Conducting a task while reconstructing its meaning: Interaction, professional identities and recontextualization of a written task assignment

Riikka Nissi and Esa Lehtinen


This article investigates the way an institutional task of a meeting is oriented to by different meeting participants and developed in and through local interaction. Our data come from a city organization, where a large organizational change is planned and prepared through a series of face-to-face encounters and accompanying written texts. Using the notion of recontextualization and by connecting it to the conversation analytical method and to the notion of intersubjectivity, the study examines how the institutional task that is verbalized in written form prior to the meeting is conceptualized by meeting participants in their turns of talk. By doing so, the study will particularly shed light on the question of how different recontextualizations are motivated by their sequential position in interaction. Based on this, it also investigates how the meeting participants construct their professional identities through the conceptualizations made. In a wider sense, the article shows how spoken interaction and written texts interweave and form a reciprocal relationship in organizational life. Thus, it contributes to a deeper understanding about the multifaceted connections between the interactional management of meetings and wider organizational practices and processes that these encounters have been set up to advance.

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