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December 2021

The organization and development of discursive practices for ''having a theory''

Journal/Book: Discourse Process. 1999; 27: 100 Prospect St, PO Box 811, Stamford, CT 06904-0811, USA. Ablex Publ Corp. 187-218.

Abstract: This article compares cases of ''having a theory'' from two settings: a fragment of problem-based instruction recorded in a medical school (the recording analyzed in this special issue) and a published analysis of dinner table stories told among 5-year-old children, their older siblings, and parents (Ochs, Taylor, Rudolph, & Smith, 1992). In each setting, people propose what they or we might call ''theories''; then, these proposals are questioned, elaborated, and evaluated in conversation. Two questions drive this comparative analysis: (a) How do people make and use representations to bring theoretical entities, processes, and evaluations into conversation? and (b) How can an analysis of discursive practices across settings be specific about possible developmental trajectories? These questions lead to a potential paradox for studies of talk in interaction. On one hand, we render the practices of professional ''technoscientists'' as being ordinary; on the other hand, we render the practices of people in ''ordinary conversation'' as being scientific. Either this is a crisis for comparative research on the discursive practices of technoscience, or we face an opportunity to rebalance studies of the organization and development of discipline-specific competencies.

Note: Article Hall R, Univ Calif Berkeley, Grad Sch Educ, Berkeley,CA 94720 USA

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