Critical-rhetorical ethnography: Rethinking the place and process of rhetoric

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52 Scopus citations


Rhetorical scholarship has relied upon textual criticism as a method of examining discourse. However, in the critical turn, rhetorical theory and praxis have been reconsidered, especially in regard to the types and locations worthy of rhetorical examination. Looking toward vernacular rhetorical discourses, rhetorical scholars examine locally situated discourses as they articulate against oppressive macrocontexts. In this essay, I offer critical-rhetorical ethnography as a method for exploring such discourses in the field of argumentation, using the concepts of invention, kairos, and phronesis. The method offers rhetorical scholars a set of theoretical and methodological guidelines for observing and participating within vernacular advocacy. Finally, I use my time with the health advocacy group, DanceSafe, as an exemplar of the method, illustrating its ability to gauge rhetorical effects, advocacy, and learned wisdom.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-152
Number of pages26
JournalCommunication Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Critical rhetoric
  • Ethnography
  • Kairos
  • Phronesis
  • Vernacular studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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