The rules of engagement: Power and interaction in dialogue events

Public Underst Sci. 2013 Jan;22(1):65-79. doi: 10.1177/0963662511399685. Epub 2011 Mar 14.


This article reflects on the "dialogic turn," focusing on one analytical framework for understanding the wide range of processes that fall under the rubric of engagement. The notion of power-in-interaction is explored using a case study of informal dialogue, the Dana Centre, London. Using this framework I argue that we can understand public engagement events as hallmarked by conflict, but that this conflict emerges not in differing assessments of the value of different forms of knowledge but around the very form of a dialogue event; similarly, I suggest that the content of talk indicates that imposed hierarchies are continually re-negotiated. In concluding I reflect on some implications of using power in the analysis of engagement.

Keywords: dialogue; discourse analysis; power; public engagement.