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Text & Talk

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse & Communication Studies

Ed. by Sarangi, Srikant

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Volume 29, Issue 4


Fixing meaning: on the semiotic and interactional role of written texts in a risk analysis meeting

Anna-Malin Karlsson
Published Online: 2009-07-14 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/TEXT.2009.022


This article aims to contribute to the study of professional discourse by focusing on the role of written texts in complex communication processes. It also aims to contribute to the field of social semiotics by problematizing the concept of grammatical metaphor, framing it multimodally and interactionally. The case in focus is a risk analysis meeting which is characterized by explicit definitions of goals and methods: the objective of risk analysis is to identify and evaluate potential risks that might threaten a project. However, the activity also has other goals, such as finding common ground and developing a joint perspective in the project group. Managing these divergent agendas is possible given the technique developed and the tools used: small pieces of paper, pens, a whiteboard, whiteboard markers, and oral conversation. In the choice of resources for different purposes, materiality is crucial. Because of the affordances of the small notes and the thick ink marker, the individual risks are thingified at an early stage, while oral conversation is used for problematization and negotiation. In the minutes, the construal of risks as things is preserved and contributes to the reification and thus technification of similar meanings in the social practice of the organization.

Keywords:: risk analysis; activity type; reification; text; social semiotics; grammatical metaphor

About the article

School of Communication, Media and IT, Södertörn University, SE-141 89 Huddinge, Sweden 〈

Published Online: 2009-07-14

Published in Print: 2009-07-01

Citation Information: Text & Talk - An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse & Communication Studies, Volume 29, Issue 4, Pages 415–438, ISSN (Online) 1860-7349, ISSN (Print) 1860-7330, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/TEXT.2009.022.

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