Discourse Studies 17 (6):724-751 (2015)

How do politicians engage with and offer to assist their constituents: the people who vote them into power? We address the question by analysing a corpus of 80 interactions recorded at the office of a Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom, and comprising telephone calls between constituents and the MP’s clerical ‘caseworkers’ as well as face-to-face encounters with MPs in their fortnightly ‘surgeries’. The data were transcribed, and then analysed using conversation analysis, focusing on the design and placement of offers of assistance. We identified three types of offers within a longer ‘offering’ sequence: ‘proposal offers’, which typically appear first in any offering sequence, in which politicians and caseworkers make proposals to help their constituents using formats that request permission to do so, or check that the constituent does indeed want help ; ‘announcement offers’, which appear second, and indicate that something has been decided and confirm the intention to act and ‘request offers’, which appear third, and take for form ‘let me do X’. Request offers indicate that the offer is available but cannot be completed until the current conversation is closed; they also appear in environments in which the constituent reissues their problems and appears dissatisfied with the offers so far. The article contributes to what we know about making offers in institutional settings, as well as shedding the first empirical light on the workings of the constituency office: the site of engagement between everyday members of the public and their elected representatives.
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DOI 10.1177/1461445615602376
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References found in this work BETA

Lectures on Conversation.Harvey Sacks & Gail Jefferson - 1995 - Human Studies 18 (2):327-336.
Establishing Joint Decisions in a Dyad.Melisa Stevanovic - 2012 - Discourse Studies 14 (6):779-803.

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Prompting Offers of Assistance in Interaction.Michael Haugh - 2017 - Pragmatics and Society 8 (2):183-207.

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