Publication Date



When people argue in a specific context, they usually know exactly how to do that. The social knowledge participants have to form their expectations regarding the interaction is what we consider as their theory of argumentation. Elucidating the theories of the participants in argumentative exchanges is to formulate a local theory of argumentation. In this regard, we consider the ethnography of communication (EoC) as a framework to supplement our studies on argumentation. We believe there are three forms of social knowledge that affect how argumentation is conducted in context. First, participants know what is persuasive within their interactional context. Second, they know how this interaction is appropriately conducted. Third, they attempt to enact and recreate their understanding of the context through their talk.

We use this framework to study citational practices in research. Each field has its own canonical authors. By citing them, academic practice reproduces the topics and audiences which have been deemed relevant. This is largely based on the norm that academic labor deserves acknowledgement. However, social structures may lead to exclusions of ideas and people, which are subsequently ignored. This is one of the issues raised after #MeToo. We consider whether in EoC acknowledgement should be given to other authors next to our canonical figure. We conclude that related research traditions like language socialization (Woolard & Schieffelin, 1994) and ideology (Schieffelin & Ochs, 1986) should also be considered within, and reinscribed into, EoC.

Journal or Book Title

Local Theories of Argument


Reijven, M. H. & Townsend, R. M. (in press). Communicative Competence and Local Theories of Argumentation: The Case of Academic Citational Practices. In: Dale Hample (Ed.), Local Theories of Argument. Routledge.