Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton August 4, 2018

Getting service at the constituency office: Analyzing citizens’ encounters with their Member of Parliament

Emily Hofstetter and Elizabeth Stokoe
From the journal Text & Talk

Abstract

In this paper, we present an analysis of how constituents procure services at the constituency office of a Member of Parliament (MP) in the United Kingdom. This paper will investigate how several previously documented interactional practices (e.g. entitlement) combine at the constituency office in a way that secures service. From a corpus of 12.5 hours of interaction, and using conversation analysis, we examine constituents’ telephone calls and meetings with constituency office staff and the MP, identifying practices constituents use. First, constituents opened encounters with bids to tell narratives. Second, constituents presented lengthy and detailed descriptions of their difficulties. These descriptions gave space to manage issues of legitimacy and entitlement, while simultaneously recruiting assistance. Third, we examine ways in which constituents display uncertainty about how the institution of the constituency office functions, and what services are available. The paper offers original insights into how constituency services are provided, and how constituency offices give access and support to ordinary citizens, while expanding the conversation analytic literature on institutional service provision.

Appendix: Jefferson transcription key

t[alkSquare brackets indicate start and end of overlapping speech.
[Yeah,
↑↓Marked pitch movement, beyond normal rhythms of speech.
UnderliningIndicates emphasis; more underlining is more emphasis.
CAPITALSIndicates louder volume than surrounding speech.
°I know°Indicates quieter speech.
#I know#Indicates creaky voice.
(0.4)Numbers in round brackets measure pauses in seconds.
(.)A micropause, hearable but too short to measure.
((stoccato))Additional comments from the transcriber.
wa::ntedElongation of prior sound; more colons shows more elongation.
hhhOut breath, proportionally as for colons.
.hhhIn breath proportionally as for colons.
Yeh,Comma: weak rising intonation, as when delivering a list.
yeah?Question mark: strong rise in intonation, irrespective of grammar.
Yeah.Full stop: marks falling, stopping intonation irrespective of grammar.
bu- u-Cut-off of the preceding sound.
>he said<Faster than surrounding talk.
<he said>Reverse indicates slower than surrounding talk.
solid.=Indicates “latching” of successive talk, no silence between talk.
=We had
sto(h)pShows laughter particles.

References

Baker, Carolyn, Michael Emmison & Alan Firth. 2001. Discovering order in opening sequences: Calls to a software helpline. In A.W. McHoul & M. Rapley (eds.), How to analyse talk in institutional settings: A casebook of methods, 41–56. London: Continuum International. Search in Google Scholar

Butler, Patrick & Neil Collins. 2001. Payment on delivery: Recognising constituency service as political marketing. European Journal of Marketing 35(9/10). 1026–1037.10.1108/EUM0000000005956 Search in Google Scholar

Curl, Traci & Paul Drew. 2008. Contingency and action: A comparison of two forms of requesting. Research on Language and Social Interaction 41(2). 129–153.10.1080/08351810802028613 Search in Google Scholar

Drew, Paul & Elizabeth Couper-Kuhlen. 2014. Requesting – From speech act to recruitment. In Paul Drew & Elizabeth Couper-Kuhlen (eds.), Requesting in social interaction, 1–34. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Search in Google Scholar

Drew, Paul. 1984. Speakers’ reportings in invitation sequences. In J.M. Atkinson & J. Heritage (eds.), Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis, 129–151. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Search in Google Scholar

Edwards, Derek & Elizabeth Stokoe. 2007. Self-help in calls for help with problem neighbors. Research on Language and Social Interaction 40(1). 9–32.10.1080/08351810701331208 Search in Google Scholar

Gay, Oonagh. 2005. MPs go back to their constituencies. The Political Quarterly 76(1). 57–66.10.1111/j.1467-923X.2005.00656.x Search in Google Scholar

Gill, Virginia T., Anita Pomerantz & Paul Denvir. 2001. Pre-emptive resistance: Patients’ participation in diagnostic sense-making activities. Sociology of Health & Illness 32(1). 1–20. Search in Google Scholar

Halkowski, Timothy. 2006. Realizing the illness: Patients’ narratives of symptom discovery. In John Heritage & Douglas Maynard (eds.), Communication in Medical Care: Interaction between Primary Care Physicians and Patients, 86–114. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Search in Google Scholar

Heitshusen, Valerie, Garry Young & David M. Wood. 2005. Electoral context and MP constituency focus in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. American Journal of Political Science 49(1). 32–45.10.1111/j.0092-5853.2005.00108.x Search in Google Scholar

Heritage, John & Steven Clayman. 2010. Talk in action: Interactions, identities, and institutions. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. Search in Google Scholar

Heritage, John & Douglas Maynard (eds.). 2006. Communication in medical care: Interaction between primary care physicians and patients. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Search in Google Scholar

Heritage, John & Jeffrey Robinson. 2006. Accounting for the visit: Giving reasons for seeking medical care. In John Heritage & Douglas W. Maynard (eds.), Communication in medical care: Interaction between primary care physicians and patients, 48–85. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Search in Google Scholar

Hofstetter, Emily. 2016. Citizens getting help: Interactions at the constituency office. Doctoral dissertation. Loughborough: Loughborough University. Search in Google Scholar

Hofstetter, Emily & Elizabeth Stokoe. 2015. Offers of assistance in politician-constituent interaction. Discourse Studies 17(6). 724–751.10.1177/1461445615602376 Search in Google Scholar

House of Commons. 2013. You and Your MP: Brief guide. London: Author. Retrieved from: http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-information-office/Brief-Guides/You-and-Your-MP.pdf (accessed 20 October 2013). Search in Google Scholar

House of Commons Modernisation Committee. 2007. Revitalising the chamber: The role of the back bench Member. First Report of Session 2006–07, 13 June. London: House of Commons. Search in Google Scholar

Jefferson, Gail. 2004. Glossary of transcript symbols with an introduction. In Gene H. Lerner (ed.), Conversation Analysis: Studies from the first generation, 13–23. Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Search in Google Scholar

Kendrick, Kobin H. & Paul Drew. 2016. Recruitment: Offers, requests, and the organization of assistance in interaction. Research on Language and Social Interaction 49(1). 1–19.10.1080/08351813.2016.1126436 Search in Google Scholar

Korris, Matt. 2011. A year in the life: From member of public to Member of Parliament. London: Hansard Society. Search in Google Scholar

Le Lidec, Patrick. 2009. French deputies, their assistants and the uses of staff appropriations: A sociology of political work. Sociologie du travail 518. e117–e135. Search in Google Scholar

Lee, Seung-Hee. 2009. Extended requesting: Interaction and collaboration in the production and specification of requests. Journal of Pragmatics 41(6). 1248–1271.10.1016/j.pragma.2008.09.013 Search in Google Scholar

Loat, Alison & Michael MacMillan. 2014. Tragedy in the Commons: Former Members of Parliament speak out about Canada’s failing democracy. Toronto: Random House Canada. Search in Google Scholar

Pomerantz, Anita. 1984. Agreeing and disagreeing with assessments: Some features of preferred/dispreferred turn shapes. In J. Maxwell Atkinson & John Heritage (eds.), Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis, 57–101. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Search in Google Scholar

Pomerantz, Anita. 1986. Extreme case formulations: A way of legitimizing claims. Human Studies 9(2-3). 219–229.10.1007/BF00148128 Search in Google Scholar

Potter, Jonathan and Alexa Hepburn. 2003. “I’m a bit concerned”—Early actions and psychological constructions in a child protection helpline. Research on Language and Social Interaction 36. 197–240.10.1207/S15327973RLSI3603_01 Search in Google Scholar

Rawlings, Richard. 1990a. The MP’s complaints service. The Modern Law Review 53(1). 22–42.10.1111/j.1468-2230.1990.tb01789.x Search in Google Scholar

Rawlings, Richard. 1990b. The MP’s complaints service. The Modern Law Review 53(2). 149–169.10.1111/j.1468-2230.1990.tb01801.x Search in Google Scholar

Raymond, Geoffrey. 2003. Grammar and social organization: Yes/no type interrogatives and the structure of responding. American Sociological Review 68. 939–967.10.2307/1519752 Search in Google Scholar

Schegloff, Emanuel A. & Gene H. Lerner. 2009. Beginning to respond: Well-prefaced responses to Wh-questions. Research on Language and Social Interaction 42(2). 91–115.10.1080/08351810902864511 Search in Google Scholar

Sidnell, Jack. 2013. Basic Conversation Analytic Methods. In Jack Sidnell & Tanya Stivers (eds.), The handbook of conversation analysis, 77–99. United Kingdom: Wiley-Blackwell. Search in Google Scholar

Siefken, Sven T. 2014. The case against (or for?) casework: German MPs’ service responsiveness in their district work with citizens. Presented at the ECPR General Conference. Glasgow, September 3–6 2014. Search in Google Scholar

Sikveland, Rein, Elizabeth Stokoe & Jon Symonds. 2016. Patient burden during appointment-making phone calls to GP practices. Patient Education and Counseling 99(8). 1310–1318.10.1016/j.pec.2016.03.025 Search in Google Scholar

Sterie, Anca. 2015. Recalling the doctor to action: Two requesting formats employed by a nurse for making relevant the doctor’s intervention. Novitas-ROYAL (Research on Youth and Language) 9(2). 118–137. Search in Google Scholar

Stivers, Tanya. 2006. Treatment decisions: Negotiations between doctors and patients in acute care encounters. In John Heritage & Douglas Maynard (eds.), Communication in Medical Care: Interaction between Primary Care Physicians and Patients, 279–312. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Search in Google Scholar

Stivers, Tanya. 2011. Socializing children into the patient role. In Alessandro Duranti, Elinor Ochs & Bambi Schieffelin (eds.), Handbook of Language Socialization, 247–267. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell. Search in Google Scholar

Stivers, Tanya & John Heritage. 2001. Breaking the sequential mold: Answering ‘more than the question’ during comprehensive history taking. Text 21(1/2). 151–185. Search in Google Scholar

Stokoe, Elizabeth. 2013. Overcoming barriers to mediation in intake calls to services: Research-based strategies for mediators. Negotiation Journal 29(3). 289–314.10.1111/nejo.12026 Search in Google Scholar

Stokoe, Elizabeth & Alexa Hepburn. 2005. ‘You can hear a lot through the walls’: Noise formulations in neighbour complaints. Discourse & Society 16(5). 647–673.10.1177/0957926505054940 Search in Google Scholar

Vivyan, Nick & Markus Wagner. 2015. What do voters want from their local MP?. The Political Quarterly 86(1). 33–40.10.1111/1467-923X.12128 Search in Google Scholar

Whalen, Marilyn & Don Zimmerman. 1990. Describing trouble: Practical epistemology in citizen calls to the police. Language in Society 19. 465–492.10.1017/S0047404500014779 Search in Google Scholar

Zimmerman, Don H. 1992. The interactional organization of calls for emergency assistance. In Paul Drew & John Heritage (eds.), Talk at work: Interaction in institutional settings, 418–469. New York: Cambridge University Press. Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2018-08-04
Published in Print: 2018-08-28

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston