ABSTRACT

A range of approaches, originating within a variety of disciplines – sociology, anthropology and linguistics – have been used to study talk in institutional and workplace settings. These approaches will not be reviewed in detail here, as this has been done elsewhere; for example Sarangi and Roberts (1999) provide an excellent critical discussion of different approaches to analysing workplace discourse. This chapter touches on some of the key issues involved in collecting and analysing workplace talk, and shows how different approaches deal with these issues and what they can reveal about the data. One central issue is the role of context, therefore the chapter will begin by examining different views and treatments of context and how these are linked to methodology. Next quantitative and qualitative approaches to analysing naturally occurring talk will be compared, and the advantages and disadvantages of each highlighted. Finally, it will be suggested that the notion of genre is useful in examining workplace discourse, as it allows for an integrated approach using both quantitative and qualitative methods and a range of discourse analytical approaches.