Language in Action: Psychological Models of Conversation, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Language in Action

Psychological Models of Conversation, 1st Edition

By William Turnbull


248 pages

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pub: 2003-01-30
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Face-to-face conversation between two or more people is a universal form, and perhaps the basic form, of social interaction. It is the primary site of social interaction in all cultures and the place where social and cultural meaning takes shape. Face-to-face conversation between children and parents can also be an important context for social and cognitive development. Given the universality, frequency and importance of conversation in social life, a psychological model of conversation is required for an understanding of the central issues in social and developmental psychology. This book provides such a model.

Language in Action presents a critical examination of four models of conversation: the Code model based on Chomsky's linguistic views; the Speech Act model of Austin and Searle; the Inferential model of Grice, and the Conversation Analytic model of Sacks and Schegloff. It also considers the Brown and Levinson model of politeness in conversation. Using many examples from natural talk and drawing on the positive aspects of the reviewed models, Turnbull proposes a new Social Pragmatic model of conversation as social interaction. He also describes the research paradigm of Social Pragmatics that experimental psychologists can use to study conversation. This book will be invaluable for advanced students in psychology, sociology, language and linguistics and communication. It will also make fascinating and lively reading for anyone wanting a greater understanding of this fundamental form of social interaction.


'The organization is excellent and I very much liked the insistent use of real talk, collected and properly transcribed by the author. This gives the book not only a cohesion and immediacy, but also applies the strong (and, to my mind) entirely appropriate test of real-world exchanges to approaches which sometimes slip by on armchair examples. A real plus.' - Charles Antaki, Department of Social Sciences, Loughborough University

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Conversing Organism. The Code Model. The Speech Act Model. The Inferential Model. The Interpersonal Dimension. Conversation Analysis. Social Pragmatics. Summary and Conclusions.

About the Author

William Turnbull is Associate Chair for Psychology and is based at the Simon Fraser University in Canada. He is an expert in the field of social interaction and conversation.

About the Series

International Series in Social Psychology

This series provides a showcase of original contributions of the highest quality as well as thorough reviews of existing theories suitable for advanced students and researchers.

Many will be useful as course texts for higher level study; applied topics are well represented and social psychology is defined broadly to include other psychological areas like social development, or the social psychology of abnormal behaviour.

A reflection of contemporary social psychology, the series is a rich source of information for dissertations, new research projects and seminars.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Social Psychology