From Active Voices: Composing a Rhetoric for Social Movements by Sharon McKenzie Stevens. Chapter 2, “Vernacular Rhetoric and Social Movements: Performances of Resistance in the Rhetoric of the Everyday”, by Gerard A Hauser and Erin Daina McClellan (emphasis mine):
In the communication tradition of rhetoric, studies of social movements mostly have focused on the discourse of leaders, on single events, or on movement strategies. Although leader rhetoric is signiﬁcant in shaping a movement and explaining its causes and objectives to an observing public, it provides a speciﬁc interpretation of what caused the movement, what it means to those involved, and what it aspires to achieve. As Touraine (1983) has shown, when the movement’s rank-and-ﬁle is invited to explain it, they often give different accounts once the leader leaves the room. Ignoring rank-and-ﬁle voices in the rhetorical criticism of social movements is problematic. It leads to a skewed picture of the public sphere by deﬁning it in terms of privileged voices. Even in social movements, leaders have greater access to the podium, press,and public attention than those whose resistance is expressed in rhetorical exchanges of the everyday. Second, it misses resistance found in seemingly mundane expressions, such as modes of politeness that, to the knowing eye of the oppressed, convey an ironic critique of domination but, to the blind eye of the censor, evade detection. Third, they ignore Bakhtinian-like dialogizing exchanges between the dominant and dominated within and across classes. Fourth, a focus on leader statements interprets bodily displays of opposition through the ﬁlter of a movement’s formal rhetoric rather than regarding them as rhetorical performances in their own right. FinallyL ignoring rank-and-ﬁle voices deﬂects attention from the hidden transcripts of resistance developed in hush harbors and the underground that later puncture the patina of the ofﬁcial realm as public expressions of discontent. Here we wish to clarify that our point is not to dismiss leader-focused studies of movements, but rather to indicate the need for greater attention to the vernacular rhetoric that occurs among social actors who are part of a movement.