Jenny Edbauer – “Unframing Models of Public Distribution” Analysis
Jenny Rice’s essay “Unframing Models of Public Distribution: From Rhetorical Situation to Rhetorical Ecologies” argues for the shift in thinking from a unilateral and stagnant perspective behind the existence of commonalities, such as simplifying the popularity Starbucks to it’s initial success in Seattle, to examining more deeply the organic and living web of it’s creation and perpetuation. Rice uses the example “Keep Austin Weird”, which is a slogan used widely in the Austin and general Texas area that has been appropriated by other demographics of Austin that it was not necessarily meant for, such as corporations, in order to attract more customers. The slogan was started by Waterloo Records, a popular local record shop, as a bid against chain organizations taking over Austin. A University of Texas business student sprouted a counter culture to this movement by selling t-shirts with the slogan “Keep Austin Normal” on the back. In fact, Rice adds to this commonality, pointing out that: “The anti-weird rhetorics of Austin add to the “weird rhetoric” ecology through a practice of mixture and encounters of extended proximity” (Edbauer 19). More simply stated, the fact that there is a counter movement to keep the city “normal” only increased its relative oddity.
Rice proposes several elements to the creation and maturation of this social movement beyond the traditional, and linear, idea of growth. Instead of unidimensional progress, Rice develops the multiple facets of the slogan by discussing its appropriation by small businesses, large businesses, music festivals, radio stations, universities, and even the local and state level government; all acting as factors that contributed to the culture and meaning behind “Keep Austin Weird”. The slogan grows into an organic and constantly changing conception of the essence of Austin. According to Rice’s theory, as the city of Austin changes, so would the meaning and purpose behind “Keep Austin Weird.”
Edbauer, Jenny. “Unframing Models of Public Distribution: From Rhetorical Situation to Rhetorical Ecologies.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly Fall 2005 1-24. Web.
Image courtesy of Waterloo Records Twitter