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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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ARTICLE
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 343-354

Arguing Along Fault-lines: A Rhetorical Analysis of Public Divides over Wildlife Comeback


1 Institute for Science in Society, Radboud University, GL Nijmegen, The Netherlands; Nature & Society Research Group, Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO), Brussels, Belgium
2 Institute for Science in Society, Radboud University, GL Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Correspondence Address:
Ann Van Herzele
Institute for Science in Society, Radboud University, GL Nijmegen, The Netherlands; Nature & Society Research Group, Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO), Brussels

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/cs.cs_19_15

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Across Europe, several wildlife species are making surprising comebacks. The returnees help create conservation success stories, but at the same time are subject of commotion and conflict in many countries. This article examines public discussions surrounding the returns of the red fox and the wild boar to Flanders (northern Belgium) in various media and forums, ranging from news and social media to the Flemish Parliament. The aim of the research is to provide insights into the role of rhetoric in the continuation and exacerbation of public divides. The classical theory of stasis is used as a systematic method for locating the points of disagreement within a debate and understanding the discussants' rhetorical practices at these points. The analysis reveals a constant striving for 'logic' either to reaffirm the own standpoints or to subvert those of the opponent. The article demonstrates how the discussants' efforts to provide conclusive arguments have the unplanned result of even greater tensions and distances between groups in society. In this respect, two relevant tendencies are presented that hinder opportunities for reconciling positions and novel ideas to emerge: 1) the limited elaboration and deliberation on the issues of contention; 2) the linking of these issues to socio-political relationships.


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