Studying political disputes: A rhetorical perspective and a case study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (SciVal)


This article argues that rhetorical analysis is a method particularly well-suited for the study of political disputes and introduces commonplaces as a tool to conduct such analysis. Commonplaces function as key reference points that produce and organise social meaning; they can thus help to clarify the terms of the dispute and illuminate how these are linked to broader debates within the political community. Commonplaces call into attention sedimented views and point to alternative norms of action pursued by agents of change and therefore to entry points for recontestation. The article substantiates this claim through a case study that maps arguments for climate action in party manifestos in the 2019 General Election in the United Kingdom. A rhetorical analysis of the material highlights the emergence of a number of insurgent commonplaces that seek to disturb the dominance of ‘economic growth’ as principle that informs climate action. Commonplaces can provide a more nuanced understanding of public debates, help to identify sedimented ideological views, and illuminate openings for recontestation and the pursuit of alternative socio-ecological arrangements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-199
Number of pages15
Issue number2
Early online date3 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author would like to thank Judi Atkins, Alan Finlayson, James Martin, Nick Turnbull, as well as the two anonymous reviewers and the editor of Politics for their constructive and thoughtful comments. The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.


  • climate change
  • commonplaces
  • political dispute
  • rhetorical analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


Dive into the research topics of 'Studying political disputes: A rhetorical perspective and a case study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this