Apologia is a form of practiced rhetoric used in self-defense and as the vindication of a person, and of a course of action. The apologia is a persuasive rhetorical device common to politics and to public relations, and is an analytical term in genre criticism. An apologia entails the speaker publicly expressing remorse for wrong-doing; likewise, the function of the non-apology apology is that the speaker admits no wrong-doing.
Forgiveness and re-acceptance are the ideal results of the public apology; conflict resolution by means of an explanation meant to mend a damaged relationship. The etymology of apologia (Greek: ἀπολογία) derives from the root word apologos (ἀπόλογος), “a story”. The Greek philosophers Plato, Isocrates, and Aristotle described apologia as a genre of rhetoric, in which the orator persuasively explains and defends his actions and himself against an accusation, and earns vindication from and re-acceptance to the polity.
1. Denial: Simple denial or shifting the blame
2. Evasion of responsibility: Provocation, accident, and good intention
3. Reduction of offensiveness: Bolstering, minimization, differentiation, transcendence, attack accuser, and compensation
4. Corrective action: Offering to repair damages caused by self-action and taking steps to prevent the event from reoccurring
5. Mortification: Admitting wrongful behavior, asking for forgiveness, and apologizing
Lawrence Rosenfield’s Mass-Media Characteristics
Lawrence Rosenfield examines apologia covered by mass media. In his analysis of speeches by ex-President Harry Truman and vice presidential candidate Richard Nixon, Rosenfield described four initial characteristics of mass-mediated apologia.
1. They tend to be short and sharp clashes
2. The remarks are not solely defensive messages
3. They include an extensive amount of data in the middle of the speech
4. Previously used arguments appear to be reused and combined into one cohesive message.
In “The Evolution of the Rhetorical Gene of Apologia,” Sharon Downey argues that apologia has undergone significant changes because its function has changed throughout history. Downey takes on a critical generic approach to the feasibility of apologia. Halford Ryan advocates that kategoria and apologia need to be understood as a linked pair. Ryan proposes that a speech of apologia motivates a defensive response, which should be treated as a rhetorical speech set.
- Lazare, Aaron. On Apology. Vol. 1. Oxford: Oxford U P, 2005. Print.
- Benoit, W. L. (1995). Accounts, excuses and apologies: A theory of image restoration strategies. Albany: State University of New York Press.
- "A Case Study in Speech Criticism: The Nixon-Truman Analog." Communication Monographs 35 (1968): 435-450.
- Downey, S. D. "The Evolution of the Rhetorical Genre of Apologia." Western Journal of Communication 57 (1993): 42-64. Print.
- "Kategoria and Apologia: On Their Rhetorical Criticism as a Speech Set." Quarterly Journal of Speech 68 (1982): 254-261.