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Why Do You Ask?The Function of Questions in Institutional Discourse$
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Alice Freed and Susan Ehrlich

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195306897

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195306897.001.0001

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Questioning in Meetings

Questioning in Meetings

Participation and Positioning

Chapter:
10 Questioning in Meetings
Source:
Why Do You Ask?
Author(s):

Cecilia E. Ford

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195306897.003.0010

This chapter, written by Cecilia Ford, investigates interactions in the workplace, focusing on workplace meetings. The investigation considers questions produced by the meetings' “nonprimary” speakers, that is, “persons with no current special hold on the floor.” Ford argues that questions asked by such participants can function to shift local participation dynamics. She demonstrates that when a nonprimary speaker asks a question, the primary speaker temporarily cedes the floor, creating an opportunity for the questioner to speak again or for other nonprimary participants to speak. Ford explains that this kind of questioning “manifests a particular form of power; it shifts the participation dynamics at given moments … by projecting a further turn” for the questioner or by opening the floor to others. Ford thus documents ways that questioning allows participants to claim opportunities to speak, thereby positioning themselves as knowledgeable and consequential in workplace meetings.

Keywords:   questioning, workplace meetings, nonprimary speakers, participation dynamics, power, conversational floor, turns‐at‐talk, question function

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