Studying Dialogue – Some Reflections
AbstractIn this paper, I would like to share some thoughts provoked by the idea of establishing ‘dialogue studies’ as a distinct academic field, as suggested in the inaugural call for contributions to the new journal. These are not meant to be exhaustive of all the relevant questions that could be considered under this heading. I do not, for example, consider the question of disciplinary contributions or boundaries. My emphasis, rather, is on questions to do with ethos and coherence. In particular, I am interested in exploring the possibility, and the challenges, of cultivating a dialogic approach to the study of dialogue itself. My reflections begin with a look at the tendency, within academia, to privilege debate as a form of communication and the question of whether we might conceive a ]ournal of Dialogue Studies as a forum for a different kind of exchange. I then reflect on some of the difficulties of studying dialogue itself, particularly where this involves outside observers. The final section raises some issues around ‘studying dialogue’ in relation to teaching, learning and assessment. My overall intention here is to share some current, tentative thoughts in the hope that this contributes to a dialogue on the idea, and perhaps the practice, of ‘dialogue studies’.