Diagnosing a school board's interactional trouble: Theorizing problem formulating

  • Tracy K
  • Muller H
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Communication, Craig (1989, 1995a, 1995b; Craig & Tracy, 1995) argues, is and should be a practical discipline: a field whose scholarly work would be helpful in improving the communicative practices it studies. Following explication of Craig's notions of practical theory and communication as a practical discipline, this paper analyzes the interactional trouble in one community's school board meetings. Drawing upon 3 theories relevant to this school board site - proposals about argumentative processes, rhetorical action, and moral conflict - we show how each theoretical lens leads to a different diagnosis of the community's ‘school board problem’. The second part of the paper inverts the analytic focus. Based on study of this school board's troubles, we critique the usefulness of the 3 theories. In the conclusion, we reflect about the often-invisible task of labeling the problem that a group is facing.

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  • Karen Tracy

  • Heidi Muller

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