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Activity orientation in the talk of politicians, news journalists and audiences

Dickerson, P; (2000) Activity orientation in the talk of politicians, news journalists and audiences. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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The talk of politicians, news-journalists and audiences has been relatively neglected in social psychology and media studies. Within these approaches talk has been ignored altogether, treated as a symptom of cognitive or ideological processes or employed simply as a tool to gain access to `inner' meaning making' or 'outer' behaviour. This thesis explored a corpus of talk data from a discursive perspective in which the talk itself was the focus. It was argued that politicians and news-journalists could in different ways be seen to orientate to the 'truthfulness' of what they say. Thus politicians' were found to cite others to corroborate their claims, and new-journalists through their exchange of utterances attended to the co-construction their 'impartiality' and 'authoritativeness'. Politicians were also found to construct intent in terms of acting in 'the national interest' - this 'repertoire' could blame or exonerate self and others depending crucially on talk-context in which it was produced. Audiences' talk about their identity and contrasts with others was also explored. Their talk was analysed not to uncover their 'meaning-makings' or behaviour but instead to discover the activity orientations of their talk and its sensitivity to the surrounding talk context. In this way the talk of politicians, news-journalists and audiences was not seen as a symptom of some separate, 'underlying' phenomena of interest nor as a mere tool to access their 'inner' or 'outer' world - but rather it was the focus of study itself. Approached in this way talk was understood as orientated to a range of activities such as warranting, exonerating, blaming and so on. It was argued that these activities could be conceptualised as occurring within and across talk context - that is in sequences of talk. The implications of the thesis were considered for aspects of social psychology, media studies and discursive approaches.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Activity orientation in the talk of politicians, news journalists and audiences
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10125127
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