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Srikant Sarangi: Engaging with discourse data in organizational and institutional settings Discourse analysis – concerned with talk, text and other modalities – has been carried out over the past four decades, across disciplinary boundaries, embedded in quantitative and qualitative research paradigms. Within the qualitative paradigm, researchers adopt different methodological and analytical perspectives when engaging with discourse data. Beginning with what we understand by ‘discourse’ as it has implications for what we choose as data as well as our analytical toolbox, I address the issue of the positioning of discourse analysts in an insider-outsider continuum. This leads me to propose three kinds of paradoxes which are characteristic of discourse analysis in professional and institutional settings – observer’s paradox, participant’s paradox and analyst’s paradox. I then reflect on ways of minimising such paradoxes through alignment (in terms of context and content) and triangulation (of data sources, analyst-participant perspectives, mixed methods etc.) in order to achieve a balance between under- and over-interpretation of discourse data (Sarangi 2007). In arguing that a fuller contextualisation of the institutional and professional orders is central to our analytical enterprise, I introduce a set of key tools that are applicable across talk and text data in professional and institutional settings. Within what can be broadly captured as theme-oriented discourse analysis (Roberts and Sarangi 2005), I then illustrate the framework of ‘activity analysis’ (Sarangi 2000, 2010a, 2010b) which is distinctive in at least three ways: mapping of structural, interactional and thematic trajectories; relationality concerning focal themes and analytic themes; and role performance vis-à-vis participant structure. I also outline the framework of ‘accounts analysis’ which orients to the rhetorical properties of discourse data.
Srikant Sarangi: The figure-ground contours of institutional and professional discourse studies
Abstract: Discourses (i.e., talk, text and semiotic modalities) occupy a central place in institutional and professional contexts – in healthcare, law, social welfare, mediation, bureaucracy, education, banking, business and management etc. Discourse studies in institutional and professional settings have been conducted since 1970s and continue to grow, with collaborative, interdisciplinary research assuming prominence. In this presentation I undertake a scoping exercise and highlight the contours of the different traditions of institutional and professional discourse studies, which can be grouped under three categories: (i) the descriptive, genre-based studies focusing on specialised written registers; (ii) interpretive studies of talk and interaction in workplace settings; and (iii) studies constituting a problem-centred, interventionist agenda, sometimes involving close collaboration between discourse analysts and members of various professions.
A key argument is to keep the ‘institutional order’ conceptually and analytically separate from the ‘professional order’ while recognising their inter-relationships vis-à-vis the ‘everyday order’. For researchers in institutional and professional discourse studies, the implications are at the levels of what constitutes adequate discourse data (including thick participation) and what interpretive burdens are involved in discriminating discourses from their contexts (including thick description).
Rick Iedema’s abstract ‘Degeneracy in social scientific research’ Abstract: This presentation explores the implications of social-organisational complexity for the research approaches that we deploy to study that complexity. The presentation draws on health care research to illustrate the nature of social-organisational complexity, and to describe the kinds of approaches that may be used to engage with that complexity. The presentation considers whether social-organisational complexity warrants what we'll refer to as 'methodological degeneracy'. Borrowed from the biological sciences, the term 'degeneracy' is defined as 'affording robustness', and as such made relevant to contemporary social research practice.