The institutional provision for silence
On the evasive nature of politicians’ answers to reporters’ questions
This paper explores how what is both appropriate to and excluded from consideration in a given episode of talk involving question-and-answers between a speaker and audience is the outcome of complex negotiation. We consider the details of such collaborative work in talk at a press conference with the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, in discussion concerning his own and other countries’ military involvement in the Middle East. What gets excluded from consideration in the talk is itself established in dialogic interaction where the problematic nature of inferences potentially made relevant to the discussion is highlighted by reporters and brought to account by the Prime Minister. This feature of dialogue is related to recent scholarly debate regarding the place that context of controversy and the implicit availability of meaning should play in an analysis of talk, where what does not get said features as of equal importance as what does get said. We explore how the questions at issue in just such debates get taken up as participant concerns, pursued as a practical order of business in efforts where principal speakers work to foreclose the inferential potential otherwise opened up by audience scrutiny.
Keywords: dialogue, context, collaboration, evasive rhetoric, social structure
Published online: 21 March 2006
Cited by 3 other publications
Ikeanyibe, Okey Marcellus, Christian Chukwuebuka Ezeibe, Peter Oluchukwu Mbah & Chikodiri Nwangwu
Schröter, Melani & Petra Storjohann
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