“Living Proof: Autobiographical Political Argument in We are the 53 Percent and We are the 99 Percent.” International Journal of Communication, 2015.

Doron Taussig
Research Area: 

People often cite life experiences as evidence in political arguments, though personal experience is far from generalizable. How do these arguments work? In this paper, Taussig considers the rhetorical dynamics of “autobiographical political argument” by examining We are the 99 Percent and We are the 53 Percent, two blogs that use autobiographical stories to make discursive points. He argues that these autobiographical appeals efficiently use all three of Aristotle’s persuasive “proofs”—logos (logic), ethos (credibility), and pathos (emotion). Then he shows that many of the blogs’ stories focus on “redemption,” a theme personality psychologists have found emphasized in the narrative identities, or “stories of self,” of Americans. Taussig argues that autobiographical political arguments draw on the cultural and psychological power of life stories. These findings are evidence of how “narrative rationality” enables public engagement.