Poetic confluence and the public formulation of others’ private matters

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This article is an exploratory empirical study of a form of interpersonal relationality that takes the form of a speech event in which one participant produces a spoken turn that exhibits a poetic relationship to a co-participant’s unspoken thoughts or unarticulated mental imagery. The data consist of anecdotal reports, which are analysed in relation to empirical findings from conversation analytic studies of formulations in institutional and naturally occurring talk. The first part of the article establishes its robustness and describes some recurrent properties. The analysis shows how poetic turns formulate modulated versions of others’ sensitive or delicate thoughts or imagery, thereby performing a form of Goffmanesque remedial work. In the discussion, methodological and substantive implications of this phenomenon are discussed, specifically: the use of anecdotes in sociological research, the porousness of personal boundaries, and theoretical accounts of relationality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)687-704
Number of pages18
JournalSociological Research Online
Issue number3
Early online date31 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2018

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2018. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.


  • relationality; poetics; resonance; formulations; telepathy; interiority; interaction
  • telepathy
  • poetics
  • formulations
  • interiority
  • interaction
  • relationality
  • resonance

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