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Stasis Theory

Summary:

This resource provides an overview of stasis theory and what you can do with it to help you conduct research, compose documents, and work in teams.

Contributors:Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2013-03-01 10:22:27

Introduction

Stasis theory is a four-question, pre-writing (invention) process developed in ancient Greece by Aristotle and Hermagoras. Later, the stases were refined by Roman rhetoricians, such as Cicero, Quintilian, and Hermogenes. Working through the four stasis questions encourages knowledge building that is important for research, writing, and for working in teams. Stasis theory helps writers conduct critical analyses of the issues they are investigating.

Specifically, stasis theory asks writers to investigate and try to determine:

The four basic stasis categories may be broken down into a number of questions and subcategories to help researchers, writers, and people working together in teams to build information and compose communication. The stases also help people to agree on conclusions, and they help identify where people do not agree. Here are the stases and some questions you can ask to help you conduct research, write, and work toward solving problems:

Fact

It may also be useful to ask critical questions of your own research and conclusions:

Definition

It may also be useful to ask critical questions of your own research and conclusions:

Quality

It may also be useful to ask critical questions of your own research and conclusions:

Policy

It may also be useful to ask critical questions of your own research and conclusions:

Note: Related to stasis theory are the six journalistic questions (1) Who? (2) What? (3) Where? (4) When? (5) Why? (6) How? Lawyers also move through a similar knowledge building process known as IRAC: (1) Issue; (2) Rules; (3) Application; (4) Conclusion.

Achieving Stasis

Achieving stasis means that parties involved in a dialogue about a given issue have reached consensus on (or agreed upon) the information and conclusions in one or more of the stases. In ancient Rome, if legal disputants could not agree with the presented information in one of the stases, the argument would stop (arrest) and plaintiffs would attempt to agree (achieve stasis or find common ground) within the disputed information. For an example of how team members can work toward stasis, refer to the Stasis Theory for Teamwork page.

It is also important to achieve stasis with the issue you are investigating. Put another way, if you are trying to solve the parking problem on your campus, it will not do anyone any good to suggest that students stop smoking. The solution has nothing to do with (does not achieve stasis with) the issue at hand.

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