The Institution as Context

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Tara E. Tarpey


Over the past two decades, institutional discourse has become an area of great import in the field of discourse analysis. Institutionality is rife in everyday interactions, occurring in workplaces, homes, and schools, as well as both face-to-face and telephone or virtual interactions (Drew & Heritage, 1992). Essentially, whenever an individual represents an institution, institutionality may color the discourse. In their seminal book, Talk at Work, Drew and Heritage (1992) define institutional talk as orienting to goals, constraining contributions, and shaping inferences. Following Drew and Heritage‟s framework, Waring (2005) identifies peer tutoring as a “privileged site for observing” institutional interactions, as “doing tutoring” is subject to goal orientation, constraints on allowable contributions, and unique inferential patterns (pp. 141-142). This piece focuses on one peer tutoring sequence to exemplify both how and why institutionality is oriented to in talk.

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