Academic journal article Argumentation and Advocacy

Comment on the Special Issue

Academic journal article Argumentation and Advocacy

Comment on the Special Issue

Article excerpt

Sometime during the academic year of 1983-84, Nancy Hoff and I decided to undertake a very modest research project designed to describe arguments in interpersonal relationships. We initially interviewed 12 couples, asking them to describe an argument in which the two of them had participated with one another. We expected that they would select a single conversational episode.

After we completed and transcribed all of the interviews, we had difficulty describing the events as single episodes. After reflecting more on the transcripts, we came to the conclusion that what these couples were describing is not at all what we thought we were asking them about. We thought we were asking the couples to describe single argument episodes but they were describing events that extended across time. So when one of the couples told us they argued about finances, that argument they did not describe an argument about finances that happened in a single setting, but one that started one time and then, because it was not resolved at that time, continued again at a later time. In this particular case, they continued this argument for a couple of months, and at the time of the interview, the argument was still not resolved.

Having noticed that these interviews did not describe single conversational episodes, but a series of events within a continuing episode, we decided to call them "serial arguments. …

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