Micro situations and macro structures: Natural-language communication and context [Book Review]

Foundations of Science 7 (3):255-291 (2002)
This contribution investigates the role ofcontext in natural-language communication bydifferentiating between linguistic andsociocultural contexts. It is firmly anchoredto a dialogue framework and based on arelational conception of context as astructured and interactionally organisedphenomenon. However, context is not onlyexamined from this bottom-up or microperspective, but also from a top-down or macroviewpoint as pre- and co-supposed socioculturalcontext. Here, context is not solely seen as aninteractionally organised phenomenon, butrather as a sociocultural apparatus whichstrongly influences the interpretation of microsituations.The section, micro building blocks andlocal meaning, argues for a sociopragmaticapproach to natural-language communication thusaccommodating both speech act theory andconversation analysis. It examines the questionof how linguistic and sociocultural contextsare accommodated by the micro building blocksof speech act and turn, and speaker and hearer.The results obtained are systematised in thesection, micro meets macro, and adaptedto the requirements of the dialogue act ofa plus/minus-validity claimbased on thecontextualisation of Jürgen Habermas''sconception of ratification of validityclaimadopted from this theory ofcommunicative action(1987). The definition ofa plus/minus-validity claim is furthersupplemented by the Gricean CooperativePrinciple, the ethnomethodological premise ofaccountability of social action, theconversation-analytic notion of sequentialorganisation and the interpersonal concepts offace and participation format. Validity claimsare discussed from both bottom-up and top-downperspectives stressing the dynamics of contextwith regard to both process and product, andselection and construction.
Keywords dialogue act of a plus/minus-validity claim  linguistic context  ratification of a validity claim  relational conception of context  sociocultural context
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