Discourse research that intervenes in the quality and safety of care practices

Discourse and Communication 4 (1):68-86 (2010)
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Drawing on work done in the area of health services research, this article outlines a view of discourse analysis that approaches discourse as a co-accomplished process involving researcher and research-participant. Without losing sight of the analytical-critical-reflexive moments that have typified discourse analytical endeavours, this article explores a form of DA that moves from discourse as object to be collected and processed away from where it is practised, towards discourse as dynamically emerging reality shared by practitioner-participants and researchers, and as flexible means to intervene in the quality and safety of care practices. The article begins with highlighting the productive potential of discourse research in health. The ethics informing this mode of DA, the article goes on to explain, is interested and trustful ‘entanglement’ with those who populate this field of practice and structure it with discourse. Elsewhere referred to as ‘experience-based enquiry’, the initiative to reframe discourse research as a mode of intervention involves keeping practitioners’ interpretations and analysts’ questions, critiques and conclusions in tension. The article argues that this approach capitalizes on the intrinsically reflexive, dialogic and emergent nature of discourse. To illustrate these issues, the article presents two case studies drawn from recent projects that have manifested these researcher and practitioner-participant dynamics. The article concludes that, as emergent practice, the analysis of discourse benefits from entanglement with the people and the contexts where discourse is produced. Here, analysis vacillates between a feedback device that enables both research participants and researchers to re-appraise their and each other’s practices, and a knowledge production device that generalizes about these practices and the changes to these practices that result from the research.



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Philosophical Investigations.Ludwig Wittgenstein - 1953 - New York, NY, USA: Wiley-Blackwell. Edited by G. E. M. Anscombe.
Liquid Modernity.Zygmunt Bauman - 2000 - Polity Press ; Blackwell.

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