Relational sequences in workplace genres

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


Although participants in workplace encounters are primarily concerned with the accomplishment of certain workplace tasks, they nevertheless also orient to relational concerns. Research into naturally-occurring office conversations shows that such a relational orientation may be displayed in various types of interactional units, from longer stretches of talk down to individual turns. This article investigates smaller units of relationally-oriented talk referred to as 'relational sequences' or 'relational turns', and attempts to account for these phenomena within task-oriented talk by combining a genre-theoretic approach with a conversation analytical description of the local management of talk-in-interaction. Relational sequences occur most frequently in making arrangements; and particular types of relational turns are identified within procedural and requesting discourse. The sequential analysis of selected extracts shows that the placement of relational sequences is extremely flexible. While some relational sequences occur as optional task evaluations towards the end of an encounter, they also occur as pre-sequences or side sequences between, or even during, various obligatory phases of the genre. The production of accounts occurred frequently within and as a trigger for relational talk, and such accounts, as well as other turn and sequence types, were found to perform a variety of relational functions, including face protection and identity negotiation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1405 - 1428
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2004

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 602008 English studies

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