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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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“Is That Right?”Questions and Questioning as Control Devices in the Workplace

“Is That Right?”Questions and Questioning as Control Devices in the Workplace

Chapter:
9 “Is That Right?”Questions and Questioning as Control Devices in the Workplace
Source:
Why Do You Ask?
Author(s):

Janet Holmes

Tina Chiles

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195306897.003.0009

This chapter, written by Janet Holmes and Tina Chiles, examines the frequency, distribution, and function of questions in New Zealand workplace meetings. It reviews previous work on questions, describes the methodology used to collect the workplace discourse discussed in this analysis, and addresses what counts as a question for the study. The authors use a taxonomy of question functions to compare the frequency and distribution of questions in New Zealand workplace meetings to their distribution in previous studies of American casual conversations between friends. With this as a background, the chapter then examines the ways in which managers use questions as control devices in workplace meetings. The chapter concludes by reflecting on the contribution of controlling questions at the microlevel, in the detailed dynamics of managing meeting discourse, and also at the macrolevel of instantiating power relations in specific communities of practice.

Keywords:   workplace discourse, workplace interaction, questions as control devices, taxonomy of questions, sociopragmatic functions of questions, managing meetings

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