I appreciate the insight and discussion all of you are contributing to this blog – keep it up!
Now, on with this week’s readings. The classical theorists are an important foundation for rhetoric today. As you may suspect, rhetoric plays an important role in agricultural communications. The credibility and respect of speakers is an issue dealt with in agricultural communications regularly. This concept of the credibility of a speaker is often referred to as source credibility. If you are interested in more about this theory, here is a link to a thesis about source credibility and agricultural opinion leaders. We will discuss theories of persuasion more in depth later in the semester, but for now I would like to explore some of the basic tenants: logos, ethos, and pathos. In agricultural communications we often see persuasive messages crafted using logos, which certainly has powers of persuasion. When explaining complex scientific topics, logical appeals make sense. However, there are times when logos messages are too complicated and turn off a receiver of the message. The Beef Check-off program has done an excellent job of combining logos and ethos through the use of facts comparing chicken to lean cuts of beef, while milk has effectively used celebrities in advertisements from all different backgrounds and genre which combine ethos with the celebrity connection and logos with the health benefits and nutritional information in the advertisements.
An example of a video that seeks to appeal to emotions is this Common Ground video. By showing farmers as moms just like the other moms in the grocery store, ethos is used. The mom farmers also use logos as they discuss their farms. How effective do you think an effort like this is?
What examples have you seen of agricultural communications utilizing logos, ethos, and/or pathos? Which principle do you see agricultural communications utilizing the most? Which standard of theory evaluation or development, discussed in previous chapters, does this speak to?
As we move to contemporary rhetoric, we see the basic premises of classic rhetoric evolve into specific theories. As agricultural communicators seek to engage with the public and alter or change their perceptions, text and discourse are often used as units of analysis. Sometimes the perceptions people have of the agricultural industry are based on images or symbols as seen in the theory of symbolic convergence. We have all seen the picture of an old man in overalls standing in a golden field of wheat, or a plow and horse. Perhaps these are not symbols of modern agriculture, but symbols none-the-less, and perhaps may even fall into a fantasy theory. Narratives are often built on images, text, and discourse combined. While people may have a fantasy picture of agriculture that is either positive or negative, as agricultural communicators seek to change that narrative it is important to be aware of narrative fidelity. Will it ring true to the receiver? The process of working toward narrative fidelity may be viewed as strategic action. We see the theory of communicative action represented as the public strives for answers to how their food is produced. Communicative orientation indicates it is their right to ask and seek the truth. Agricultural communicators should be prepared to share a narrative strategically, truthfully, and in a way the public is prepared to receive it.
One example of a strategic narrative is Chipolte. Chipotle often divides those in the agricultural community. No matter how you feel about Chipotle, its advertising is persuasive. What theories of rhetoric do you see represented in Chipolte’s ad here?
How could conventional agriculture use the same theory(s) to its advantage?