Tuesday, August 24, 2004

More social science...

Whilst looking into information on relevance for my PhD I came upon another social science gem. Not swearing this time. Nor on the practice of drinking in pubs.

Eric Miller's paper for the U-Penn course "Ways of Speaking" provides interesting reading today. Whilst conversation in percieved as a turn by turn game, (the word coming from the Latin to "turn towards") in reality, it's much more of a fluid affair. The dangers of misunderstanding cultural differences in communication style can lead to conflict:

"Deborah Tannen has shown that there is much overlapping and simultaneous talk among certain Jewish groups; Roger Abrahams has shown the same among certain African and African-American groups. Indeed, in some of these cultures, individuals perceive the failure to overlap as lack of interest, or dullness."

Demanding undivided attention, when one is not being invited to do so, can also lead to problems:

"[T]he speaker may be the consumer, not the producer, of the valued commodity... To take up time speaking in a small group is to exercise power over the other members for at least the duration of the time taken, regardless of the content....[O]ne conversational participant may attempt to monopolize resources. Participants who feel slighted may react by withdrawing, resisting, and/or rebelling, for example, by being ironic. Violations of reciprocity are sources of dissatisfaction within groups, and are a major cause of group disintegration."

There you have it... Hope I haven't monopolised your time too much - overlapping comments welcome!


Anonymous said...

Only if you've quite finished speaking.

Anonymous said...

:-) NC

Auntie Em said...

After you - I must insist :)

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