Communication & Medicine, Vol 12, No 1 (2015)

Third-party turns and shared knowledge: Supports and challenges to disabled people in social care and research settings

Val Williams, Sue Porter
Issued Date: 7 Jun 2016


Adopting a conversation analysis (CA) perspective, this paper explores data which include disabled people in three-party contexts, where the institutional goal is to focus on the wishes, voice and agency of the disabled person. It explores 274 occasions where a third party self-selects for a turn, during social care planning meetings and research interviews. Five broad action patterns are discussed, showing how third parties used their epistemic closeness to the disabled person in order to (1) clarify, (2) respond, (3) prompt, (4) expand and (5) challenge. The sequential consequence of these turns depended on how they were heard and taken up by other parties in the talk. The vast majority of third-party turns could be glossed as supportive to the disabled person. Third parties displayed their sensitivity towards the precise moment that they were ‘needed’ in the talk. Occasionally, there were challenges and counterinformings done by the third party, which could be analysed as ‘epistemic traps’. These moments signaled tensions between the best interests of the disabled person and the imperative to foreground their voice.

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DOI: 10.1558/cam.v12i1.30178


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