chapter  6
17 Pages

The possibility of dialogue

Descriptive approaches are concerned with pointing to an irreducible aspect of social life: its inherent dialogic character. Bakhtin is widely acknowledged as one ofthe leading proponents of this descriptive view,; although you should bear in mind that Bakhtin himself used the concept in different ways. Morson and Emerson (1989) maintained that his different usages can be distilled into two distinct senses. In one, all of language use is essentially dialogical as it orients to a listener. In the other sense, only some of language use is dialogical-when it exploits the play of contexts and voices and encourages 'social acts' of engagement between people (or authors and readers, to use Bakhtin's terms). The communication literature has typically relied on Bakhtin's first sense-that all language is essentially dialogical. Interestingly, however, some have blended his two senses. For example, Montgomery and Baxter (1998) did so when they used dialogic to contrast with dualistic and monologic views of personal relationships. For them, U[d]ialogic approaches, including relational dialectics, implicate a kind of in-the-moment, interactive multivocality, in which multiple points of view retain their integrity as they playoff each other" (Montgomery & Baxter, 1998, p. 185).