Debates on social and professional responsibility have proliferated in recent years both in the public sphere (e.g. in connection with corporate responsibility reports) and in more local practices (e.g. as manifested in the publication of in-house codes of conduct). However, there is little academic research on professional discourse which systematically addresses the ways in which responsibility relations are construed in language use.
The book contains a number of case studies focusing on different professional settings: media, health care and social work. The types of data examined range from globally available mass-consumed discourse (such as news agency dispatches) to local and essentially private face-to-face encounters (e.g. counselling sessions). The studies examine different linguistic features (such as reported speech in written texts and backchannelling in spoken encounters) and different types of meanings (such as agency and causality). The studies draw on different methodological approaches (mainly pragmatics, conversation analysis and (critical) discourse analysis). A common thread running through the contributions is that responsibility is not a stable quality of people or institutions, but a dynamic and variable resource that language users negotiate in interaction.
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