THE BATTLE OF IDEOLOGIES: A STRUGGLE FOR OWNERSHIP IN THE DEAF COMMUNITY

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1992

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This dissertation examines the rhetorical process of the Deaf social movement as it evolved from the beginnings of community conception in America to the early 1990s. Specifically, this study employs a Foucaultian approach to address how rhetoric shapes the empowerment of the cultural identity of the Deaf social movement. Such a study contributes not only to our understanding of social movements, but also how members of a movement empower themselves through language. Although rhetorical analyses traditionally place communication as the means, the study of the Deaf social movement further contributes to our understanding of the phenomenon of communication because for the Deaf community, communication is the central issue of their struggles with the dominant society. The rhetorical strategies of the Deaf social movement suggest a theory for community building, especially within a multicultural vision of society, which require three necessary attributes: creating a sense of self-worth, strengthening the internal foundation of community building, and accessing the public sphere.

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