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Text & Talk

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse & Communication Studies

Ed. by Sarangi, Srikant

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Volume 28, Issue 3


Narratives as a resource to manage disagreement: Examples from a parents' meeting in an extracurricular activity center

Susanne Kjaerbeck
Published Online: 2008-05-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/TEXT.2008.015


This article explores narratives as an interactional resource to manage disagreement. On the basis of a detailed analysis of parents' meetings with three educators, three conversational phenomena were found to be particularly relevant to manage disagreement in narratives. The first phenomenon is the participants' manner of negotiating meaning in the narrative. It is demonstrated that the teller (a professional) and not the recipient (the mother) is the one who initiates the display of understanding the told events. In this kind of informal institutional talk, it emphasizes the asymmetry of the encounter. The second phenomenon is the primary speaker's accounting for and providing evidence in an attempt to obtain mutual understanding and to establish professional accountability. However, alignment is not achieved, and therefore the teller's assessments are constructed in a dispreferred format. The third phenomenon is the recipient's responding actions, which are minimal or absent and are used as a strategy for communicating disagreement indirectly. Finally, the relationship between narrative description and sequential and institutional contexts is addressed, and narratives are considered as contextualized as well as contextualizing resources of communication.

Keywords:: narrative; interaction; disagreement; accounts; meaning; asymmetry

About the article

Department of Culture and Identity, Roskilde University, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark.

Published Online: 2008-05-27

Published in Print: 2008-05-01

Citation Information: Text & Talk, Volume 28, Issue 3, Pages 307–326, ISSN (Online) 1860-7349, ISSN (Print) 1860-7330, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/TEXT.2008.015.

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© 2008 by Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, D-10785 Berlin.Get Permission

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