Episodes in talk: Constructing coherence in multiparty conversation
1998 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
This study contributes to an understanding of how coherence can be assigned or constructed by participants in authentic multiparty conversational interaction. Coherence is analysed as a type of organisation relevant for the making of meaning in situated interaction, but also in retrospect from a third party's (or analyst's) perspective; it is both constructed and reconstructed. Important questions are: what makes multiparty talk hold together, what do a number of participants in conversation (have to) do in order to sustain coherence, and in what senses can multiparty conversations be argued to be coherent?
A notion of episode is (re)introduced as a unit of natural social interaction, manifest at a structurally intermediate, or a global, level of conversation. The use of episode implies that coherence, a pragmatic phenomenon, steadily encompasses text, i.e. talk, context(s) and actions, and sense-making practices invoking contexts during the progression of interaction. This reflects the reciprocal relations between language, social interaction, and cognition. Also, a coding method of coherence has been developed, Topical Episode Analysis (abbreviated as TEA). The thesis explores the concept of episode and its place among units of interaction, and describes the episode structure and coherence-making in some specific activity types.
The empirical material used, 24 multiparty conversations making up a total of 1500 episodes, consists of dinner conversations among peers, multi-generational family gatherings (involving aphasics), radio talk shows, and conversations recorded at a centre aimed for elderly people (with symptoms of dementia). In all conversations, conversing is a main activity.
Both qualitative and quantitative analyses have been carried out. Results include the following points: (i) coherence in multiparty conversation can be regarded as a co-construction; (ii) coherence is accomplished through the invoking of contexts (context, situation, and background knowledge), implying that coherence is an attribute of activities in context and not only 'text'; (iii) coherence-making is the unmarked case in authentic conversation and incoherence or non-coherence appear to be theoretical constructs; (iv) coherence patterns are activity specific; (v) coherence is multilayered, consisting of one local and several global levels; (vi) coherence is constructed through a division of communicative labour, suggesting that also people with communicative impairments contribute to coherence-making.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 1998. , 138 p.
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 171
Coherence, episode, context, multiparty conversation, activity type, communicative impairments, radio talk, dinner conversation
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-10517ISBN: 91-7219-161-9OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-10517DiVA: diva2:17258
1998-02-27, Elysion, Hus T, Campus Valla, Linköpings Universitet, Linköping, 13:15 (English)
Linell, PerBergqvist, Kerstin
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