Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login

New from Cambridge University Press!


Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

New from Wiley!


We Have a New Site!

With the help of your donations we have been making good progress on designing and launching our new website! Check it out at!
***We are still in our beta stages for the new site--if you have any feedback, be sure to let us know at***

Review of  Communicating & Relating

Reviewer: Stephanie Lerat
Book Title: Communicating & Relating
Book Author: Robert B. Arundale
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics
Anthropological Linguistics
Issue Number: 32.1141

Discuss this Review
Help on Posting

Robert B. Arundale’s 400-page manuscript, Communicating & Relating: Constituting Face in Everyday Interacting (C&R) deals with how we interact and relate. The eleven chapters are divided into two main parts: Communicating, dealing with the Conjoint Co-constituting Model of Communicating (Chapter 1-6) and Relating covering Face Constituting Theory (Chapters 7-11). The first part addresses the question “How do participants constitute turns, actions, and meanings in everyday interacting?” The second part seeks to answer the question “How do participants constitute relating in everyday interacting?”.

The introduction outlines the four ways in which Arundale’s account diverges from traditional accounts, namely with respect to what constitutes human communication, how human social systems are defined, what is social and what is individual in communication and finally what compromises human relating. The author’s stated intention is to encourage readers to explore the two alternative frameworks presented, the Conjoint Co-Constituting Theory Model of Communicating (CCMC) and Face Constituting Theory (FCT) and to consider them with respect to other accounts.

The opening chapter, entitled “Two Projects”, gives a general overview of the two conceptual frameworks, the CCMC and the FCT, thus preparing the reader for the rest of the book. An emphasis is put on the divergences from traditional approaches to communicating and relating. The choice of the terms communicating and relating as opposed to communication and relationship is discussed, foregrounding the dynamic nature of the processes.

In the second chapter, “What is Social in Communicating?”, the first three of nine assumptive commitments are introduced and explained. The Dialectical Commitment accentuates the non-dualistic approach adopted. This commitment holds that there is a link between what is social and what is individual in communicating. The Social Systems Commitment states the non-additive nature of social systems and that they are interactively organized. The Communicating Commitment describes communicating as being sequential interaction yielding non-additive interdependence between the participants. A consequence of this commitment is that within the CCMC, the minimum unit for communicating is a dyad.

Chapter 3, “The conjoint co-constituting model of communicating”, introduces the fourth commitment, the Temporal Commitment, which states that interacting is interactionally achieved in a sequential time frame. This leads to a discussion of the core principle of the CCMC, the Adjacent Placement Principle. This principle specifies that the sequential time frame of communicating evolves with adjacent turn construction units. The distinction between provisional (without knowledge of others’ interpretings, a term used instead of interpretation to underline the dynamic nature of the process) and operative interpretings (based on another participant’s display of interpreting), central to the CCMC, is drawn in this chapter, underlining the requirement of three adjacent utterances for operative interpreting. Two key sets of processes are presented: the Sequential Interpreting Process (SIP) and the Recipient Design Process (RDP). These distinctions are illustrated with an extract of Marty and Loes’s conversation.

The fourth chapter, “What is individual in communicating?”, focuses on the individual aspects of communicating and introduces the fifth and sixth commitments. The Individual Resources Commitment holds that meaning at an individual level is never accessible to anyone else. The Distinction/Relation commitments underlines the requirement of establishing distinctions in order to generate relationships. The SIP and RDP are developed further. An extract of Curt, Mike and Phyllis’ conversation serves as a basis to illustrate these principles.

The fifth chapter, “Conjointly Co-constituting the Social and the Individual in Communicating” addresses the three final assumptive commitments. The Conjoint Co-constituting/Individual Resources Commitment highlights the fact that individual resources allow for conjoint co-constituting and vice-versa. Commonality is discussed as a non-additive property distinct from common knowledge, specifically insofar as it requires inter-action in order to be established. The Conjoint Co-Constituting/Social Systems commitment affirms that social systems are organized thanks to conjoint co-constituting and that co-constituting requires stable social systems. The final commitment, the Human Systems Commitment asserts that human systems are non-additive systems which are constantly evolving through communicating. The key concepts from this section are illustrated by an extract of Sissy and Gramma’s conversation.

In the last chapter of the first section, “Conjoint Co-Constituting Implications”, the fact that within the CCMC sociality and individuality are not separable is emphasized. The CCMC results in the new concept of non-reductive interactionism, entailing that what is under study is not an entity but dynamic processes. A number of key concepts are reviewed and commonly held positions are compared to their conceptualization in C&R. The chapter closes with a review of other existing models of human communication and their incompatibility with the CCMC, such as Information Transmission Models, Encoding/Decoding models, and Interactional achievement models.

In the opening chapter of the second part of the book, “Conjointly Co-Constituting Relating”, the question of relating is explored beginning with a consideration of Baxter & Montgomery’s (1996) account. C&R differs from their account because the connection and separation dialectic is considered the primary dialectic of relating. In the FCT, both connection and separation are always present in some form. The chapter closes with an overview of accounts which are not consistent with the FCT , such as those which consider relating in terms of self and other, social cognitions/emotions, socially oriented factors, power and distance, affiliation and disaffiliation.

The objective of Chapter 8, “Face Constituting Theory”, is to offer a formal statement of the FCT. The four key assumptions of the FCT are outlined: 1) the social/individual dialectic, 2) the primary role of the connection/separation, 3) Face, understood within the connection/separation dialectic as culture-general and 4) interpretings of face as conjointly co-constituting operative interpretings of connection/separation. Six alternative non-compatible accounts of face are examined. The chapter closes by considering how participants evaluate interpretings in general as well as with respect to face threat and im/politeness which, although possibly examined with the FCT, do not play a key role in its theorization.

In the ninth chapter, “Conjointly Co-Constituting Relating and Face in Everyday Interacting”, the methodological requirements enabling an observer/analyst to articulate interpretings are established and the importance of drawing on available additional information is underlined. Three detailed examples of such interpretings are proposed. For Marty and Loes, the role of repair in relating is considered. For Curt and Mike, relating with respect to tension is examined, and for Gramma and Sissy separation is explored.

Chapter 10 proposes an overview of different methodological considerations, drawing on Krippendorff (1970) and considering the four procedures (observing, generating data, producing evidence and interpreting results) with respect to the CCMC and FCT. Seven requirements in methods which use the two conceptualizations are outlined and different existing methods (discourse analysis, ethnography of communication and membership categorization analysis) are considered. Five types of data (aggregational data, network data, elementary communication data, interactional achievement data and conjoint co-constituting data) are examined to conclude that conjoint co-constituting data, is the only data which can provide information regarding non-additive properties and thus inform research within the CCMC and FCT.

The final chapter, “Conjoint Co-Constituting, Constituting Face and Future Research”, is organized around four questions which can serve to compare conceptual frameworks, and which are articulated with respect to C&R. The response to the first question, “What is entirely new in C&R, with no counterpart?”, is the dialectical commitment, the distinction between provisional and operative interpretings in inter-action and the non-reductive interactionism. As an answer to the second question, “What has been reframed in C&R?”, the response is communication as the process of communicating and the notion of face. For the third question, “What has been avoided or eliminated in C&R?” the suggested response is avoiding a focus on only the social or the individual, the absence of the participant’s perspective as well as considering non-additive social systems as entities or forces. For the last question, “What can be done from here using C&R?”, five themes for future research are proposed.


Arundale brilliantly achieves his stated two-fold goal of introducing the reader to the CCMC and FCT and of encouraging the reader to compare them to other accounts. The fact that throughout the book aspects of the CCMC and FCT are compared with other conceptualizations helps the reader understand the specificities of his account and allows the reader to formulate their own judgements. This book outlines a radically different way of approaching the concepts of communicating, relating and face than what is suggested in the more traditional accounts. C&R is a clear, stand-alone discussion of the CCMC and FCT. It does not assume familiarity with Arundale’s previous work nor prior knowledge of the two conceptual frameworks. However, basic familiarity with the other approaches described assists in understanding its departure from these accounts.

Arundale’s work calls into question many other approaches--for example the notion of face--and draws extensively on existent work. As he outlines in the last chapter of his work, there are many avenues for future research, such as developing first-order descriptions of face (culture-specific) which would develop understanding surrounding communicating and relating. Arundale’s work is dense and many examples are employed throughout the text. For the reader, it would be helpful to have even more examples of analyses, beyond the three in Chapter 9, carried out using CCMC and FCT-consistent methods to illustrate even further the power of the conceptualizations in accounting for relating in interacting.

This book would be a welcome addition to researchers and graduate students interested in communication, conversational analysis and face. The writing style and frequent use of examples makes the arguments easy to follow. For those less familiar with conversational analysis, as it is what Arundale calls “applied conversational analysis” the is slightly less accessible.

Overall, Communicating & Relating is a clear argument for a revolutionary way of considering human interaction with pertinent examples illustrating key notions.


Baxter, L. A., & Montgomery, B. M. (1996). Relating: Dialogues and Dialectics.
New York: Guilford.

Krippendorff, K. (1970). “On Generating Data in Communication Research.” Journal of Communication 20 (3): 241–69.
Stephanie Lerat is an Assistant Professor at the ATILF Laboratory (Université de Lorraine/CNRS). Her research interests include speech acts and hashtags in English and French-language digitally-mediated communication and intercultural communication.

Format: Hardback
ISBN-13: 9780190210199
Pages: 488
Prices: U.S. $ 74.00