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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The social organization of dialogue : search for a voice Thompson, Linda Marie


This thesis makes two claims about dialogue. First it claims that dialogue is socially organized, and second, it claims that the self is multivocal in its need to speak. What is the import of this for sociological inquiry? Why is it good to write dialogue? What can we learn from doing it? These are the questions which the thesis asks the reader to consider. The dialogue, which is conducted through the voice of science, the voice of skepticism, the voice of convention and the voice of inquiry, is presented as an alternative to treatise. Dialogue is multi vocal in its presentation whereas treatise is univocal. Treatise claims that the only voice to recognize is the voice which represents science, where science is the voice of authority. It is the voice which transmits knowledge from the knowledgeable to the ignorant. It is the voice which "knows-for-certain" taking as its responsibility the burden of ensuring that the ignorant become informed of the truth about "things". Sociology, although it has joined the tradition of treatise, has always permitted itself to stand back from science and treat it as an object. It has taken as its task the need to remind us, and itself, that science is a voice but only one of many voices which we heed. Therefore, dialogue, because of its multivocality, clearly corresponds to an established sociological point of view and deserves to be revived as a forgotten form of inquiry. Furthermore, multivocality is an issue which is implicitly recognized by sociology in that it allows that science must be addressed as institutional and thoroughly social. Given this interest, dialogue shows possibility in that it allows one voice to cry out when science (or convention) speaks, "Stop! Let's talk about this. What is knowledge? Where does it come from? Who has it? Who controls it?" The dialogue form, because it allows the expression of one's many voices, can liberate one from silence, from death. This is the awareness this work intends.

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