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The article comes from "The Rhetorical Functions of Slogans: Classifications and Characteristics" by Robert E. Denton. The title should give away what the entire article is about. I've come to the second to the last page but can't seem to get past this excerpt. I've included the paragraph leading prior to the excerpt and the paragraph afterwards. The excerpt that I'm having trouble with is by Claus Mueller from his book The Politics of Communication.

"Another function fulfilled by the use of slogans is creating attention, creating interest, or raising consciousness about an issue or group. The attention of sympathizers must first be gained before there can be any effective action. Once attention has been gained, interest must be sustained. This may be accomplished by the use of creatively developed slogans. Claus Mueller has noted,

'Articulated dissent presupposes that political symbols(terms, concepts, and ideological interpretations) be attached to subjectively experienced conditions that do not correspond to expectations or needs. Political consciousness is perforce bound to symbolic interpretation of sociopolitical experience... as long as no political interpretations were attached to deplorable conditions, these conditions remained inert, posing no threat to the status quo'.

The Right to Life Slogan 'Abortion Today Justifies Euthanasia Tomorrow' attempts to create an awareness of the potential abuse in the future. Clearly this slogan may gain the attention and arouse the interest of those concerned about the implications of abortion and euthanasia..."

I suppose that I’m having the most trouble with understanding how articulated dissent is dependent on the notion that political symbols attached to experience can somehow NOT correspond to needs or expectations because doesn’t dissent itself stems from an expectation that is not met. His subsequent assertion that political consciousness is bound to symbolic interpretation is understandable enough I suppose.

But then he goes on to say that “as long as no political interpretations were attached to deplorable conditions, these conditions remained inert, posing no threat to the status quo” which is a little confusing to me unless I understand it as an a deliberate effort by a powerful controlling class, or even entirely happenstance occurrence with no deliberate effort by anyone, where deplorable conditions, say strict voter IDs in districts with high democrat populations, were not perceived as having any political involvement by those whom the laws represses. Thus the status quo goes on because dissent only occurs when politics are perceived to have some involvement in some deplorable condition and therefore something can be done about it.

Again, my only difficulty is understanding this statement: “'Articulated dissent presupposes that political symbols(terms, concepts, and ideological interpretations) be attached to subjectively experienced conditions that do not correspond to expectations or needs.”

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I think what the quote is trying to say is this.

Imagine two people arguing about the moral status of vegetarianism and then someone else comes along who denies that vegetarianism is a moral issue in the first place.

The rather obvious point that I believe Denton is trying to make here is that for people to become politically motivated about something they must perceive it to be a politically charged situation in the first place.

Sound about right?

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