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“I would suggest you tell this ^^^ to your doctor”

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Abstract

I use computer-mediated discourse analysis (Herring, 2004) to investigate one online weight-loss discussion board thread that revolves around medical metadiscourse – an original poster’s depiction of a face-to-face interaction in which a doctor made an unwelcome comment about her weight. Extending research on “small stories” (e.g. Georgakopoulou, 2007) and narrative problem-solving (Ochs, Smith and Taylor, 1989), I demonstrate how participants co-create a small story that works through the original poster’s dilemma – how she should interpret and react to what happened. I identify six intertextual linking strategies that accomplish this – posing information-seeking questions, paraphrasing and reframing, creating “constructed dialogue” (Tannen, 2007), using the board’s quotation function, pointing (such as through the “^” symbols in this chapter’s title), and advice-giving – while also showing how meaning-making in doctor-patient interactions extends beyond medical encounters themselves to online contexts. Further, analysis of the posts’ contents reveals what Sarangi (in press) calls a “role responsibility framework” for medical care: Participants attribute responsibility for the problematic encounter to both the doctor and patient/original poster.

References

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