Sociology Index


An utterance is the smallest unit of speech. Utterances do not exist in written language, only their representations do. Utterances that are portrayed in writing are planned, in contrast to utterances in improvised spoken language.

Utterances are units of speech that are examined by conversation analysis in a stream of work within ethnomethodology. Conversational analysis and ethnomethodology regard utterances as tools for the performance of activities, and not merely as things that stand in for other things. Moreover, they regard all utterances as tools and not merely those, such as "I pronounce thee man and wife," that Austin has called "performatives."

Studies have indicated that this development of utterances is affected by the parent, adult, or guardian's socioeconomic status. The development of utterances in children is facilitated by parents, adults, or any other guardian the child has growing up.

Conversational Planning and Self-Serving Utterances: The Manipulation of Topical and Functional Structures in Dyadic Interaction.

M. L. McLaughlin, A. D. Louden, J. L. Cashion, D. M. Altendorf, K. T. Baaske, S. W. Smith, University of Southern California, Journal of Language and Social Psychology, Vol. 4, No. 3-4. Thirty-two pairs of strangers were videotaped during a 15-minute interaction during which one of the pair, acting as a 'confederate' of the experimenters, inserted a pre-designated 'boast' into the conversation.

Male and female confederates were observed to differ significantly on some aspects of their approach to the task: Women were significantly more likely to be calculating, top-down planners, while males were more likely to offer boasts as 'answers' to unprompted questions from their partners. Although there were trends for women to use more reciprocal questions and more topical control strategies than men, the obtained differences were not significant.

Problems with and Alternatives to the Use of Coding Schemes in Research on Counseling. Michael J. Patton, University of Missouri-Columbia, The Counseling Psychologist, Vol. 17, No. 3, 490-506.

The uses and effects of coding schemes in research on counseling process and outcome are analyzed. It is concluded that the interpretation1 of counseling events in terms of the categories of a coding scheme attenuates at adequate description of those events whenever the researcher uses the coder `s interpretation of events as if it were veridical with the participants' inter prctation.

Conversation analysis and ethnomethodology are proposed as alternate methods of data collection. These methods rely on detailed observation of the sequential utterances of counselor and client in order to identify the structures of their interaction that lend the encounter its perceived character for the participants. Thus, the context of meaning created by the participants through their relationship of interaction is made topical in the analysis of the ongoing even is of the interview.