Special Issue "Institutional Discourse and the Covid-19 Pandemic: Challenges and Opportunities"

A special issue of Languages (ISSN 2226-471X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 June 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Anne Bannink
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Amsterdam Center of Language and Communication (ACLC), University of Amsterdam, Spuistraat 134, 1012VB Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Interests: (institutional) discourse studies, teacher education, second/foreign language learning, pragmatics, anthropology of education, media communication, doctor-patient interaction and intercultural communication
Dr. Jet Van Dam
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Amsterdam Center of Language and Communication (ACLC), University of Amsterdam, Spuistraat 134, 1012VB Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Interests: ecologies of L(2) learning, institutional discourse, dynamic models of discourse processing, ethnography of education, teacher education, ethnomethodology, footing and participation frameworks

Special Issue Information

Dear colleagues,

The Covid-19 pandemic that has held the world in its grip since the spring of 2020 has introduced major shifts in the ways we communicate with others – in informal everyday encounters as well as in formal institutional or workplace settings. Lockdowns have required people – sometimes whole families in far from ideal circumstances – to work from home for prolonged periods of time. From the moment face-to-face communication with non-household members became impossible, the search for digital alternatives and technical innovations to facilitate remote communication took on a new urgency. Since new tools had to be introduced at very short notice, there was little time to pause and reflect on the practical, social and cultural impact of these technical innovations on the lived experiences of people interacting in institutional environments.

This issue aims to investigate the findings of experts and users with respect to the different forms of remote or technologically-mediated communication that were adopted on the spot. There are important questions that need to be addressed. Has the pandemic-induced tech revolution opened new vistas with respect to the way specific tasks in schools, offices, hospitals, and other workplace ecologies can be performed? Or has it mainly been a source of concern, anxiety or frustration because it turned out to be very difficult to effectively compensate in online settings for the lack of shared space and body language feedback in engaging participants? And perhaps more importantly, since both positive and negative effects may apply simultaneously:  what types of tasks/people in what situations typically do – or do not – respond well to online communication formats?

This Special Issue seeks to draw together research from a variety of theoretical angles and methodological approaches to the study of institutional discourse data. These range from, but are not limited to, conversation analysis, interactional sociolinguistics, pragmatics, (critical) discourse analysis, ethnography of communication and linguistic anthropology. We welcome original data-based research articles, methodological articles, and perspective articles from researchers investigating the effects of the Covid-19 epidemic on language use and communication in a wide range of institutional settings in the field of e.g. education, medicine, politics, traditional/social media, and business.

We request that, prior to submitting a manuscript, interested authors initially submit a proposed title and an abstract of 400-600 words summarizing their intended contribution. Please send it to the guest editors ([email protected]; [email protected]) or to /Languages/ editorial office ([email protected]). Abstracts will be reviewed by the guest editors for the purposes of ensuring proper fit within the scope of the special issue. Full manuscripts will undergo double-blind peer-review.

The tentative completion schedule is as follows:

  • Abstract submission deadline: 1 November 2020
  • Notification of abstract acceptance: 1 December 2020
  • Full manuscript deadline: 1 June 2021

Dr. Anne Bannink
Dr. Jet Van Dam
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Languages is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • institutional discourse
  • technology
  • computer-mediated communication
  • multi-person discourse
  • context
  • interaction

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Article
Welcome Back, We’ve Missed You! Humanized Business Communication in Shop Window Messages during Early 2020-Lockdown
Languages 2021, 6(2), 104; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages6020104 - 10 Jun 2021
Viewed by 441
Abstract
This paper focuses on the way in which small and medium-sized businesses in Flanders adapted communication with their customers during the economic lockdown in March–May 2020. It documents, more specifically, how shops tried to maintain, re-establish, or even re-invent communication with their customers [...] Read more.
This paper focuses on the way in which small and medium-sized businesses in Flanders adapted communication with their customers during the economic lockdown in March–May 2020. It documents, more specifically, how shops tried to maintain, re-establish, or even re-invent communication with their customers during this two-month period. Based on pictures of shop windows in a Flemish city, we analyze the (semi-)commercial messages that appeared in this setting during this period. This analysis adopts an interdisciplinary perspective, in which a cognitive linguistic approach is integrated with analyses and practical advices by marketing agencies. Despite their orientation towards distinct, theoretical and practical goals, both approaches share an analytical interest in mapping participants and their mutual relationship as part of a communicative interaction. In the period of economic lockdown, marketers urged shop owners to ‘humanize’ their business strategy by downplaying content-related issues in favor of maximal social outreach towards customers. Considering this advice, it was hypothesized that under these circumstances participants in commercial transactions would be construed much more prominently, presenting themselves and each other as unprecedented empathetic business personas. Much of our data comply with this expectation, thus providing empirical evidence of a subjectified communicative ground, in which both buyer and seller personas figure with augmented prominence as parts of the object of conceptualization. Messages include, among other things, expressions of empathy, solidarity, combativity, but also creativity and humor thus incorporating a new type of humanized business communication. With respect to the analysis of marketing strategies, the collected data at the same time instantiate and legitimize marketers’ communication advice about humanizing one’s business exchange. Full article
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Article
Networking in the Time of COVID
Languages 2021, 6(2), 92; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages6020092 - 20 May 2021
Viewed by 420
Abstract
This study examines how during COVID professionals in the financial sector in Hong Kong experienced adaptations to previous ways of networking and what the material outcomes were. Becoming acquainted traditionally relies heavily on face-to-face interaction to advance and cement feelings of trust that [...] Read more.
This study examines how during COVID professionals in the financial sector in Hong Kong experienced adaptations to previous ways of networking and what the material outcomes were. Becoming acquainted traditionally relies heavily on face-to-face interaction to advance and cement feelings of trust that eventually lead to successfully concluded transactions. Using linguistic ethnography, I interviewed 36 professionals about networking during COVID. For all three aspects of networking (creating, cultivating, and utilizing relationships for attaining professional goals), participants indicated significant changes as embodied co-present interactions all but ceased and were replaced by computer-mediated communication, including video platforms such as Zoom. Many, but not all, participants indicated that they had made either no new, or a greatly decreased number of new professional acquaintances, compared to pre-COVID times. The cues that would be present in face-to-face interaction were largely viewed as essential for establishing trust in deepening relationships and achieving professional goals such as concluding transactions. There were some compensatory affordances such as more ‘objective’ evaluations and equalization for those in more peripheral geographic locations. The material outcomes were that, for most, new relationships were significantly handicapped, resulting in networks in a state of stasis, a situation that privileged extant connections and those with strong professional networks. Full article
Article
Shall We All Unmute? A Conversation Analysis of Participation in Online Reflection Sessions for General Practitioners in Training
Languages 2021, 6(2), 72; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages6020072 - 12 Apr 2021
Viewed by 785
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic has induced many changes to education in many contexts. In this study, we describe how general practitioners in training (residents) accomplish participation in collaborative reflection sessions conducted on Zoom. In this online setting, taking part in interactions is understood to [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has induced many changes to education in many contexts. In this study, we describe how general practitioners in training (residents) accomplish participation in collaborative reflection sessions conducted on Zoom. In this online setting, taking part in interactions is understood to be crucial to the creation of educational value. To study forms of participation used on Zoom, we recorded three group reflection sessions and examined them with Conversation Analysis. We focused on how participation is shaped by and is contingent upon the affordances of the online environment. Our analyses show that participants explicitly orient to the interactional accomplishment of participation in frameworks that change in the various phases of case discussion. Participants establish new procedures to deal with both familiar and sometimes new problems of participation introduced by the online environment. We describe these procedures in detail to contribute to the understanding of the accomplishment of participation through situated practices such as embodied talk-in-interaction. The findings can serve training purposes in online education across both medical and non-medical curricula. Full article
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