Toth [Abstract]

Do children need religious education? Discursive construction of children in talk shows by means of rhetorical questions [Full text]

Cosmin Toth [1]

Abstract: My objective in this article is to analyze the discursive work done by rhetorical questions in attributing to the child-pupil, as the central character of the debate regarding religious education in schools, several characteristics, needs, rights and obligations in a “taken for granted” manner and thus serving certain ideological claims. Using a discourse analysis approach, I have analyzed several Romanian talk-shows centered on religious education in schools. During these shows children were discursively attributed with traits that often serve to support and promote certain ideological positions. Thus, children have been described most of the time as being vulnerable, immature, tending to abuse rights and liberties if they have the occasion, lacking judgment, but capable to learn Revelation, needing religious education as the only way to develop properly morally and spiritually. However, practicing these discourses and “portraits” in such public arenas may easily become permanent uncritical ideological labels, discursively associated with the children and their age specificities. In my view this possibility is highly increased by the use of rhetorical questions which hide these assumptions and labels behind the cover of obviousness. Moreover the discursive work done by rhetorical question for supporting various ideological claims is shown to vary according to the addresser’s target: an opposing interlocutor or the general audience.

Keywords: Rhetorical questions, discourse analysis, face work, religious education

[1] Faculty of Sociology and Social Work, University of Bucharest, Romania,