Subscribe to our newsletter
Picture of Enacting the Roles of Boss and Employee in German Business Meetings

Enacting the Roles of Boss and Employee in German Business Meetings

A Conversation Analytic Study of How Social Roles are Co-Constructed

Author(s): Tobias Barske

Book Description

This book investigates how participants in German business meetings collaborate to “talk” this speech exchange system into existence. Using the methodology of conversation analysis, the study describes how participants in meetings perform different social roles, specifically, focusing on ways in which the enactment of “doing-being-boss” and “doing-being-employee” depends upon a moment-by-moment collaboration between all participants. In its description of how participants enact these social roles through talk-in-interaction, the book also incorporates systematically embodied actions into the analysis of business meetings.

Chapter Two situates this project within existing studies on business meetings, and introduces the research methodology of conversation analysis, while Chapter 3 examines all uses of the particle ok in German business meetings, arguing that certain uses of ok relate to enacting the social role of “doing-being-boss.” Chapter 4 then investigates the practice of how employees produce extended reports about ongoing projects. In discussing the social role of “doing-being-employee,” it compares the practice of story-telling in ordinary conversation to that of producing reports during German business meetings. Moreover, Chapter 5 problematizes the notion of pre-assigned social roles. Using the concept of zones of interactional transition, it discusses instances where employees question the role of the meeting facilitator, chairperson, and boss. In analyzing the interactional fallout in these examples, it offers additional evidence that social roles such as boss represent a social construct which depends on a constant co-construction of this role. Finally, the conclusion situates the study’s findings within the field of institutional talk.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-8823-3
ISBN-10: 1-4438-8823-0
Date of Publication: 01/04/2016
Pages / Size: 180 / A5
Price: £41.99


Tobias Barske is Professor of German and Applied Linguistics at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, USA, where he participates in coordinating the German Language program and trains new teachers in English as a Second Language, French, German, and Spanish. He holds a PhD in German Applied Linguistics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA, and teaches German language courses at all levels, including German for business, and courses in Foreign Language Teaching Methods. His research interests include conversation analysis, pragmatics, and sociolinguistics. His main research investigates the syntax of spoken German, specifically in the context of business meetings. He has published on the function of “little words” like particles such as so and response tokens such as ok in German. Dr Barske’s interests in second language acquisition and pedagogy include the acquisition of second-language pragmatics, the teaching of language using videos, and the teaching of languages for specific purposes. To this end, he has co-authored two textbooks.