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Title: Revisiting Goffman's postulates on participant statuses in verbal interaction
Author(s): Marta Dynel
Journal Title: Language and Linguistics Compass
Volume: 5
Issue: 7
Page Range: 454-465
Publication Date: Jul-2011
Abstract: Goffman’s work on participation marks a watershed in linguistic studies on speaker and hearer roles in interaction, both in everyday conversations and in media discourse. Goffman is thus widely credited for having expanded the dyadic (speaker – hearer) model of communication. Albeit not elaborated in detail, his classification of speaker roles, as well as listeners, the latter divided into ratified hearers (addressed and unaddressed recipients) and unratified hearers (bystanders, overhearers and eavesdroppers), is the departure point for various classifications of participants propounded by contemporary researchers. This article proposes an exegesis of Goffman’s work on participation, typified by talk, a strand which reverberates in his essays devoted to distinct topics, with special attention paid to non-speaking participant statuses. Only a bird’s-eye-view approach to Goffman’s writings guarantees a full picture of his conceptualisation of multi-party verbal encounters.

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Comments on Marta Dynel’s article   by Grace Zhang , 30-Aug-11
Marta Dynel’s ‘Revisiting Goffman’s postulates on participant statuses in verbal interaction’, by Grace Zhang, Aug 28, 2011 Dynel’s article provides a balanced and insightful account of Goffman’s thought-provoking postulates on participant statues in verbal interaction. Dynel’s closing remarks are particularly agreeable: “any critical overview of Goffman’s postulates must end with due recognition of their unprecedented ingeniousness” (p. 463). Here are some questions on Goffman’s postulates: 1) There are some elusive criteria of ‘talk’. Should the criteria include both the form and content of a talk? For example, A: Hello! B: Hello! Is this really what we would call a ‘talk’? 2) Is there any relationship between ‘ratified’ and ‘unratified’ participants? At what point does a participant become a ratified one or vice versa, and what triggers the change? 3) What are the distinctions between ‘subordinate communication’ and ‘dominating communication’ (p. 456)? 4) Would a teleconference be somewhere between face-to-face interaction and TV/radio communication? If so, how would it be different from the other two modes of communication in terms of Goffman’s postulates on participant status (p. 462-463)? 5) What are the implications of all these classifications, e.g. ratified vs. unratified, addressed vs. unaddressed? Goffman’s inspiring postulates and Dynel’s valuable paper bring out a number of fascinating points for discussion, comments are welcome.
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