Pre-conference announcement : How to analyze authority and power in interaction

Dear IADA members and friends,

Here is a pre-conference announcement that may be of interest to some of us who are interested in the study of power or authority from a dialogical perspective. It is scheduled a few days after the IADA conference in Pittsburgh and will take place in Japan.

The Language and Social Interaction and Organizational Communication divisions of the International Communication Association present:

How to analyze authority and power in interaction

A preconference to the 2016 meeting of the International Communication Association
July 9, 2016, 9am to 5pm. Fukuoka Sea Hawk Hotel, Japan

Organized by Nicolas Bencherki (, Frédérik Matte ( and François Cooren (

Historically, studies on language and social interaction have often been criticized for their alleged incapacity to deal with questions of power, coercion and domination (Cooren, 2007). By exclusively focusing on what people do in interactional scenes, LSI scholars have indeed been accused of being ill equipped to address and analyze what makes the interactions they study possible (Reed, 2010). In response, macro-sociologists and critical scholars keep reaffirming the key role that structures, ideologies and power relationships play in the constitution of interactions. However, they rarely analyze conversations or dialogues per se, which means that interaction studies seem often immune to this kind of consideration.

For the past twenty years, however, a growing movement of scholars has decided to go beyond the sterile opposition between agency and structure by openly analyzing everything that happens to make a difference in a given interaction (Bartesaghi, 2009, 2014, Bencherki and Cooren, 2011; Benoit-Barné and Cooren, 2009; Castor and Cooren, 2006; Chiang, 2015; Cooren and Matte, 2010; Taylor and Van Every, 2011, 2014). Instead of exclusively focusing on what people do, these scholars have also taken into account other forms of agency or authorship that seem to make a difference through people’s turns of talk.

How to participate
For this preconference, we would like to encourage scholars to submit papers that explicitly (1) deal with questions of power/authority and (2) illustrate their approach by studying the detail of the interaction that organizers selected.

In other words, each participant is invited to shed his or her own original light on the same common interaction.

Any kind of perspective – Conversation Analysis (Pomerantz & Fehr, 1997; Sacks & Jefferson, 1992; Sanders, 2005), Actor Network Theory (ANT) (Latour, 1986; Law, 1991), CCO (Communicative Constitution of Organization) (Benoit-Barné & Cooren, 2009; Bourgoin & Bencherki, 2015; Taylor & Van Every, 2014), Critical Discourse Analysis (Fairclough, 2013; Fairclough & Wodak, 1997; van Dijk, 1993), ethnography of communication (Carbaugh & Boromisza-Habashi, 2015; Hymes, 1964; Kalou & Sadler-Smith, 2015), etc. – is welcome as long as these two requirements are met.

This preconference could be of interest to Language and Social Interaction and Organizational Communication scholars, but representatives of other divisions are, of course, also welcome.

Submit a 500-word abstracts including an analysis outline on the preconference website by 18 January, at

Responses will be sent by 15 February.



The interaction: “Under whose authority?”
Kim Davis denies marriage licenses to LGBT couples
You may have heard of Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Kentucky, county clerk who has defied court orders in her refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She has gained quite a bit of fame, either as a hero to conservative supporters, or on the contrary in a very negative way among same-sex marriage supporters and within the LGTB community.

We propose, as a common empirical material to our discussions, that participants to the preconference use their own analytical approach to analyze the following news excerpt (we apologize any advertisement that may appear at the beginning of the video):
You can download the excerpt’s full transcript here.

What sense would you make of this excerpt? What does the theoretical or analytical approach that you adopt reveal about what went on in Kim Davis’ office on that day? What may other perspectives be missing or leaving aside? What makes a difference, or what should we take into account, in order to explain the situation we are witnessing in the video? Is this video even enough to make any sense at all of the events? Let us know!

In addition to briefly presenting a theoretical and analytical framework, your abstract should also include a few elements or an outline of an analysis of the excerpt. Show us how this excerpt may be studied differently thanks to the concepts, tools or lenses that your framework provides.

Bartesaghi, M. (2009). How the therapist does authority: Six strategies for substituting client accounts in the session. Communication & Medicine, 6(1), 15-25.

Bartesaghi, M. (2014). Coordination: Examining Weather as a “Matter of Concern.” Communication Studies, 65(5), 535-557.

Bencherki, N., & Cooren, F. (2011). To have or not to be: the possessive constitution of organization. Human Relations, 64(12), 1579-1607.

Benoit-Barné, C., & Cooren, F. (2009). The Accomplishment of Authority Through Presentification: How Authority Is Distributed Among and Negotiated by Organizational Members. Management Communication Quarterly, 23(1), 5-31.

Bourgoin, A., & Bencherki, N. (2015). The performance of authority in organizations. Presented at the European Group for Organization Studies, Athens, Greece.

Carbaugh, D., & Boromisza-Habashi, D. (2015). Ethnography of Communication. In The International Encyclopedia of Language and Social Interaction. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Retrieved from

Castor, T., & Cooren, F. (2006). Organizations as Hybrid forms of Life: The Implications of the Selection of Agency in Problem Formulation. Management Communication Quarterly, 19(4), 570-600.

Chiang, S.-Y. (2015). Power and Discourse. In K. Tracy, C. Ilie, & T. Sandel (Eds.), The International Encyclopedia of Language and Social Interaction. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Retrieved from

Cooren, F. (Ed.). (2007). Interacting and organizing: analyses of a management meeting. Mahwah, N.J: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Cooren, F., & Matte, F. (2010). For a constitutive pragmatics: Obama, Médecins Sans Frontières and the measuring stick. Pragmatics and Society, 1(1), 9-31.

Fairclough, N. (2013). Critical Discourse Analysis: The Critical Study of Language. Routledge.
Fairclough, N., & Wodak, R. (1997). Critical discourse analysis. In T. A. van Dijk (Ed.), Discourse as social interaction (pp. 258-284). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Hymes, D. (1964). Introduction: Toward Ethnographies of Communication. American Anthropologist, 66(6), 1-34.

Kalou, Z., & Sadler-Smith, E. (2015). Using Ethnography of Communication in Organizational Research. Organizational Research Methods, 18(4), 629.

Latour, B. (1986). The Powers of Association. In J. Law (Ed.), Power, action and belief: a new sociology of knowledge? (pp. 264-280). London: Routledge.

Law, J. (1991). A Sociology of monsters: essays on power, technology, and domination. New York: Routledge.
Pomerantz, A., & Fehr, B. J. (1997).

Conversation Analysis: An Approach to the Study of Social Action as Sense Making Practices. In T. A. van Dijk (Ed.), Discourse as Social Interaction (pp. 64-91). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Reed, M. (2010). Is Communication Constitutive of Organization? Management Communication Quarterly, 24(1), 151-157.

Sacks, H., & Jefferson, G. (1992). Lectures on conversation. Oxford, UK?; Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell.

Sanders, R. E. (2005). Preface to section II: Conversation analysis. In K. L. Fitch & R. E. Sanders (Eds.), Handbook of language and social interaction (pp. 67-70). Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Retrieved from

Taylor, J. R., & Van Every, E. J. (2011). The situated organization: Studies in the pragmatics of communication research. New York, NY: Routledge.

Taylor, J. R., & Van Every, E. J. (2014). When Organization Fails: Why Authority Matters. New York, NY: Routledge.

Van Dijk, T. A. (1993). Principles of Critical Discourse Analysis. Discourse & Society, 4(2), 249-283.