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Jan 28

by: Andy Lin

Jan 28 Sociology 103

Andy Lin

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Claims and the Audience
Social Problems
Steven Boutcher
Class Notes
25 ?




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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Andy Lin on Friday February 12, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Sociology 103 at University of Massachusetts taught by Steven Boutcher in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 30 views. For similar materials see Social Problems in Sociology at University of Massachusetts.

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Date Created: 02/12/16
Rhetoric of Claims      Warrants: why we should be concerned o  Often draws on broad values (standards of good vs. bad) o  But, people have different values o  Important to draw on many different types in order to broaden the appeal of the claim      Conclusions: what should be done; the solutions offered o  Proposed solutions must be in line with the grounds and warrants or the claim doesn’t make  logical sense Claims and Audiences      Claimsmakers must try to create claims that others will find persuasive      Valence Issues o  Topics that nearly everyone will agree are significant social problems o  Easier for claimsmakers to make certain kinds of claims about these social problems      Position issues: o  Topics over which it is unlikely that most people will ever come to consensus o  More difficult for claimsmakers to persuade most individuals      Audiences are segmented o  Claims differ by audience o  These segmented audiences may have different interests and ideologies o  Strategies for claimsmaking to various kinds of segmented audiences      “Preach to the choir” makes claims only to those who think as you  do(narrow)      Seek out the widest possible audience, often using multiple grounds and  warrants (broad) o     Audiences are not passive but active   They might seek out some claims   Reject others   Pick and choose what makes most sense to them o     Successful claimsmakers are aware of this and pay attention to how the audience is responding to their claims o     Social problems market place  Claims exist alongside numerous other claims  Claimsmakers struggle to get the audience’s attention and keep refining  claims to keep audience’s attention  Even when successful, claimsmakers worry about claims becoming stale. o     How do claimsmakers refine their claims?  Domain expansion: redefining or broadening the definition of the problem  Piggyback/emulation: claimsmakers will connect an emerging issue to a  well­established issue Claims and Counterclaims      Claims must respond to counterclaims o  Mostly for conditions that aren’t valence issues      Both sides must refine and modify their claims based on the other side’s claims Claims and Culture      Where do claims come from? o  Claims don’t originate out of nowhere      Claims must “make sense” o  What makes sense changes over time o  What makes sense varies across contexts      Claimsmakers must pay attention to the cultural context when making claims o  Important if claims are to resonate with the audience      Claimsmakers must also appear genuine in drawing on the cultural context      Claims tap into cultural resources, including: o  Ideas o  Words o  Images o  Values      These cultural resources are not always consistent o  Allows for variation in the types of resources used by different claimsmakers      Cultural resources both limit and enrich the claimsmaking process      Not all claims will resonate with all audiences all of the time o  E.g. marital rape, or child labor o  E.g. claims about “right”      Claims take on a dominant cultural rhetoric o  E.g. rights o  E.g. causality The bottom line      Claims must have a target audience      Claimsmakers often target different audiences at the same time      Claims are in competition with other claims      Some claims are more sympathetic than others      Claims are connected to a given culture at a given time Experts as Claimsmakers      Experts o  Among the most influential of claimsmakers o  Possess special knowledge o  We tend to give deference to experts o  Other claimsmakers draw on expert knowledge in making their own claims      What makes someone an expert? o  Possess authoritative knowledge o  Used to define the conditions of a problem and what we should do to solve it      Is the Pope an expert? (or other religious leaders)      What constitutes knowledge? o  Knowledge changes over time (what is knowable?) o  Knowledge is tied to culture o  Certain forms of knowledge are privileged over others o  Who can even possess knowledge changes over time      The medicalization of social problems o  Issues that we now think about as medical problems were not always defined that way   Ex: drunkard vs alcoholism   Ex. Lazy students vs. learning disorder o  Medicalization shifts the locus of the problem to the individual o  Medicalization doesn’t just happen   Medicalization is just another type of claim/way of thinking about the issue   Ex. Criminal punishment      Whose interests are served in medicalizing issues? o  Since we defer to experts, we don’t tend to question their “authority” o  Medical experts are interested in helping us o  But, they also are interested in expanding their influence   Government assists in this process Medicalization: Some consequences   Individuals given medical diagnoses are perceived as less responsible for their actions   Issues are constructed as individual troubles and often overlooks the role of broader social  structural causes   The medical model frame cedes ownership of these problems to physicians and medical  organizations   The frame has been successful o  More and more problems get constructed with the medical frame Scientific Expertise   The language of science o  Science refers to a way of understanding the world o  Initially applied to the natural world(now includes the social world) o  A social construction in itself   Just one way for us to make sense of the world


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