|Author(s)||Charles Antaki, Mark Rapley|
|Title||‘Quality of Life’ Talk: The Liberal Paradox of Psychological Testing|
|Journal||Discourse & Society|
The new discourse of `quality of life' is highly consequential for those whose lives are regulated by medical and psychological services, but at the heart of it there is a paradox. On the one hand, psychologists are committed to assessing the wellbeing of their clients; on the other hand, their theorization of `quality of life' and their diagnostic interview procedures cordon off its official definition from ordinary usages. This paper explores how interviewers try to solve the paradox by `naturalizing' their questioning, in spite of interviewees' orientation to the clinical test that motivates it. We pay close attention to the actual practice of assessment interviews and show how troubles arise due to mismatches between the `natural' and the official in two crucial aspects: the motivation for asking about someone's quality of life and how to deal with the `irrelevant' material and troubles talk that the client might provide as an answer. We show how interviewers use cover identifications, pro-verbs and prodescriptions to solve the paradox they face. We conclude that whatever such interviews achieve, it is not so much a record of the respondent's quality of life but of the interviewer and interviewee's joint management of a paradoxical encounter.