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I'm not a native English speaker. I have been reading Rousseau's "The Social Contract", and the phrase "discursive politics" showed up. I'm not really sure what it means...

So, what does it mean?

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closed as general reference by MετάEd, tchrist, choster, Kristina Lopez, Kris Jun 18 '13 at 7:48

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

2 Answers

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Discursive discourse goes step by step, line upon line, precept upon precept to reach an answer to a question or to flesh out a thesis, for example. The Socratic method is a form of discursive discourse, as is the ancient Greek process of dialectic. A free-wheeling, brainstorm-style, anything-goes discussion, discursive discourse is not! It's more Dr. Spock than Captain Kirk.

I'm not saying that discursive discourse cannot take some twists and turns along the way; it's just that the overall direction is straight ahead. What on the surface seems like rambling and digression can actually propel the discussion forward, as someone, for example, gets the discussion back on track when it takes a detour.

In answer to your question, deliberative discourse, the kind of discourse you find in political contexts is--or can be--discursive. In this age of "sound bites" and "spin," the discursive element is sometimes sadly lacking.

It is relatively easy to tout "mom and apple pie" just to get the folks on your side, but it can be quite difficult to persuade a people to go in a direction or to make a choice that is anything but mom and apple pie. Concepts such as sacrifice, delayed gratification, contentment, self-discipline, economic restraint, unity amidst diversity, these are all "hard sell" concepts for many, if not most of us.

Our debt problem in America and abroad, for example, requires more than sound bites and spin; it requires carefully-studied, reasonable, logical, and realistic goals and the plans to accomplish them.

In short: discursive thought, speech, and writing are a part of everyday life. While at times we need to be intuitive and free-flowing, we also need to be anchored in the sometimes hard realities of life with words that meld logic, reason, argument, persuasion, and compassion.

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Any particular reason for the downvote? I'm willing to listen to constructive criticism. –  rhetorician Jun 18 '13 at 14:03
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It's definition #2 here...

Proceeding to a conclusion through reason rather than intuition.

It's archaic now, but perhaps discussive (pertaining to discussion or debate) has had an influence on the currency of discursive politics (both words share the same Latin origin).

It means politics focussed on rational debate rather than appeals to tradition and tribalism.

Here's a link to Wikipedia's page on deliberative democracy (or discursive democracy), which explains it better than I can.

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