|Title||Clients’ downgrading reports about other people in welfare encounters: Matter out of place?|
|Tag(s)||EMCA, alignment, constraints on contribution, discourse analysis, downgrading, footing, frame, institutional talk, relevance, reports, welfare|
In welfare encounters, clients may from time to time report about other peoples’ doings in ways that are heard as more or less downgrading. This article examines how these reports are brought off in Norwegian vocational rehabilitation encounters, and especially, how the professional party aligns. Do such practices represent what Levinson calls ‘allowable contributions’ in the vocational rehabilitation meeting or are they treated as matter out of place? The analysis of five data extracts suggests that it is very important for the reception that the report is well contextualized and attuned to the institutional agenda. The counsellors displayed a neutral but cooperative alignment to reports integrated neatly in the business-at-hand in a top-down fashion (extracts 1–3). Here, the reports served as a tool to inform the recipient about the client’s own character and/or her experience of the rehabilitation process. However, in the two latter cases (extracts 4 and 5), where the client had a more initiating role, the reports appeared to have a more humorous or entertaining function. In response, the counsellors did not display alignment but searched for institutional relevance before re-contextualizing the report into a proper (institutional) context. This suggests that out-of-frame reports about other people delivered on a humorous footing do not straightforwardly fall into the category of ‘allowable contributions’ in this setting.