Context and talk in confrontational discourses

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This paper presents a study of the way in which context and language in an institutional setting are mutually affected in the development of confrontational interaction. We hypothesise that when the canonical institutional context in terms of tenor and mode is altered, the encounter may depart from its prototypical form and even become unsustainable in the environment in which it is taking place. Our analysis identifies the factors that are responsible for disruptions in the flow of discourse and the different consequences that these may bring about in two media interviews. It shows that the smooth development of this type of discourse depends on three factors: (a) how well the participants comply with the roles dictated by the institution, (b) how they exercise power in relation to their roles, and (c) whether they observe the expected interactional behavior and content in a discourse of this kind.


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