Conversational shaping: staff-members' solicitation of talk from people with an intellectual impairment

In initiating and maintaining talk with people with intellectual impairments, members of care staff use a range of recurrent conversational devices. The authors list six of the more common of these devices, explain how they work interactionally, and speculate on how they serve institutional interests. As in other dealings between staff members and the people with intellectual impairments they support, there is a pervasive dilemma between, on one hand, encouraging participation and, on the other, getting institutional jobs done. The authors show how the practices of encouraging talk that they describe move between the two horns of that dilemma.