The interlocutor's dilemma: The place of strategy in dialogic theory

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This essay discusses the implications of a concept of strategy for dialogical perspectives on communication. It begins by locating in the dialogical perspective a "longing for the other"that equates communication with communion or mutuality. It draws from the theory of communicative action of Jürgen Habermas to discuss strategy as the "other"of communication and explores the paradox of Habermas's idea of communicative rationality in terms of the prisoner's dilemma of game theory. The essay considers the extent to which the strategic and the dialogic are woven together in communication and argues that the communicative orientations of interlocutors at any given instance are rightfully regarded as the product of situational logics conditioned by social and cultural commitments extant in that instance. Given that the impetus for strategy stems in part from concerns about social solidarity in the face of the exigences of everyday life, the essay concludes by directing attention to the interplay of the management of social fears and the expression of otherness in shaping the course of communicative encounters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-26
Number of pages22
JournalCommunication Theory
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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