The Communicative Work of Organizations in Shaping Argumentative Realities
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It is argued here that large-scale organization and networked computing enable new divisions of communicative work aimed at shaping the content, direction, and outcomes of societal conversations. The challenge for argumentation theory and practice lies in attending to these new divisions of communicative work in constituting contemporary argumentative realities. Goffman’s conceptualization of participation frameworks and production formats are applied to articulate the communicative work of organizations afforded by networked computing that invents and innovates argument in all of its senses—as product, process, and procedure. Communicative work, however, may be scaffolding argumentative contexts and practices that are quite different than what has constituted past argumentative realities. The computerization of argument happens as organizations invent and innovate argument practice relative to the demands and opportunities of interorganizational communication. The cases and examples examined here suggest that argument practice is evolving around the logic of conversation and the principle of personalization. The analysis challenges argumentation theory to seriously engage with the construction of communicative contexts and the realization of ideas about disagreement management in organizational practice and information infrastructures. Directions for integrating insights from a design perspective on argument with insights from organizational and information systems theory are proposed for coming to terms with an era of large-scale organization and computerization, in particular the evolution of argument practice, the inscription of argument in the built environment, and the absorption of socio-cultural argument practices by organizations and computation.
KeywordsArgument Design Deliberation Information infrastructure Institutions Communicative work Decision support Dialectical Goffman New media Emerging media Organizational communication Participation format Production format
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