How trend motions can give your speaks an upward trend

We all know everything about what’s trending currently, but do we know how to debate trend motions?

CAs are creative people, and they sometimes like to spice things up. They’d add words like rise, trend, popularity, or decline to a motion and demand debaters to analyse topics with a little bit more nuance.

Some debaters aren’t aware that this makes a difference. Some others are aware, but they don’t know how to tackle it well. You want to be among the ones who are aware and able to tackle this.

To start, we have to know what difference these words make in a debate round.

Suppose you have the motion This House regrets the rise of e-commerce giants.

On Government, you could run harms of e-commerce giants in their entirety. You can say they are harmful in nature, and the rise of these businesses means more of those harms happen. You’ve gotten yourself one part of the debate.

But to really hit bullseye, you want to address the rise. To not get your arguments stolen or out-framed by your opponents, you want to be very specific.

There are two key ways to do that.

  1. When you’re debating these kinds of motions, think about two different worlds on Government and Opposition. In the example above, one of them would have a ton of e-commerce giants, and one of them would have just a few e-commerce giants. What’s the difference?
  2. Once we get the hang of that, let’s look at how worlds are constructed. They’re constructed by the actors that play a part in the society. So that’s really all you have to analyse. This rise is a change of dynamics in society.

Here are common mechanisms that can be used in these types of motions. I broke them down by actor.

Society and discourse: scrutiny or negligence?

The trend of something means increased exposure toward it. This also means there are discussions about it. What do those discussions look like?

People could have nuanced discussions about a topic they previously never explored. It’s also the case that when something is popular, there will be people who show up as experts on the matter. This increases awareness and education on the matter; it builds critical mass. People may criticise and ensure that this trend goes well.

It could also be that people take it for granted. When it’s a trend, anyone can easily tap into it and follow without ensuring quality. Overgeneralisation can make misinformation happen more easily too, because people only go for the hype and not any in-depth knowledge.

Remember to characterise how people are going to interpret and spread narratives.

Companies and competition: healthy or toxic?

When there’s a trend, there’s more competition. When there’s a decline, there’s less competition. You want to analyse what that implies.

Maybe more competition brings forth better products and cheaper prices. Competition can push companies to innovate for this. Or maybe it makes companies more predatory and dishonest because surviving is difficult. Some companies’ deals can look great at first glance, but later down the line you realise that quality and safety are compromised.

On the other hand, less competition could entrench a dangerous monopoly or a benevolent one. When there’s only one company with a certain business model or industry, they’re either going to be the most evil or the greatest company in the world.

Make sure that you characterise the power and the interest of companies to create these impacts. Are they able to do this? Do they have the interest to do this?

States and regulation: under control or out of control?

States pay attention to something that’s on the rise, but is it good that it’s rising, or is it bad?

You can argue that it’s easier to regulate a widespread phenomenon because the government now cares about this and is willing to conduct research and supervision to make sure it runs well. You can also argue that a trend means a large number of people adopting a new behavior and the government won’t be able to keep up.

When running this argument, be careful about its persuasiveness. Is government regulation central in the debate or is it something that’ll stabilise in the long term anyway? Sometimes, this mechanism is only mitigatory.

Choices, and this can apply to anyone: increase of freedom or coercion?

A trend usually rises to replace a previous norm. So finding what that previous norm was is usually handy in debates like these. Now the question is, is it a good replacement? Or was it better to have that previous norm?

It can bring freedom for people to tap into the new norm, and you can argue that this group of people are the most important / most vulnerable in the debate. Normalisation is important for something that was previously not mainstream.

But it also means neglect for the people who remain in the previous norm. If you’re against the trend, you want to say it’s these people who are the most important / most vulnerable.

Essentially, analyse the importance of the actors on both sides!

What this means for you

These mechanisms, I’ve found, can actually be used in almost all trend motions. You just have to make the impacts relevant to the motion and link them to the actors that matter most.

For example, increased competition among companies results in better products for the customers. Increased education about cryptocurrencies makes people more careful when investing in them. And so on!

This is a huge advantage so you can outframe your opponents, too. If they’re not as relevant, they’re not trendy enough to beat you 😉

You can practice with the motions down below.

Related motions

  • This House regrets the decline of tightly integrated families
  • This House regrets the popularity of multimedia franchises (e.g. Star Wars, Marvel Universe, DC Universe)
  • This House regrets the trend of foreign investors purchasing football clubs
  • This House regrets the decline of the humanities in higher education
  • This House regrets the rise of choice feminism
  • This House supports the rise of “pushback culture”* *Infoslide: Pushback culture actively promotes “constant vigilance and outrage” in response to perceived microagresssions and divergences from approved opinion

Further reading

The information in this article is a compilation of several sources, which are listed below. We recommend you read them for further understanding of the topic.

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