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“Ordinariness” in media discourse

The pro­ject fo­cuses on inter­ac­tions in which ordi­nary speakers posi­tion themselves, their inter­locu­tors or third par­ties as ordi­nary, and by do­ing so refer in­dexi­cally to the inter­con­nect­ed­ness be­tween the pri­vate/pub­lic sphere and so­cial, polit­ical and commu­nica­tive ac­countabil­ity. The dis­cur­sive strat­egies to be ana­lysed in­clude, first-frame met­a-pragmatic comments; se­man­tic prosodies; self- and oth­er-naming, ad­dress terms; quo­ta­tions from ordi­nary peo­ple; small sto­ries and self-disclo­sures.


We ex­amine the fol­low­ing hy­poth­eses:

  1. The dis­cur­sive value of (non-)or­di­nar­iness does not only de­pend on the pro­duc­tion for­mat, but also on the re­cep­tion for­mat.
  2. The dis­cur­sive con­struc­tion of (non-)or­di­nar­iness is used stra­tegi­cally to ad­dress the premise of ac­countabil­ity of commu­nica­tive ac­tion in me­diat­ed pub­lic talk.
  3. When con­structed by ordi­nary speakers, ordi­nar­iness is used stra­tegi­cally as a way of dis­tanc­ing from non-ordi­nary polit­ical agents and de­manding ac­countabil­ity from them; when con­structed by non-ordi­nary speakers, ordi­nar­iness is in­ter­pret­ed by ordi­nary speakers as non-ordi­nary speakers’ stag­ing social ac­countabil­ity in gen­eral and polit­ical ac­countabil­ity in par­ticu­lar, as well as exer­cis­ing pow­er through life-world-expe­rience an­chored ac­counts.
  4. Speech commu­nities vary in terms of (a) the con­cep­tual­iza­tion of (non-) ordi­nar­iness, (b) con­texts whereby (non-)or­di­nar­iness is made an ob­ject of talk, (c) the array of dis­cur­sive strat­egies and strat­egy-spe­cific lin­guis­tic con­struc­tions, and (d) the de­grees of ex­plic­itness and re­dun­dan­cy un­der­lying the fore­grounding of ordi­nar­iness.


The ap­proach adopted in the pro­ject is an­chored in dis­course pragmat­ics, a framework in­formed by pragmat­ics, inter­ac­tional soci­olin­guis­tics, eth­nomethodolo­gy, posi­tion­ing theo­ry and func­tional ap­proaches to dis­course – and its premises of lan­guage as a so­cially situ­ated form, in­dexi­cality of commu­nica­tive ac­tion, in­ten­tion­ality of commu­nica­tive ac­tion and co­oper­ation.

The re­sults can be ap­plied to lan­guage com­pe­tence and dis­course com­pe­tence in gen­eral, but also to par­ticu­lar dis­cur­sive for­mats and their per­locu­tion­ary ef­fects, spe­cifi­cally to the un­der­standing of inter­ac­tional posi­tion­ing and the in­dex­ing of commu­nica­tive, social and polit­ical ac­countabil­ity.