LINGUIST List 13.41

Wed Jan 9 2002

Review: Negotiation & Power in Dialogic Interaction

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  • Niladri Sekhar Dash, Review of Weigand & Dascal, eds. Negotiation and Power in Dialogic Interaction

    Message 1: Review of Weigand & Dascal, eds. Negotiation and Power in Dialogic Interaction

    Date: Wed, 9 Jan 2002 14:07:48 +0530 (IST)
    From: Niladri Sekhar Dash <>
    Subject: Review of Weigand & Dascal, eds. Negotiation and Power in Dialogic Interaction

    Weigand, Edda, and Marcelo Dascal, eds. (2001) Negotiation and Power in Dialogic Interaction. John Benjamins Publishing Company, hardback ISBN 1-58811-047-8, viii+294pp, $86.00, Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 214.

    Dr. Niladri Sekhar Dash, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, India

    INTRODUCTION The volume contains a selection of papers presented at the International Conference on Pragmatics and Negotiation at Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in June, 1999. A part of the conference was devoted to 'Negotiation as Dialogic Concept' where a few hundred papers were presented dealing with a variety of topics and aspects of negotiation. The dialogic aspect was taken as the key concept to guide the present selection.

    The volume is divided in 3 major parts. Part I (Negotiation, Mediation and Power) contains 7 papers, Part II (Means of Negotiation) contains 4 papers, while Part III (Objects of Negotiation) contains 7 papers. Besides, the volume contains a short Introduction by E. Weigand, and M. Dascal, along with a general index, and the list of contributors.

    SUMMARY In "Reputation and refutation" (Pp. 1-17) Marcelo Dascal of Tel Aviv University looks into the evaluation of intellectual merit, and argues that 'de facto' merit is negotiated in a way that includes both refutation and reputation which are in fact two extremes of a continuum, rather than belonging to strictly separated categorical domains. He identifies reputation and refutation as two distinct domains of meaning, registers both internal and external relations between reputation and refutation, focuses on negotiating merit, investigates the role politeness in reputation and refutation, and finally explores the interface among ethics, epistemology and metaphysics of merit. How reputation plays a considerable role in academic life (p.7) is an interesting analysis which leads us to believe "any effort to maintain a reputation introduces necessarily an element that is alien to the value of the work, resulting in a reduction of that value and, ultimately, in the destruction of the reputation one wanted to preserve or increase" (p. 15).

    In "The mediator as power broker" (Pp. 19-37) Bruce Fraser of Boston University starts with a folk tale of Trinidad to show how efficiently a mediator can dissolve a crisis cropped up from different situations of life. The paper deals with how language is used in the exercise of power by mediators in performing their work as neutrals. The paper is on discourse analysis where the emphasis is on a conceptual rather than a linguistic analysis at the sorts of things a mediator does with language in pursuing a settlement between disputing parties. The paper gives us a brief overview on dispute resolution, addresses the entity of mediation and its structure, explores the power resources available to the mediators, and illustrates how these power resources are used by the mediators to what purposes. In the following section we get some examples of power that a mediator possesses and may exercise by virtue of his position as the neutral person selected by the parties to assist them.

    In "We are different than the Americans and the Japanese" (Pp. 39-62) Ruth Wodak and Gilbert Weiss of University of Vienna present a critical discourse analysis of decision-making in European Union meetings about employment policies. In the introduction they give us a brief discussion on the construction of Europe's identity and a short sequence of a tape-recorded meeting. The main focus of their paper is the linguistic analysis of the conflict between employers, politicians and members of the Trade Unions in the committee and the search for a consensus. Their main arguments are that context dependency is essential for recontextualization of documents (Sarangi 1998, Iedema 1999) from first draft to the final version. They also argue that the notion of 'globalization rhetoric' is extremely important in the genesis of the policy paper on employment policies. Finally, with the help of the critical ethnographic approach they are able to look behind 'closed doors' and to provide some transparency into the mechanisms of the European Union, the official and semi-official enactment of decision-making and conflict resolution. Their work can be seen as a contribution to the theory of organizational discourse and decision-making in organizations (p. 43)

    In "Games of Power" (Pp. 63-76) Edda Weigand of University of Muenster presents a small sketch on the general framework for dialogue as a game of negotiation. She concentrates on a specific feature implied in the notion of negotiation where she identifies two ways of using power in persuading people (giving presents, and making a threat). However, she agrees to Grice's (1975) opinion that "the best way of negotiating one's position is to be sincere and clear, to tell only the relevant things, not conceal or withheld truth, etc. (p. 66). She discusses the principles of negative use of power where she picks up some cognitive principles to show how power can play vital roles in negotiation. She analyses a dialogue of negotiation (a dialogue that involves representatives of China, representatives of Toyota Company, and a mediator) from an observer's perspective to show how principles like EVADING, INSISTING, CLARIFYING and TRYING TO GET PROOF are used to achieve a 'win/win negotiation' (i.e., a negotiation with some success for both parties). She rightly observes that "negotiation cannot be dealt with as a rule-governed verbal pattern of moves but represents an action game based on human interests and conditions of behaviour" (p. 75).

    In "The Grammar of bargaining" (Pp. 77-90) Franz Hundsnurscher of University of Muenster takes bargaining as an illustrative example of a large family of language games that center around the problem of how to reach agreement on the background of divergent interests. In his opinion bargaining can be considered as a transient type of dialogue where each participant has his own aims although the overall goal is to reach an agreement in order to make a transaction possible that both parties consider to be in their interest. He presents a simple model (with minimum constellation of two speakers) in which some of the basic elements of a bargaining interaction are illustrated. He also presents a significant example of methodological confusion in discourse analysis, and argues that "by reference to the different status of underlying basic move structure and overlying conversational and strategic structure that determine the actual course of any bargaining interaction" (p. 80). He uses his model as an illustrative example for the 'deep structure' of bargaining interactions, and comments on three factors (structural level, conversational level and strategic level) that are responsible for the 'recalcitrant complexity' of authentic bargaining talk.

    In "Negotiation in business meetings" (Pp. 91-106) Monika Dannerer of University of Salzburg tries to show not only the institutional influences on 'negotiation', but also the connection between the way the topic is treated and the interpersonal relations and their subtle balancing. She makes an effort to identify what is negotiation and what can be negotiated - where she mostly follows the lines defined by Firth (1995). She focuses on patterns and models of negotiation where she considers negotiation as an 'activity' and as an 'interactional phenomenon'. She illustrates a corpus of 8 video-taped cross-departmental meetings (with a total length of 12 hours) dealing with the issue of restructuring the co-operation between different departments in a large Austrian company. With examples and arguments she tries to show that negotiation in business meetings is not always finished with the utterance of agreement (or with agreement about disagreement), but that the sequence of 'cooling-out' seems to be important for further co-operation in the work place (p. 103) because participants often continue with their interaction in a very specific way.

    In "Interlocutionary scenarios as negotiation of diatextual power" (Pp. 107- 122) Giuseppe Mininni of University of Bari argues that power negotiation is one of the most intriguing issues in the study of communicative events. He considers psychopragmatics as a theory of interlocution where he differentiates among mediation, negotiation, communication and interaction, and proposes a 'diatextual' approach to account for the Subject/Situation embedding. "Diatext is a psychopragmatical device to understand the context as it is perceived by the utterers of the text, as they imagine it and show that they take it into account" (p. 110). He turns his attention towards a dialogic discursive psychology where he analyses speech acts and discursive acts, and identifies interlocutionary scenario as Self/Other positioning. While dealing with how negotiation stakes power, he draws a consensual view of power and its diatextual form, and presents a few case studies on the modalities of diatextual power. Examples of various dialogic sequence show that in communication events people interact by negotiating their diatextual power enabling them to monitor the agreement degree they can get in a given situation (p. 119).

    In "Addresser, Addressee and target" (Pp. 125-137) Elda Weizman of Bar Ilan University investigates negotiating roles through ironic criticism. Her discussion is based on a corpus of 24-hour videotaped short interviews featuring daily program broadcast on Israeli national television, Channel 1, between 1991 and 1993. She makes a few theoretical observation and analyses two formats of target-addressee interrelations. She also explicates the role of ironic criticism in the negotiation of interactional roles. The analysis of irony is based on a model of text-understanding postulated and applied to journalistic and literary texts. The model presupposes a three-level distinction (Grice 1971, Dascal 1983) between sentence meaning, utterance meaning and speaker's meaning. The model further distinguishes two types of contextual information: extra-linguistic knowledge pertaining to the world, and meta-linguistic knowledge pertaining to interpreter's intuitive 'feeling' for linguistic conventions. She argues that "the study of irony in context indicates that the functions and the interpretation of irony are determined, to a large extent, by the dynamic structure of the text and the specific features of the interactional situations" (p.136).

    In "Negotiation of irony in dialogue" (Pp. 139-148) Andreea Ghita of University of Bucharest first analyses if irony is defensive or aggressive in dialogue. She focuses on the 'business' of irony: the indirectness of the statement and the participants's ironic rights and privileges. This discussion is followed by her analysis on the negotiation of ironic meaning to be successful in verbal business. She also explains the success and failure of irony in respect to hearer's response and argues that "the only validation of the communicative success of irony is the immediate verbal response to it" (p. 144). Finally, she considers some simulated examples for experimenting the negotiation of irony where she is exclusively concerned with the conflicting, derogatory nature of the ironic meaning. We can agree with her observation that irony is partially and passively successful when the addressee does not cooperate with the speaker's ironic game, but irony is definitely successful when the participants share the ironic meaning entertaining the pleasure of literal competitive complicity.

    In "A case of negotiation" (Pp. 149-166) Mirka Maraldi of University of Bologna and Anna Orlandini University of Toulouse-Le Mirail analyze the interactive and interactional aspects of some expressions employed in Latin to realize the aspects which are mainly applied within the argumentative concession. They discuss the linguistic theory of argumentation (the properties that distinguish concession from refutation in conversational exchanges), the interface of concession and refutation in argumentation, and the application of concession and refutation in Latin dialogue. They show that in Latin, the "reactive moves of refutation or concession are not introduced by the same lexical items, but they introduce replies giving the alternative choice of closing or pursuing the exchange" (p. 154). Also in Latin, "it happens sometimes that the same discourse particle introduces reactive moves with different illocutionary functions" (P. 157). Finally, they investigate the role of concession as a rhetorical strategy and concession as a process of anticipated negotiation. Their analysis of data shows that in Latin various strategies come into play and find expression in different types of construction. In both hypotactic structure (with a subordinate and a main clause) and correlative structure the first member contains a discourse particle while the second member is introduced by an adversative connective.

    In "Silence as a tool for the negotiation of sense in multi-party conversations" (Pp. 167-180) Michela Cortini of University of Bari is interested to know how interactors use both 'mechanical' and 'logical' devices in communication. Her main focus is on the phenomenon of silence as a tool for the negotiation of sense. She uses two sets of corpus: corpus A contains data obtained from observations and transcriptions of ordinary life episodes while corpus B contains data from broadcast conversations. In conversational analysis she defines various contexts of dialogues, differentiates basic aspects of di-logue, tri-logue and poli-logue, identifies roles of recipients in all types of 'logues', focuses on the nature of 'conflict talk' in conversational analysis, and observes how silence works in multi-party conversations. She is able to draw a fine line of distinction between 'a silence constituted by context' and ' a silence constituting the context'. Finally, she refers to 4 maxims of Grice's (1975) Cooperative Principle and shows how violations of maxims can effect any fruitful conversation. She observes that "every social interaction has its rules when managing silence" (p. 178). Following her we can understand that silence is meaningful in all kinds of conversation and it is to be rightly interpreted by interactors and solved in some significant meanings to decipher its sense.

    In "The negotiation of affect in natural conversation" (Pp. 183-196) Martina Drescher of University of Bayreuth presents the results of a research project on affect in natural conversation where she concentrates on everyday talk and the forms of affective involvement typical of this kind of interaction. Starting with a case study, where she uses a set of French data, she first shows how the participants, in course of their interaction, display and negotiate the nature and intensity of their affective involvement and how they finally come to a kind of affective synchronization. Finally, she proposes a theoretical framework aimed at modeling both the interactive character of affect and the linguistic properties of the verbal manifestations of affective stance.

    In "Implicit communication in political interviews" (Pp. 197-214) Gerda Lauerbach of University of Frankfurt/Main looks into the genre of political interviews which is particularly susceptible to implicit communication and may be more in need of inferential enrichment than less complex genres. She offers some remarks on the analysis of genre in general and of the political interview in particular, and presents a sample analysis based on an interview from the BBC coverage of the night of the British General Elections of 1997. She uses various approaches as well as Hasan's tripartite model (Halliday and Hasan 1985) with necessary and required modifications to analyze genre of political interviews. After thorough analysis of the corpus of political interviews she argues that in their 'evasive' answers politicians transport additional implicit meanings that can function to exert subtle influence on the interviewer's agenda (p. 199). Her study shows that "inferential analysis uncovers a complex web of coherence relations below the surface and points to the hidden agendas pursued by interviewers and interviewees, collusively, antagonistically, or both" (p. 207).

    In "Negotiation of topics in professional e-mail-communication" (Pp. 215-224) Annely Rothkegel of University of Applied Sciences Hannover is interested in the method of analyzing the information flow during a professional conversation as it is achieved in computer mediated communication. The ideas are mostly related to a project on specifics of intercultural communication in international settings where e-mail provides some kind of 'spoken' (spontaneous) conversation in terms of written text packages. Their main interest is develop a linguistic tool for analysis and comparison which will allow them to relate context aspects with each other and also with respect to authentic utterances. For this they give preference to an action-oriented model which does not distinguish between verbal and non-verbal actions. Their study is a first step of developing a linguistic representation of information flow in dialogue which takes different levels of communication into account. It is assumed that the parallelism of information and interaction allows a better structuring of the units concerned that provides some kind of 'tertium comparationis' for the comparison of conversation strategies (p. 223).

    In "Negotiation and identity" (Pp. 225-237) Robert Maier of Utrecht University investigates a more dynamic and important role of identity of the participants when they are engaged in any kind of negotiation. He suggests that various phases of negotiations and their possible resolutions will go hand in hand with transformations of the identity of the parties involved. From various perspectives (theoretical, anthropological, philosophical, pragmatic, etc.) he rejects different theories of identity and negotiation, and proposes a working definition of identity and negotiation. He analyses various ways in which transformations of identity are characteristic of phases of negotiations. Quite beautifully he shows how the participants use or refer to specific power (physical force, threats, promises, arguments, etc.) in all kinds conflicts, fights, negotiations and debates. Finally, he is able to prove that "during the process of interaction, and in particular in negotiations, the (potential) power play will effect the social and psychological aspects of identity and the process of self-identification and categorization, and therefore transform the identity of the participants" (p. 235). We gain much insight from his classification of six concrete forms of power as well as from the parameters of their cross-comparison.

    In "The negotiation of relevance" (Pp. 239-252) Frank Liedtke of Rhein. Westf. Techn. Hochschule Aachen investigates how the concept of relevance occupies a central role in all kinds of negotiation. He discusses the notion of relevance in a historical perspective and refers to the contemporary approaches to the study of relevance. He argues that relevance is something which may be negotiated between the participants of that dialogue as well as other things. Relevance is not something which is being fixed in advance, but something which usually is going to be negotiated between the participants of a dialogue, i.e. "the final ascription of a certain degree of relevance to an utterance may be the outcome of a process of negotiation, in which the participants are involved" (p. 244). Finally, he considers and analyses a TV-discussion (where four literary critics are discussing a series of books that appeared in the past) to demonstrate how the degree of relevance is negotiated between the participants and to raise the general question whether the transfer of the notion of negotiation form a specific context of a legitimate dialogue or not.

    In "Unspoken assertions" (Pp. 253-266) Barbara A. Emmel of University of Muenster deals with underlying assumptions (unstated assertions) that mostly control our discourses in shared starting points, both in speech and writing. She defines the role of assumption in discourse and investigates (with a model for negotiating assumptions through conversation) how a discourse involves the negotiation of assumptions to correlate and negotiate human positions, tasks and interests. She also describes the role of dialogue as deep agreement, and finally, explores the connections between dialogue and writing to reveal that while writing can reflect local paradigms of the assumption-assertion relationship at work and ligatures on the sentence level at work in shaping larger understanding and meanings, speech has also multiple levels of meaning ranging from the initiative and reactive propositional level, to a whole conversational/narrative level, to that which is culturally-embedded and which often remains unspoken. Her work is able to "represent how we construct shared knowledge, shared meanings, and shared understandings about our shared worlds, through language as a medium of sharing and shaping..." (p. 264).

    In "Negotiating social relationship: Fontane's gossip" (Pp. 267-288) Ernest W. B. Hess-Luettich of University of Bern looks into the rhetoric of discreet indiscretion in Theodor Fontane's society novel 'L'Adultera', where he considers gossip as a genre of everyday talk in the study of language and literature. His main interest is to explore how the author creates various forms of fictive, simulated, 'literary' gossip in order to structure the course of action, to give an indirect sketch of the characters, to include critical comments on the society of the time, and to aesthetically present the ways of 'negotiating social relationships'. After defining gossip as a social frame for discreet indiscretion, he describes the nature of gossip in Fontane's 'L'Adultera', and finally, discusses the role of gossip in everyday life and literature. Following the traits of his arguments probably we can agree with his observation that "gossip appears to be an instrument of negotiating social control which tests the rules of living together and permits disturbed balances to be resolved" (p. 280).

    DISCUSSION After going through this volume any lover of language and linguistics will be delighted to realize that the horizon of linguistics is gradually widening up, and many new areas which at certain times were considered as 'untouchables' in language study are getting their due in the whole gamut of language study and research. Such wider relevance and application of linguistics can probably inspire us to say "where there is language there is linguistics". The volume can be a good example to know how linguists are redirecting their attentions to various domains of everyday linguistic interactions to capture the wide spectrum of discourse, a central area in linguistics research. The volume has looked into the linguistics in negotiation, mediation, social power, bargaining, business meeting, irony, silence, political interview, social identity, gossip, etc. We can hope some new areas of discourse will be identified in future, and their linguistic analysis will give us much insight to know how language are fashioned (both active and passive way) in achieving goals. The publishing company also deserve thanks for bringing out such a nice volume.

    REFERENCES Dascal, M. (1983) Pragmatics and the Philosophy of Mind. Vol.I: Language and Thought. John Benjamins: Amterdam & Philadelphia. Firth, A. (1995) "Introduction and Overview", in Allan Firth (ed.) The Discourse of Negotiation: Studies of language in the work-place. Oxford: Pergamon. Pp. 3-39. Grice, H. P. (1971) "Utterer's Meaning, Sentence Meaning, and Word Meaning". In John. R. Searle (ed.) The Philosophy of Language. London: Oxford University Press. Pp. 54-70. Grice, H. P. (1975) "Logic and Conversation". Syntax and Semantics. (Vol. III), in Peter Cole and Jerry L. Morgan (eds.) Speech Acts. New York: Academic Press. Pp. 41-58. Halliday, M.A.K. and Hassan, R. (1985) Language, Context and Text: Aspects of language in a social-semiotic perspective. Victoria: Deakin University Press. Iedema, R. (1999) "Formalizing Organizational Meaning". Discourse and Society, 10(1): 49-66. Sarangi, S. (1998) "Rethinking Recontextualization in Professional Discourse Studies: An epilogue". Text, 18(2): 301-318.

    ABOUT THE REVIEWER Dr. Niladri Sekhar Dash works as a Linguist in Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition Unit of Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, India. His research interest includes corpus linguistics, discourse and pragmatics, lexical semantics, lexicography, morphology, etc. Presently he is working on corpus-based lexicography and word-sense disambiguation in Bangla.