Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Human Communications

First Advisor

Darrin Hicks, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Christina Foust

Third Advisor

Bernadette M. Calafell

Fourth Advisor

Sandra Dixon


Athens, Culture, Democratic Rhetoric, Governance, Ideology, Rhetorical democracy


Democracy is a form of governance that allows for the flourishing of human potentiality. Unfortunately, democracy has become less of a means of governance and more of a rhetorical device to secure the consent of the people to be ruled by the elite few. Thus the current study seeks to disrupt this hegemonic means of control through an explication of authentic governance and democracy in order to demonstrate that the current manifestations of governance associated with democracy are inauthentic. To begin, authentic democracy -direct or as it is constituted here, rhetorical democracy- can foster a citizenry of active and empowered participants who express their public wills through rhetorical engagements so as to generate a collective will productive of a collectively binding decision that is reflective of a societal common good. To achieve this end, the foundation of the communicative process is set up as being inherently rhetorical and fundamental for the establishment and continuance of the symbolic orders generative of society's macro- and micro-cultures. Next, engagement of these symbolic orders through democratic rhetoric is necessary for authentic governance to be actualized. Democratic rhetoric posits a new way of understanding and employing invention for rhetorical engagements concerning public problems, as well as constructing a new notion of rhetorical accountability. It is in one's participation in the collectively binding decision-making process of a rhetorical democracy, which necessitates inventing through the symbolic orders of others, that the educative and transformative power of rhetoric is facilitated and realized. Additionally, this study reconceptualizes ideology as primarily a sense-making system that provides a method for critical ideological analysis of both Athenian democracy and American governance. Democratic rhetoric hinges upon the citizenry's ability to participate as empowered, functional equals - core ideological constructs of Athenian democracy - in the collectively binding decision-making process. Finally, to facilitate the possibility of democratic rhetoric within governance the current research constructs the possible means, functions and structures, for enacting a rhetorical democracy within the contemporary political context. The implications of this investigation into meaningful symbol systems, culture, rhetoric, ideology, and democracy and the subsequent theory building will prove to be fruitful within the contexts discussed here and in many others.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.


Received from ProQuest

Rights holder

Daniel L. Foster

File size

361 p.

File format





Rhetoric, Political Science, History