism, which may spill over from cyberspaces to offline spaces of protest and defiance. Scholars of public discourse have in the past focused mainly on negative rhetoric and discourse. Yet recently, we have experienced an emerging tendency to emphasize the implications and ramifications of positive and hopeful communication and discourse in the public sphere.
At this point in time, we wish to intervene, and to position the discussion of positive and negative modes of communication and rhetoric in center-stage. We offer to do so by proposing a conceptual continuum, whereon different value-laden communication and discourses may be arranged, arching between positive and negative types of communication and discourse.
In the part of the continuum that concerns positive communication and discourse, we may offer such discursive themes and genres as hope, trust, support, solidarity, community, social justice and social activism, civility, politeness, and amicable communication. On the other side of the continuum, we may see communication practices and discourse strategies associated with despair, disappointment, alienation, impoliteness, hate speech, and racism.
We propose an exploration into this continuum and into these discursive and value-laden themes, by applying the concepts of dialogue and dialogicity; and vice versa, we seek to interrogate and develop the conceptual and methodological vocabulary of dialogue studies, through examining these contemporary, powerful and pervasive discourses. Indeed, the tensions between negative and positive discourses shed light on the role of negotiations and dialogue across a myriad of environments and of scholarly disciplines. Questions may be addressed as to the genre-dependent and culture-dependent relations between the negative/positive ends of the continuum through such notions as:
• power and solidarity
• social and interactional rights and obligations
• self- and other positioning
• social and interactional relations between speakers
• audience- and shadow audience-construction, addressivity and responsiveness
• co-construction of collective action
• conflict management
• conflict resolution
• coexistence of social groups holding contrasting views in an institutional setting
• praise and blame, exhortation or repudiation, and other rhetorical modes
We contend that the notion of continuum suggests not only edges and extremes, but also overlaps, similarities, intermixtures, and tensions between and along different types of discourses and rhetoric positioned on this continuum. We seek to explore and ask of the mechanisms of these types of public discourses and rhetoric, as well as the spaces in which they flourish (or from which they have been barred) in malevolent and benevolent alleged capacities. We are particularly interested in empirical and theoretical studies that address dialogical contexts and settings, including face-to-face and mediated communication, health and educational environments, social movements and social activism, media and new media studies, museum studies, organizational studies, and so on.
While we encourage submissions of papers and sessions around the aforementioned discussion, contributors are also invited to suggest additional questions connecting the negative/positive continuum and dialogue, as well as broader themes relating to dialogue.
Prof. Chaim Noy, Prof. Elda Weizman, Prof. Zohar Livnat