Date of Award

5-2014

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Committee Chair

Marek Steedman

Committee Chair Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Committee Member 2

Christopher Meyers

Committee Member 2 Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Committee Member 3

Kathanne Greene

Committee Member 3 Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Abstract

A great deal of recent democratic political theory has revolved around the concept of democratic deliberation. However, this brand of theory has neither fully addressed the need for empathy between social groups in the deliberative process nor sufficiently examined the consequences of its absence. Such intergroup empathy is a necessary component of political communication that seeks to root out oppression in a liberal democracy. This project begins with a review of the basic tenets of deliberative democracy, as well as its most common challenges. Habermas' theory of systematically distorted communication is then explored, with intergroup empathy as a suggested remedy. Gendered norms of deliberation, stereotypes, and double consciousness are discussed as obstacles to the development of this empathy. Following this, the results of a lack of empathy are examined through racialized public memory, the sexual contract, and the concept of whiteness. Testimony, narrative, and rhetoric are then discussed as prior attempts to develop empathy in political communication. Finally, this project utilizes Augusto Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed to incorporate both the vital elements of deliberation and the communicative styles inherent in narrative, resulting in a more productive and comprehensive intergroup empathy.

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