Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Aristotle and India

To start off my analysis, I want to look at a website for a company which facilitates outsourcing, specifically to India. India is at the forefront of the debate on outsourcing, since many Indian companies have sprung up in recent years whose business is essentially pretending to be other businesses' call centers. This particular company is called Outsource2india, and they show a clear grasp of the Aristotelian principles of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos - particularly the first two.

The ethos of the website is clearly calculated, as demonstrated by the pastel, and therefore nonthreatening, color scheme chosen, the strict adherence to Western web conventions, and the flawless Standard Edited English. In addition, the article "The Benefits of Job Outsourcing to India" seems on the surface to be an objective study of the facts, adding to the ethos by suggesting that the site's goal is education and not advertisement. This site is saying, "We are friendly, factual, and comfortable." The use of the abbreviation O2I adds ethos for web designers and proponents of globalization as well, reminding that segment of the audience of the abbreviations for Internationalization (I18N) and Localization (L10N), both of which are certainly buzzwords for topoi used in any debate about global business. This visual signal tells the audience, "We know what we're talking about, and we're up on the modern jargon."

Pathos is not in short supply either. Word choice is the most obvious example, with words and phrases like, "undisturbed communication," "competitive edge," and "advantage" being very common. The benefits of outsourcing from the perspective of India are emphasized, giving the impression that a decision on the part of business owners to move call-center jobs isn't just a money saver, but also a move to help a developing economy. "With democracy, support from the government, more freedom for businesses, fewer restrictions and regulations, lesser interest rates and fewer restrictions concerning outsourcing, " the article tells us, "India has become a more ideal place for job outsourcing." This sentence does a fabulous job of communicating the logical message that doing business in this "New India" is economically beneficial for American business owners - while putting a warm, friendly overlay of pathos over the top.

Even things that seem problematic are spun to become benefits; overpopulation becomes a large and willing workforce, the remaining traces of British imperialism becomes "the English advantage," and any lingering worries about human rights are explained away with the friendly sentence, "The people in India are satisfied to work for lesser salaries and what people earn from the outsourcing industry is much higher than what they will earn elsewhere." Clearly, pathos plays a big part in the argument.

What is interesting about this use of pathos is that it is clearly intended to look like logos. The writer presents a clear argument in favor of outsourcing to India in terms that seem objective. However, the writer made a decision here: the logical argument in favor of outsourcing, which is typically expressed in strict monetary terms, is not very pleasant from an emotional standpoint, and as pointed out in The Political Brain, this makes it problematic. Therefore, rather than present the logical but emotionally offputting argument, the writer chose to focus on the ethos and pathos of the argument, using both to create the illusion of logos.

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