Narrative as deliberative argument

Donald Ellis
  • Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict, January 2014, Taylor & Francis
  • DOI: 10.1080/17467586.2014.915337

using narratives as arguments Toulman structure of argument

What is it about?

This essay argues that narratives or stories are an essential communication mechanism that define the differences between two conflicting groups, especially in asymmetric conflicts. Stories told during conflict resolution experiences are typically assumed to be subjective and emotional versions of reality, but I argue that stories function as arguments. Stories provide a foundation for reasons and are used as evidence to justify positions; this makes them fundamentally argumentative in nature. Interaction data from various Israeli–Palestinian dialogue groups are used to display turns at talk that illustrate the functioning of narratives as arguments during deliberation.

Why is it important?

Shows how argument is used in everyday interaction


Donald Ellis

Arguments and not only logical structures with major and minor premises. They are embedded in everyday interaction and various assumptions. This article shows how people in the lived cultural world of interaction actually construct arguments.

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