Talking cognition: Mapping and making the terrain

Jonathan Potter, Hedwig te Molder

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


This book addresses issues of conversation and cognition. For the first time some of the world's experts on interaction analysis have been brought together to consider the nature and role of cognition. They address the question of what part, if any, cognitive entities should play in the analysis of interaction. They develop different answers. Some are consistent with current thinking in cognitive psychology and cognitive science; others are more critical, questioning the idea that cognition is the obvious and necessary start point for the study of human action. The question of the relation of language and thought has been a central one in cognitive and developmental psychology for more than thirty years. For the contributors here the focus is not on language as it is traditionally understood but rather on talk or, even more specifically, on talk-in-interaction. That is, not on language as an abstract set of words, meanings, or a system of contrasts as it has usually been conceived, but talk as a practical, social activity, located in settings, occurring between people, used in practices. This approach has significant implications for the way traditional issues of cognition are treated. Talk and cognition have been brought together only rarely in the past and often for particular purposes local to one discipline. However, there are some important precursors to the current enterprise, and we will describe them in detail below.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConversation and Cognition
EditorsHedwig te Molder, Jonathan Potter
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages54
ISBN (Electronic)9780511489990
ISBN (Print)9780521790208
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • conversation analysis
  • cognition
  • theory


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