Discursive Strategies of Civil Disagreement in Public Dialogue Groups Academic Article uri icon


  • This case study investigates how participants in public dialogue sessions engaged in what they term "civil disagreement." These sessions encouraged participants to explore a wide range of policy options on a public issue and consider diverse perspectives and possibilities for action. Using Action Implicative Discourse Analysis, we examine civil disagreement as a discursive problem. We argue that "civil disagreement" in public dialogue sessions is temporally bound, involves extended engagement in disagreement, and is viewed as productive by group members. Group members use discursive strategies such as challenging through questions, rearticulating claims while acknowledging other perspectives, and editing or reframing. Group members also use silence to demonstrate listening or to indicate their assessment of the situation as finalized. These discursive strategies demonstrate aspects of participants' situated ideals about public dialogue, which are related to their role in the disagreement and their construals of time. We offer practical implications for facilitators' use of guidelines, discussion of timing, and awareness of the multiple meanings of silence during disagreement. 2014 2014 National Communication Association.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Black, L. W., & Wiederhold, A.

citation count

  • 30

complete list of authors

  • Black, Laura W||Wiederhold, Anna

publication date

  • July 2014