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Munazara and Argumentation Ethics Research Center

Young people’s COVID-19 narratives from an argumentative perspective

The understanding accumulated in centuries concerning the analysis and appraisal of argumentation today constitutes a robust framework with a variety of approaches. Most of these approaches are normative, that is, they are equipped with templates and ideal models of inference and interaction. However, everyday discourse and communication does not follow the established (i.e., inductive, rational) argumentative structures and syllogisms. Rather, public discourse consists largely in stories, experiences, and gossip – e.g., narratives, public, ‘naqlī’ knowledge. Therefore, any argument perspective with relevance to society should address the link between rational faculties and the collective reservoir of ideas replete with meaning, memories, and stories.

This linkage is particularly important for ArguMunazara. While most approaches to argumentation focus prımarıly on externalized commitments, inferential steps, types of inference, and argument delivery, ArguMunazara adopts an ethical approach to argument, taking into account the product, the process and the agent of argumentation in a multiplex manner. This means to extend the analytical focus from people’s utterances to their stories.

Causing widespread uncertainty and despair, the COVID-19 pandemic has personal, social and institutional implications. Its unexpected emergence and continuing impact still loom over the public space. COVID-19 has both multiplied the uncertainties and risks in our daily lives, and reminded the finite human individual of his/her vulnerability. To make sense of the risks, citizens normally rely on scientific understanding that originates in respected health institutions, mediated by numerous sources. In the unavailability of demonstrative scientific knowledge to steer sense-making and coping mechanisms, narratives provide a safe haven, albeit sometimes a conspiratorial one.

Although much has been studied and written on COVID, there is a gap in the literature on the narrative and argument generating aspect of COVID-19 in the general public. More importantly, in the literature despite there are various attempts to capture the COVID reality, a focus addressing the impacts of and responses to COVID-19 with qualitative research methodologies of narrative and argumentation perspectives is missing. This preliminary study coining narrative and argumentation analysis aims to fill the gap by both conducting original empirical research, and preparing a further, large-scale, longitudinal project.

(June 2021 – May 2022) 

Project team: Merve Aktar ([email protected]) Mehmet Ali Üzelgün; Onder Küçükural; Rahmi Oruç