This chapter is devoted to the American tradition of communication studies and rhetoric. In Sect. 8.2, the overview of the state of the art starts with a discussion of the role of argumentation in the debate tradition. Although argumentation theory is not yet part of this tradition, all kinds of concepts that were central in the early textbooks still play an important role in argumentation studies in the United States. This justifies paying attention to some of the pre-theoretical notions introduced in these textbooks.
In Sect. 8.3, the starting points for theorizing about argumentation are discussed that later on have been developed in communication studies. The literature concerned is characterized by much reflection on the issues considered to be most crucial to dealing with argumentation: What is argumentation? How does argumentation manifest itself? What is the relation of argumentation to logic, dialectic, and rhetoric? The answers to these questions serve in fact as preambles to the theorizing.
Sect. 8.4 concentrates on the first of the two branches that traditionally can be distinguished in communication studies: historical-political analysis, also known as rhetorical criticism. Sect. 8.5 provides an overview of the other branch, rhetorical theory, again with an emphasis on argumentation and rhetorical phenomena closely related to argumentation.
Sect. 8.6 discusses “argument fields” and “spheres of argumentation” – two important concepts that have been further developed after Toulmin first introduced the notion of argument fields. Sect. 8.7 concentrates on the relatively new research perspective of “normative pragmatics,” an approach that examines the norms playing a part in dealing with argumentation in actual argumentative practices. In Sect. 8.8, the role of argumentation in persuasion research is discussed. Finally, in Sect. 8.9, attention is paid to the study of argumentation in interpersonal communication.