Pragmatic cooperation revisited: Resistance and non-cooperation as a discursive strategy in asymmetrical discourses

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


It is widely assumed in the pragmatics literature that human communication is rational and logical. It is commonly described as a cooperative endeavour where speakers are oriented towards a common purpose or goal, which is to make the interaction succeed, even though this may sometimes appear not to be the case. This article offers a critical discussion of Gricean cooperation. It analyses examples of student-teacher dialogues which show that non-cooperation and non-accommodation may be employed as the preferred discourse strategy, and that the aim of communication may be to miscommunicate rather than to communicate successfully. It is suggested that 'meaning' in language only makes sense in the light of the social and psychological conditions under which language is produced, and that the notion of cooperation should be analyzed in terms of what people want to obtain by their communication. Communication accommodation theory and the notion of resistance are proposed as more appropriate explanatory frameworks to achieve this end.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)649-666
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Communication accommodation theory
  • Cooperation
  • Grice
  • Miscommunication
  • Resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence

Cite this