Essay Analysis Of Bloch 's Study Of Oratory

Essay Analysis Of Bloch 's Study Of Oratory

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In Bloch’s study of oratory in a hierarchical study in Madagascar he found that politeness was a hidden form of social control that served the reinforce the status quo. By defining and regulating the manner of speech, the content is also indirectly restricted: ‘This type of restriction is…much more powerful than a direct attack on content, since it goes right through the whole range of possible responses’ . This restriction is especially difficult to challenge because the restriction is hidden to actors. The Magalasy make all their important decisions in the councils which work according to fixed rules regulating speech-making. Bloch argued that social control was exercised through their elaborate forms of oratory which used fixed formal styles endless quotations and proverbs . The speeches made by Merina elders always followed the same form; beginning slowly, hesitantly and quietly, before gradually appearing to gain more confidence and becoming louder before ending the speech in the same quiet manner as it began. The orators’ proverbs, stories and speech forms, choices of gesture and also of posture are fixed by the rules of oratory— choice of what can be said and how it can be said has largely disappeared. The conclusions and decisions made in these councils are very rarely challenged. People are caught by the formalisation of oratory into accepting, without the possibility of opposition, what is proposed. Once someone is allowed to speak in an oratorical manner, their proposal, in effect, is accepted. This occurs because the code adopted by the speaker contains also a fixed pattern of speech for the other party. To accept the code one can only listen and allow a pause to elapse—which is to accept their proposal. The spea...


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...ollect firewood and fruit. However, the farmer himself said he put up fences, which villagers would slash down and take away (“The War of the Fence”). Fortmman argues that it is highly unlikely, given the colonial history of Zimbabwe and the character of the white farmer in question, that these gates ever existed. Yet the existence of these gates were part of a discursive strategy of the villages to assert and articulate their claims to the commercial farm land and its resources. By claiming that even the previous owner of the land, the white man, had recognized their rights to the land, they could question how “one of us” (the new black owners) failed to do so. The villagers say they were promised they would get the farms after independence in return for their suffering. The villagers tell these stories to legitimate their ongoing claim to the land denied to them.

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