Demonstrative questions and epistemic authority management in medium-sitter interactions
Some examples from an Italian “public mediumship demonstration”
Although paranormal experiences have been broadly investigated, medium-sitter interactions have been studied much less. In this article, five excerpts from an Italian “public mediumship demonstration” are presented with the main aim to answer the following research questions: (1) what are the linguistic strategies used by the medium to manage her epistemic authority and by the sitters to acknowledge, strengthen, resist or contest it? (2) how do these strategies affect the sequential structure of interaction? The analyses reveal that: the medium mainly uses demonstrative questions; sitters generally confirm what the medium discloses, acknowledging her epistemic authority; when sitters do not confirm, the medium resorts to three main linguistic strategies attempting to (re)establish her authority; when the medium has to manage confirmation failures, the sequential structure becomes more complex.
Keywords: medium-sitter interaction, public mediumship demonstration, epistemic authority, persuasion, KUB theoretical model, certainty, uncertainty, knowledge questions, linguistic strategies for confirmation failures
- 2.Corpus, aims, methods
- KUB Model
- 3.1Some quantitative data
- 3.2The qualitative analysis
- 3.2.1Confirmative answers
- The acknowledgment of M’s epistemic authority
- The strengthening of M’s epistemic authority
- 3.2.2Confirmative failures
- Reworking questions on the basis of what S has previously said to reduce the likelihood of obtaining another disconfirming answer
- Overlapping and quickly shifting to a related topic to limit the damage
- Self-repair expressions (I explained myself poorly) to ascribe S’s disconfirmation to a linguistic misunderstanding, and adding new questions
- 3.2.1Confirmative answers
- 4.Conclusion and discussion
Published online: 04 September 2020
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