Due casi concreti di retorica progressiva nella comunicazione pro-life

Translated title of the contribution: [Autom. eng. transl.] Two concrete cases of progressive rhetoric in pro-life communication

Paolo Braga, Armando Fumagalli, 27289, DI SCIENZE LINGUISTICHE E LETTERATURE STRANIERE FACOLTA', MILANO - Dipartimento di Scienze della comunicazione e dello spettacolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the last decade prominent linguistics and communication consultants such as George Lakoff and Frank Luntz – even if in different measure and not always directly – have argued in favor of progressive rhetoric as the most powerful and effective approach to develop public opinion campaigns. In this perspective, a speaker should be mainly concentrated in explaining both to the audience and to her/his adversaries the values she/he believes in. The effort of the speaker should be ordered to highlighting how her/his proposals descend from those values and how those values are inclusive: i.e. how they could be the basis for shared solutions. A negative approach mainly oriented to criticize the opposite ideas or, worse, to attack the adversary, would instead be, in the end, self-defeating. On the contrary, the winning argumentative move should consist in the construction of a bridge of empathy and better understanding, in order to help both the adversary and the audience to embrace a new and different set of values, thus reframing the issues at stake. At the light of these reflections, the essay takes into account two communication strategies which have been successful precisely because of their clear and determined progressive rhetorical approach. The first strategy is the one applied in pro-life advertising campaigns produced since the middle of the Nineties by the U.S. non-profit organization Vitae Foundation, targeting young women facing unwanted pregnancy. The analysis shows that Vitae Foundation advertisements have been much more effective than previous pro-life campaigns both because of the profound comprehension of the psychological frame ruling pregnant women’s emotions (“the death of the familiar self”) and because of a non-conflictual reframing based on the character of an admired, trustful woman. The second strategy taken into account is the one adopted by the independent association Catholic Voices, whose mission is to train and offer to the media a pool of speakers prepared to explain the Church’s point of view on contemporary crucial ethical issues. The analysis shows how the idea of non-conflictual reframing entirely inspires Catholic Voices’ activity, from the attitude held towards the media (approached as a source of opportunities and no more as a menace) and towards pro-choice activists (to be faced after a sincere recognition of the values that motive them).
Translated title of the contribution[Autom. eng. transl.] Two concrete cases of progressive rhetoric in pro-life communication
Original languageItalian
Pages (from-to)605-629
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Catholic Voices
  • Vitae Foundation
  • abortion
  • aborto
  • comunicazione pro-life
  • framing
  • persuasion and emotions
  • persuasione e emozioni
  • pro-life communication


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