(An)Other Way: Pragmatic Empathy as Response to Discursive Conflict

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
John W. Pell (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Hephzibah Roskelly

Abstract: This dissertation argues that pragmatic empathy, which is defined as the phase of communicative interaction where speakers respond as (an)other to common concerns, best articulates successful discursive encounters across cultural, political, and social differences. This project challenges the prevailing social constructionist paradigm that suggests that speakers must share cultural-linguistic conventions in order to communicate. By integrating the tenets of discursive interactionism--a causal description of language and communication--with the principles of North American Pragmatism, I argue that discursive competence with those we perceive as culturally, politically, or socially different precedes not through a sharing of signification practices but instead through the location and creation of meaning within the temporal limits of discursive encounters. Thus, pragmatic empathy names the limited nature of identification available to speakers in discursive exchanges across difference. The implications of this research are two-fold: First, it demonstrates how communication across difference does not require speakers to share languages or conventions prior to discourse; rather, understanding depends upon the speaker's ethical stance toward the other; Second, pragmatic empathy offers a pedagogical and epistemological model for engaging the diverse discourse practices of students in the heterogeneous college classrooms of an increasingly globalized academy.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2010
Composition, Cultural Studies, Discourse, Empathy, Identification, Rhetoric
Discourse analysis.
Culture $x Study and teaching.
Intercultural communication.

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