Edited By Norman Fairclough, Guiseppina Cortese and Patrizia Ardizzone
Section 3Language, Social Cognition and Ideology
Section 3 Language, Social Cognition and Ideology TEUN A. VAN DIJK Comments on Context and Conversation 1. Introduction: The debate about context One of the prominent debates in contemporary discourse and conversation analysis (CA) is about whether and how to take into account elements of the social ‘context’ in the analysis of talk (Schegloff 1998, 1999, 2003; Wetherell 1998; Billig 1999a, 1999b). Although in the last decade the number of studies relating conversation with, for instance, the institutional context has increased significantly (see, e.g., Boden 1994, Drew/Heritage 1992), main- stream CA has always been very reluctant to go beyond the structures and strategies of talk itself. If at all, aspects of context in CA are analytically dealt with only if they are procedurally relevant, that is, if they are demonstrably oriented to by the participants themselves (Schegloff 1991, 1992, 2003). There are many good reasons for the reluctance in CA to deal with context. First of all, it has always been a main tenet of CA to focus on the autonomous principles of interaction itself. Secondly, bringing in contextual explanations for some properties of conver- sation might open a Pandora box of unanalyzed social categories, such as those of gender, class or power among many others. In a CA perspective, if these categories are relevant at all, such relevance should not be assumed a priori, but actually demonstrated by the way they become locally enacted and demonstrably produced in talk. This is one of the ways CA and ethnomethodology have...
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