Pragmatics and the consequentiality of talk : a study of members' methods at a planning application meeting
This study explores how talk is consequential by examining the sequential and pragmatic phenomena in talk-in-interaction. Reflecting the work of conversation analysis (CA), the approach assumes that the consequentiality of a 'context' must be demonstrated by the informants' sequential practices (cf. Schegloff 1987, Boden and Zimmerman 1991). However, in this study a model of consequentiality is proposed, in which not only sequential phenomena but also pragmatic categories are included within the repertoire of members' methods. In this way, the indexicality of language as explained by pragmatic theory is seen to contribute to the account of talk as consequential. The data represent a meeting between an urban planning department and a national development company in which a planning application is discussed. As such, members' methods are seen to invoke the institutional nature of the encounter, in which the formality of the setting and the work-related membership of the interactants is systematically oriented to. The talk consists of a series of negotiated issues in which the developers and the planners propose different candidate outcomes reflecting each party’s professional aims and the constraints they consider themselves to operate under. In particular, the analysis shows that candidate outcomes are largely managed by sequential preference systems and pragmatically characterized face-address (Brown and Levinson 1978, 1987).The notion of reflexivity is also seen as a significant component in the study of consequentiality. While the concept is a basic assumption in a CA framework (Garfinkel and Sacks 1969) and is also recognized as fundamental in pragmatic inquiry (Lucy 1993), few studies provide a detailed analysis of members' reflexive awareness of the contexts they create. In this study, the interactants' metalinguistic and metapragmatic orientation, invoked by both pragmatic and sequential methods, is shown to be a prevalent members' resource for indicating awareness of consequentiality. Finally, observations of the kind made in this thesis, wherein pragmatic categories both work together and are systematically related to the sequential environment, contribute to a general re-analysis of pragmatic meaning. At the same time, the interaction of pragmatic and sequential features also represents a dynamic starting point for developing new methodological categories for investigating talk-in-interaction.