Per Linell (2003) What is Dialogism
This reading is on the web in various places so try typing it into google to find it.
Really we wanted to look at Linell’s book ‘Rethinking Language, Mind and World Dialogically’ but a book is a bit long for a reading group and this free text has the key concepts. For the first meeting of the group we wanted to establish the core concepts of ‘dialogism’ or ‘dialogic theory’ as relevant to education and Linell is a good start. Here is the opening text to give an idea:
What is dialogism? Aspects and elements of a dialogical approach to language, communication and cognition
The purpose of this text is to summarise in a concise manner some aspects and elements of a ”dialogical” or ”dialogist” approach to language, communication and cognition.
1. A ﬁrst approximation: Dialogism is not one coherent school, or theory, not even anything that “dialogists” of different extractions would agree upon. Nevertheless, I shall treat it here as a fairly coherent theoretical framework. Only towards the end, in sections 11 and 12, shall I dwell upon some of its internal controversies, dilemmas and challenges.
”Dialogism” is a name for a bundle, or combination, of theoretical and epistemological assumptions about human action, communication and cognition. There are different opinions about exactly which these assumptions should be, but I would go for the following abstract points (§ 1.1-3, but see also § 1.4 and below).
1.1. Interactionism: Communication and cognition always involves interaction with others (other persons, other systems, other dimensions of one´s self etc). Such interactions involve interdependencies that cannot be reduced to outer cause-effect relations. The basic constituents of discourse are interactions (exchanges, inter-acts), rather than speech acts or utterances by autonomous speakers (authors, communicators). (Cf. § 4 below, on the role of the other; co-authorship of situated meaning.)
1.2. Contextualism: Situated discourse is interdependent with contexts. One cannot make sense of discourse outside of its relevant contexts, and, at the same time, these contexts would not be what they are in the absence of the (particular) discourse that takes place within them. Contexts include co-texts (also with non-verbal aspects), situations, activity types, interlocutors´ interactional biographies and cultural knowledge (the latter including language, encyclopedia, discourses on a Foucaultian sense).
1.3. Communicative constructionism: The meaning of discourse and texts is (partly) accomplished in and through active sense-making of the linguistic and communicative processes themselves (dialogos ”in and through words”); communication is not a transfer of ready-made thoughts. Knowledge is largely communicatively constructed, in the sociohistorical genesis of knowledge, language, communicative genres (routines) etc.