Dialogic Matters: Social and Material Challenges for Dialogue in 21st Century


In his 2004 essay, Bruno Latour differentiates between 'matters of concern' and 'matters of fact,' advocating for a focus on the former. As Latour explains, 'matters of concern' are built up or constructed through various sociomaterial mediations, which he describes as agencies, giving to this term a different twist by comparison to analytical action theory, for which intentionality was the crucial element (Davidson, 1963;  Danto, 1973). Similarly, Cooren (2015; 2018) advocates for a 'relational ontology' perspective that acknowledges the social and material aspects of the communicative constitution of the world (Caronia & Chieregato, 2016). In a perspective centered on capabilities (with Nussbaum, 2011, or Sen, 2004b), researchers could place a special emphasis on a more detailed discussion of material and social conditions of dialogue. 

Descriptively, dialogue can be said to take place when two or more beings interact. As we know, many different methodological frames can be used to pursue a descriptive goal: tools from linguistic analysis, conversation analysis (Mondada, 2017), dialogue analysis (Weigand, 2009), rhetorical analysis (Walton, 1989), discourse analysis (Gee, 2017), phenomenological description (Arnett, 2017; Merleau-Ponty, 1965), ethnography (Noy, 2017), etc. From a normative perspective, the concept of dialogue is used as a challenge to specific circumstances of intersubjectivity (Linell, 2017). It ranges from religious perspectives (Buber, 1923;1996) to a reflexive undertaking of value involvements by the dialogue partners (Létourneau, 2014, 2017). A critical perspective would also discuss dialogue issues in terms of obfuscation, abusive framings or power relationships, whether by referring to Marx, Foucault, Adorno, Butler or others.

In interrogating 'dialogic matters,' this conference especially (but not exclusively) invites papers that explore the various interconnections of dialogue, matter, matters of concern, and materiality. What are the specific social and material conditions which actually permit or facilitate dialogue? The conference will explore issues including the relevance and potential impact of various forms of dialogue on agency and action, the role of dialogue in addressing societal (Noy, 2015), political (Săftoiu, Neagu & Măda, 2015), cultural (Grein & Weigand, 2007), medical (Fatigante et al., 2016), environmental (Castor, 2018), scientific (Livnat, 2012) and technological (Caronia, 2015) 'matters of concern'. Papers could also discuss dialogue and its implications for constructing and de-constructing 'others', dialogue and the posthuman turn, crises in and about dialogue, and dialogue in the processes of learning, and of social and personal transformation. 

Proposals from any academic discipline addressing questions related to dialogue and dialogue studies are welcome. Proposals may also address (but are not limited to) any of the following sub-themes:

  • Discussing and/or applying descriptive methods to dialogue, e.g. conversation analysis, linguistic analysis, critical theory, ethnography, etc, in different contexts: pedagogical, mediation purposes, etc.
  • Relational ontology: interactions, relationality and materiality; human, machine, and technology interactions; technologies of dialogue
  • Dialogue and 'othering': the role of dialogue in constituting self, other, and group identity/ies.
  • Dialogue and power in constituting marginalized groups, or as a mechanism to hinder social transformation
  • Case studies permitting the discussion of material and social conditions enabling or preventing dialogue
  • Materiality, space and place: nature and posthuman dialogue; the communicative constitution of geographies; interaction and environmental matters; exploring the terrain and potentials of 'smart cities'
  • Dialogue in and about crisis: challenges in dialogue; dialogue and (un)natural disasters; dialogue in mediating crises and conflicts
  • Dialogue, learning, and transformation: dialogue and its role in transformations of identity and relationship; dialogue and learning in and out of educational institutions; transformative approaches in education

Extended abstracts and panel proposals are due by February 15, 2019. For additional details, please refer to submissions instructions.

Arnett, R. C. (2017). Language as the originative house of dialogic ethics. In E. Weigand (Ed.), The Routledge handbook of language and dialogue (pp. 307-317). New York: Routledge.

Buber, M. (1923; 1996). I and Thou. New York, Simon & Shuster.

Caronia, L. (2015). Totem and taboo: The embarrassing epistemic work of things in the research setting. Qualitative Research, 15(2), 141-165.

Caronia, L., & Chieregato, A. (2016) Polyphony in a ward: Tracking professional theories in members’ dialogues. Language and dialogue, 6(3), 395 – 421.

Castor, T. (2018). Climate risks as organizational problems: Constructing agency and action. New York: Peter Lang.

Cooren, F. (2015). In medias res: Communication, existence, and materiality. Communication Research and Practice, 1(4), 1–15.

Cooren, F. (2018). Materializing communication: Making the case for a relational ontology. Journal of Communication, 68, 278–288.

Danto, A. C. (1973) Analytical Philosophy of Action. Cambridge, Cambridge University.

Davidson, D. (1963) Actions, reasons and causes. Journal of Philosophy, 60, 685-700.

Fatigante, M., Alby, F., Zucchermaglio, C., & Baruzzo, M. (2016). Formulating treatment recommendation as a logical consequence of the diagnosis in post-surgical oncological visits. Patient Education & Counseling, 99(6), 878-887.

Gee, J. P. (2017). Discourse analysis. In E. Weigand (Ed.), The Routledge handbook of language and dialogue (pp. 62-77). New York: Routledge.

Grein, M. (2017). How culture affects language and dialogue. In E. Weigand (Ed.), The Routledge handbook of language and dialogue (pp. 347-366). New York: Routledge.

Grein, M., & Weigand, E. (Eds.). (2007). Dialogue and culture. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Latour, B. (2004). Why has critique run out of steam? From matters of fact to matters of concern. Critical Inquiry, 30(2), 225–248.

Létourneau, A. (2014). An example of the plurality of levels of communication ethics analysis in a newspaper article. In R. C. Arnett & P. Arneson, Philosophy of Communication Ethics: Alterity and the Other (pp. 233-252). Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Létourneau, A. (2017). The Bakhtin case. Language and Dialogue, 7(2), 236–252.

Linell, P. (2017). Intersubjectivity in dialogue. In E. Weigand (Ed.), The Routledge handbook of language and dialogue (pp. 109-126). New York: Routledge.

Livnat, Z. (2012). Dialogue, Science and Academic Writing, Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Merleau-Ponty, M. (1965). Phenomenology of Perception. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Mondada, L. (2017). Conversation analysis. In E. Weigand (Ed.), The Routledge handbook of language and dialogue (pp. 26-45). New York: Routledge.

Noy, C. (2015). Thank you for dying for our country: Commemorative texts and performances in Jerusalem. New York: Oxford University Press.

Noy, C. (2017). Moral discourse and argumentation in the public sphere: Museums and their visitors. Discourse, Context & Media, 16, 39-47.

Nussbaum, M. (2011). Creating capabilities. The human development approach. Boston, Belknap at Harvard University Press.

Orletti, F., & Fatigante, M. (2013). Doctor-patient interaction and the challenge of multi-culturality. Salute e società, 1EN, 19-21.

Săftoiu R., Neagu M.-I., Măda S. (eds.) (2015). Persuasive Games in Political and Professional Dialogue. Amsterdam:John Benjamins.

Sen, A. (2004b). Capabilities, lists, and public reason: Continuing the conversation. Feminist Economics, 10 (3), 77-80.

Walton, D. (1989). Dialogue theory for critical thinking. Argumentation, 3, 169-184.

Weigand, E. (2009). Language as Dialogue. From Rules to Principles of Probability. Amsterdam, John Benjamins.


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