Rhetor, Audience, and the Importance of Perspective: A Rhetorical Analysis of the Virtual Consultation in Cosmetology
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This thesis presents a rhetorical analysis of the virtual consultation in cosmetology to better understand the role of perspective and audience in rhetorical situations. I examine the communication work of Katie West, a stylist who regularly conducts virtual consultations on Instagram. I supplement my analysis of West’s professional Instagram profile with a Facebook Live interview where she discusses her performance of virtual consultations with salon professional, Michael Cole. I use invitational rhetoric to guide my analysis, considering how West offers her perspectives, how she solicits the perspectives of her audience, and how she creates conditions of safety, value, and freedom to create a virtual space that seeks to fulfill the needs of all parties. The results demonstrate the importance of both verbal and nonverbal communication strategies to establish the rhetor’s perspective and solicit the audience’s perspective, e.g., presenting options verbally, textually, and visually; incorporating features for dialogue and image sharing; and creating conditions of safety, value, and freedom to encourage audience participation. Because this study focused on the rhetor’s strategies to facilitate perspective sharing, future research should examine the audience’s response to these strategies and whether they believe their perspectives contribute to the rhetorical situation. Nonetheless, this analysis offers practical implications to inform consultations in virtual spaces by demonstrating that audience is not merely a constituent of the rhetorical situation that the rhetor must navigate but a contributor with perspectives that inform the situation and its outcomes.