Where do debates go when they die?

That is actually a kinda serious question. I'm wondering if anyone knows of a theorist or historian who has discussed the problem of analysing the efficacy of a public debate -- whether practically for a given instance, or theoretically. It seems to me unlikely that academics, who vest so much time and so many words participating in such debates, haven't considered the actual functional utility of their words, but damned if I can find anything in the library catalogue.

Probably this is because the area transgresses various disciplines, including, I guess, media studies, democratic theory, social theory, politics, history, philosophy, etc. I picked up some Habermas to browse through tonight, but that seems only tangentially related.

Historians who have scrutinised popular debates, especially concerning national identity (of any nation), within a rigourous framework would be just as good. No, wait, even better.

Go on, show off your erudition in the comments.

Joseph | 22 Dec 2003

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