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Healthcare interaction as an expert communicative system

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Abstract

In this paper I argue that interaction &#8211; as a communicative system &#8211; is central not only to forms of everyday social encounters but also to professional-client relationships in institutional settings. The role language plays in these interactional trajectories has to go beyond the dichotomous <i>language as system</i> and <i>language as behaviour</i> divide, and focus on the phenomenon of interaction itself, but not necessarily reducing interaction to language practice. This means that as interaction analysts we can utilise linguistic insights when interpreting professional-client encounters, but not be limited by them. Healthcare interaction, as an institutional and professional site, can be seen as an expert communicative system, with complex variations &#8211; along different modalities &#8211; reflecting different specialities and participant frameworks. I focus here on the linguistic dimension in the counselling domain, where communicative expertise is to be conceptualised in terms of hybrid interactional competencies for the management of different initiation-response frames, including aspects of uncertainty, risk, self- and other-initiated diagnostic and prognostic scenarios. Interaction analysis &#8211; what I refer to as activity analysis &#8211; should take as its starting point the structural, interactional and thematic maps of whole encounters, while aligning with the agenda of the professionals and the clients in a given setting in order to make any findings uptake-oriented in practically relevant ways.

References

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