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Common Cause

Updated Jul 9, 2023

The Rhetorical Device of Common Cause: Uniting Audiences for Persuasion


In the realm of rhetoric, the effective use of rhetorical devices can greatly enhance the power of communication. One such device is the rhetorical device of common cause. This technique is employed to establish a shared understanding or connection with the audience, fostering a sense of unity and solidarity. By exploring real-life examples, this article aims to shed light on how common cause can be an influential tool in persuasive communication.

Understanding the Rhetorical Device of Common Cause

The rhetorical device of common cause is based on the principle that people are more likely to be persuaded by someone they perceive as sharing similar beliefs, values, or goals. It seeks to establish a common ground or shared purpose between the speaker or writer and the audience. By emphasizing this commonality, the speaker can build rapport, increase credibility, and ultimately, persuade the audience more effectively.

Examples of Common Cause in Action

1. Political Speeches

Political speeches often employ the rhetorical device of common cause to rally support and persuade audiences. A prime example is Martin Luther King Jr.'s iconic "I Have a Dream" speech. King masterfully used common cause to unite his audience by emphasizing their shared desire for equality and freedom. By repeatedly using phrases like "we cannot walk alone" and "now is the time to make justice a reality for all," King emphasized the common purpose of his audience and himself, thereby inspiring them to take action.

2. Advertising Campaigns

In the world of marketing, advertisers frequently utilize common cause to appeal to consumers. One notable example is Nike's "Just Do It" campaign. The slogan itself implies a shared belief in the power of determination and overcoming obstacles. By featuring renowned athletes and individuals from diverse backgrounds, Nike successfully establishes a common cause with their audience, inspiring them to push their limits and pursue their goals.

3. Environmental Advocacy

The fight against climate change often employs the rhetorical device of common cause to rally people behind the cause. For instance, former US Vice President Al Gore's documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" effectively utilizes common cause. Gore connects with the audience by highlighting the shared responsibility for protecting the planet and ensuring a sustainable future. By presenting scientific evidence and personal anecdotes, Gore successfully convinces viewers to join the cause and take action against climate change.


The rhetorical device of common cause is a powerful tool in persuasive communication. By establishing a shared understanding or connection with the audience, speakers and writers can effectively unite and motivate their listeners. Whether in political speeches, marketing campaigns, or environmental advocacy, the examples provided demonstrate the impact of common cause in inspiring action and creating change. By recognizing and utilizing the potential of this rhetorical device, communicators can become more effective in their persuasive efforts.

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