Talking Problems

Studies of Discursive Construction

By Richard Buttny

Subjects: Communication
Series: SUNY series in Communication Studies
Hardcover : 9780791458952, 224 pages, January 2004

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Table of contents



Part I: Tellings in Talking Problems

1. Ascribing Problems and Positionings in Talking Student Teenage Parent

2. Clients' and Therapist's Joint Construction of the Clients' Problems

3. Therapeutic Humor in Retelling the Clients' Tellings

Part II: Reportings in Talking Problems

4. Reported Speech in Talking Race on Campus

5. Demanding Respect: The Uses of Reported Speech in Discursive Constructions of Interracial Contact, with Princess L. Williams

6. Discursive Constructions of Racial Boundaries and Self-Segregation on Campus

7. Conclusion




Subject Index

Name Index

Presents a theory of discursive co-construction of problems, or how characters are portrayed in the telling of events.


Using discursive constructionism and conversation analysis, Talking Problems examines how participants orient to, communicate about, and act toward events as problems. The book examines a series of problems, including teenage parenthood in high school, interpersonal and family relationships during therapy, and racism and interracial relations on a university campus. These problems are taken as joint constructions and the interest is in how participants' versions of events get heard, what unfolds as a consequence of this, how participants position themselves, and what social realities are thereby created.

Richard Buttny is Professor of Communication and Rhetorical Studies at Syracuse University and the author of Social Accountability in Communication.