LINGUIST List 31.2694

Mon Aug 31 2020

Calls: Pragmatics/Switzerland

Editor for this issue: Lauren Perkins <>

Date: 31-Aug-2020
From: Jana Declercq <>
Subject: Ideology and Language in Health Discourses and Health Care Interactions
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Full Title: Ideology and Language in Health Discourses and Health Care Interactions

Date: 27-Jun-2021 - 02-Jul-2021
Location: Winterthur, Switzerland
Contact Person: Jana Declercq
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): Pragmatics

Call Deadline: 25-Oct-2020

Meeting Description:

This panel addresses how ideology comes into play in health care interactions and/or in discourses about health. We define ideology as assumptions, expectations and frames that allow individuals to make sense of what is going on beyond the sole here-and-now of a single event, beliefs which contribute to the realisation and interpretation of individuals’ actions (Hanks 2005). We focus on two kinds of ideologies in the context of health discourses. First, we examine language ideologies, e.g. of what interaction in health care should look like. For instance, the asymmetry in communication between doctor and patient is often problematized, in favour of a more equal, patient-centred approach, in communication training in health programmes. However, there may be “good organizational reasons for what appears to be medical dominance” (Pilnick and Dingwall 2011: 1378), because of the topic and tasks of medical interactions, and that patients co-construct the relationship as asymmetrical. Likewise, number of health campaigns opt for communication strategies based on a virtually acontextual vision of decision-making (Merminod 2020), echoing the “view of communication as the public ‘airing’ of ideas that started out as privately conceived and individually owned” (Duranti 2005: 411).

Secondly, health discourses are shaped and shape ideologies of health and illness (Jones 2013). Being healthy or ill is more than the biomechanical reality of viruses or traceable tissue injury (Briggs and Hallin 2018; Declercq 2018). It also entails our shared understandings and evaluations of what constitutes as health and illness; of particular illnesses; and of how treatment should be approached. These understandings and assumptions can be an important site of friction in health discourses and interactions. Health and illness are sometimes understood differently in the public sphere than in the medical world; illnesses, treatments and patients (groups) can come with stigma or taboo. As these understandings and evaluations are essentially discursive, a linguistic/language perspective is crucial here too.

Gaining an understanding of how ideologies shape health discourses and health care interactions, as created, regimented by and sustained in communities of patients, health care professionals and other relevant professionals, and academics, thus is important, and can contribute to solving some critical issues in health care.

Call for Papers:

If you are interested in presenting a paper in this panel, please send your abstract draft (min. 350 and max. 500 words) by 1 October 2020 to the organizers, Jana Declercq and Gilles Merminod, at and

All abstracts will have to be submitted individually through the IPrA website ( by 25 October 2020. Make sure to select “Ideology and Language in Health Discourses and Health Care Interactions” as the panel for your submission. For more information on submission, please visit

Page Updated: 31-Aug-2020