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Conference Information

Full Title: Formulations & the Construction of Narratives in Institutional Settings

Location: New Delhi, India
Start Date: 08-Sep-2013 - 13-Sep-2013
Contact: Fleur van der Houwen, Keun Sliedrecht
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting Description: For this panel we invite discussion on formulations (Heritage & Watson, 1979) and how these formulations function in the co-construction of ‘institutionalized’ narratives. Formulations are candidate understandings of what participants have said earlier in the conversation (Heritage & Watson, 1979) and negotiate ‘what we are talking about.’ Participants hence use formulations as an interactional tool to negotiate knowledge and attain mutual understanding. Formulations have been studied in various institutional settings, for example in therapy and counseling (e.g Antaki, 2008; Stommel & van der Houwen, forthcoming 2013), in news interviews (Heritage, 1985), and judicial settings (Sliedrecht & van Charldorp 2011; Van der Houwen, 2009). In these settings the participants focus on the construction of a narrative that fits the institutional goals. In therapy, the therapist elicits the client’s personal narrative by asking questions in order to make a diagnosis. In a police interrogation, the police officer interrogates a suspect in order to record ‘what happened’. As has been shown in several studies, formulations play a central role in the construction of (institutional) narratives. Though, findings about formulations are diffused (Antaki, 2008). This panel elaborates on previous studies and explicitly addresses the role of formulations in narratives that the participants co-construct; a focus that enables a comparative view between findings about formulations in different institutional settings (see Drew, 2003). Questions that come to mind are for example:

- How does the institution affect the form formulations take?
- How do formulations reflect understanding of earlier utterances and what does that say about shared or non-shared understanding of the institution?
- Who does the formulating and how might that be related to the respective role parties have in a specific institution (e.g. lay or professional)?

The aim is to further our understanding of both the ‘use’ of formulations in different settings as well as the institution in which participants draw upon this strategy (see Drew 2003). In this panel we want to bring together studies of different institutions with a focus on the role of the institutional communicative goal and how it is oriented to by respective parties.


Antaki, C. (2008). Formulations in psychotherapy. In A.Peräkylä, C. Antaki, Vehviläinen Sanna, & I. Leudar (Eds.), Conversation analysis and psychotherapy (pp. 26-42). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Drew, Paul 2003. Comparative Analysis of Talk-in-Interaction in Different Institutional Settings: A Sketch. In Philip Glenn, LeBaron, Curtis D., Mandelbaum, Jenny (Ed.), Studies in Language and Social interaction in honor of Robert Hopper. Mahweh: Lawrence Erlbaum, pp. 293-308.

Heritage, J. & Watson, D. R. (1979). Formulations as conversational objects. In G.Psathas (Ed.), Everyday Language (pp. 123-162). New York: Irvington Press.

Heritage, J. (1985). Analyzing news interviews: aspects of the production of talk for an overhearing audience. In T.A.v.Dijk (Ed.), Handbook of discourse analysis. (vol.3 ed., pp. 95-116). London: Academic Press.

Sliedrecht, K. Y. & Charldorp, van T. C. (2011). Tussen spraak en schrift: de rol van samenvattingen in het politieverhoor. Tijdschrift voor Taalbeheersing, 33, 34-55.

Van der Houwen, F. (2009). Formulating disputes. Journal of Pragmatics, 41, 2072-2085.
Linguistic Subfield: Discourse Analysis; Pragmatics; Sociolinguistics
LL Issue: 23.4081

This is a session of the following meeting:
13th International Pragmatics Conference

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