Identification is a key term in contemporary rhetorical theory that describes the fundamental
process of using symbols to overcome inherent divisions among human beings. It is important in understanding the increasing complexity of the process of social influence as nonlinear, sometimes unintentional, and potentially nonverbal. This entry will examine the transition from the old rhetoric to the new rhetoric, the concepts of identification and consubstantiality, and the three strategies of identification.

theory or old rhetoric prior to the 20th century was persuasion, a concept that stressed the deliberate design of messages by rhetors as they attempted to convince audiences. Among the old rhetorics is Aristotle’s definition of the available means of persuasion, as well as the medieval emphasis on the credibility of religious texts, the epistemology of the 18th century, and the elocution movement of the early 19th century. The common denominator among the old rhetorics was the emphasis on deliberate design of influence

Identification, according to Kenneth Burke, its primary contributor, is a term that is associated with contemporary rhetoric because it acknowledges the complexity of interactions that may not have a single, identifiable rhetor directing a message to a specific, known audience. For contemporary theorists, identification allows for unconscious or unplanned meaning to influence many people in multiple ways. Unlike traditional rhetoric, this removes the deliberative intention and planning from the equation. So, if the interests of A are joined to those of B, they have identified with each other even though A and B are not identical. To the extent that A and B identify with each other, they have become consubstantial. For Burke, consubstantiality is a way of acting together, of sharing sensations, ideas, attitudes, and
approaches to life. It allows human beings to overcome, although temporarily, their inherent biological division and the separation created by social hierarchies. And it is through consubstantiality that identification is achieved.
Littlejohn, Stephen W and Karen A.Floss. (2009). Encyclopedia of Communication Theory.USA:SAGE.178-179

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Edwina Ayu Kustiawan