Revisioning Strategic Communication Through Rhetoric and Discourse Analysis

Published In: Joint Force Quarterly, v. 76, no. 1, Jan. 2015, p. 52-57

Posted on on February 18, 2015

by William Marcellino

Read More

Access further information on this document at

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

Strategic communication can be made more conceptually robust and draw on a more powerful and useful suite of tools and methods by borrowing from two language-focused disciplines: rhetoric and discourse analysis. Rhetoric offers an explanatory framework for how and why communication fails or succeeds, as well as practical domain knowledge for how to design and effect sound communication strategies, while discourse analysis is a set of approaches and methods to analyzing real-world language use (discourse). Rhetoric, a humanities discipline centered on argumentation and persuasion, has had practical value and been effective since Aristotle's time, but it also has an empirical wing developed over the last 60 years. Discourse analysis is a relatively recent offshoot from sociolinguistics, which brings systematic, empirical analysis to language at the micro level and features a wide range of qualitative and quantitative methods.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.