Leaders’ Response to Terrorism: The Role of Epideictic Rhetoric in Deliberative Democracies


New initiatives in deliberative democracy theory allow for a broader understanding of the different rhetorical practices that influence deliberation in real life settings. This solves the “problem” rhetoricians have long had with deliberative theory: that political communication is reduced to rational deliberation, disregarding a lot of non-deliberative forms of communication that are essential for the formation of public opinion and political decisions. This article elaborates on the role of epideictic rhetoric and provides an example as to how we might benefit from combining the two theoretical traditions. Often reduced to ceremonial practice, the epideictic genre has long been overlooked in political communication research. However, epideictic rhetoric plays a crucial role in shaping collective identity and values, thereby influencing citizens’ and politicians’ inclinations and scope of action in future deliberation. The article is concluded by a case study of the Norwegian Prime Minster Jens Stoltenberg’s address to the nation after the terrorist attack in Oslo on July 22nd 2011. By enforcing collective values such as democracy, solidarity, and openness towards other cultures the Prime Minister’s speech contributed to what became one of the dominant frames through which the attack and related issues were interpreted and debated.


Epideictic, Rhetoric, Deliberation, Deliberative theory

How to Cite

Vatnoey E., (2015) “Leaders’ Response to Terrorism: The Role of Epideictic Rhetoric in Deliberative Democracies”, Journal of Public Deliberation 11(2). doi: https://doi.org/10.16997/jdd.235







Eirik Vatnoey (Department of Information Science and Media Studies, University of Bergen)



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This article has been peer reviewed.

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