1st Edition

Dilemmas of Discourse Controversies about the Sociological Interpretation of Language

By Anthony Wootton Copyright 1975
    204 Pages
    by Routledge

    First Published in 1975, Dilemmas of Discourse brings together strands of arguments from disciplines like sociology, anthropology, linguistics and philosophy to explore the debate around the issue of deciding the meaning of what people may say. Can the meaning of words be described satisfactorily as a bundle of semantic features? Can speech acts such as promising and insulting be described as only occurring when a particular form of speech is used in a particular kind of context? Do sociolinguistic rules have a bearing on the problem of extracting the meaning of what people say? What sorts of implications does ethnomethodology have for areas of traditional sociological interest in language such as vocabularies of motives or the relation of language used to social class? These are some of the questions which the author sets out to answer with clarity and carefulness uncharacteristic of much writing on this subject.

     In general, Dr Wootton defends the ethnomethodological position, and when relating these arguments to developments in mainstream sociology responds to certain criticisms made of recent ethnomethodological writing. But he is also at pains to point out the necessity of subjecting ethnomethodological interpretations to explicit forms of evaluation and suggests some ways in which this might be done.  This is a must read for students of sociology.

    Preface 1. Language, Concepts and Descriptions 2. Components of Meaning 3. Rules, Norms and Speech Acts 4. Ethnomethodology 5. Language and Social Class: Vocabularies of Motive 6. Sociology, Language and Description Notes Bibliography Index


    Anthony Wootton (at the time of the first publication of the book) was Lecturer in Sociology, University of York.