Practicing transcendence: Rhetorical strategies and constructing a response to paradox

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Bednarek, Rebecca ; Paroutis, S. ; Sillince, J. (2014)

This paper is about the rhetorical micro-foundations of transcendence and how those rhetoric strategies construct transcendence as a response to paradox. We provide additional insight into transcendence and address the dearth of empirical investigation into the micro- activities that constitute it. Drawing from a dataset of three qualitative cases in a science sector where participants describe a capacity to transcend contradictory strategic emphases (a performing paradox), we offer two contributions to the paradox literature. First, we elaborate on the concept of transcendence through outlining four rhetorical strategies of: Ordering; Aspiring; Signifying and Embodying. By surfacing multiple rhetorical strategies, we offer new empirical insight into the constitutive elements of transcendence. Second, we develop a framework of Situating Paradox to show how rhetorical strategies construct transcendence as a response to paradox. We highlight an array of enabling features (‘focus’, ‘time’ and ‘space’) inherent to each rhetorical strategy and show how these are balanced across the four strategies. Together these findings show the complex interactions between an array of rhetorical response strategies and the enabling features inherent to those strategies, extending insight into the micro-foundations of transcendence as a response to paradox.
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