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What we learnt at the excellent Symposium on Discourse at/on/as work in Vienna

by on December 18, 2013

We are back and, after delivering three presentations in four days, I can safely say that we are now ‘weary women’.

This was in fact a quote from the title of one of our talks at the WU Discourse Symposium in Vienna. It (obviously) doesn’t actually refer to us but to the visual representations of the Wearies (an acronym for Working, Entrepreneurial, Active Retirees that was coined a year or two ago by a UK think tank). The title of our talk was ‘Weary Women: Re-constructing retirement in the 21st century’ and we’ve uploaded the slides onto the Past Seminars and Invited Talks page of this blog.

The Symposium was excellent: brilliantly and generously hosted by Professor Gerlinde Mautner of the WU, and with many outstanding presentations from academics across a range of disciplines. All the research presented nevertheless focused on analysing language and other meaning-making systems (signs, buildings, visual images) within the topic of work.

Because of their topic or methodological relevance to our own research, we particularly enjoyed talks by:

Alexandre Duchene on the dark side of multi-lingualism including the sort of (very limited) jobs eg in call centres that are available to older women who speak several languages but live in deprived economic areas;

Christian Heath who used video data of auctioneers to show how gesture and other forms of bodily conduct are articulated with talk to accomplish a highly specialised and contingent form of organisational activity;

Joanna Thornborrow on using Twitter data to explore institutional engagement between UK university admissions teams and prospective students during Clearing;

Ian Clarke and Ruth Wodak on using discourse analysis to show the repertoire of discursive strategies, or goal-directed behaviours, that are deployed in teams to create shared views around issues.

We are very grateful to Gerlinde Mautner for inviting us to present our work at the symposium. It was a pleasure to have the luxury of 3 days away in Vienna in such excellent and stimulating company.

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