Professional skills and linguistic competences in situations at risk :resolving incidents in the pharmacological industry
Langage et société, n°125, September 2008
Ergonomists often call events those unforeseeable and sometimes difficult situations that arise in the midst of routine work. While certain authors consider these events as a breaching of norms, events that should be avoided or quickly straightened out, others see unexpected events as opportunities for operators to express their agency and to display their professional expertise. In this paper, we address the question of communication in situations posing risks by examining in which conditions risk occurs at work and how risk is dealt with in a professional situation. We do this by exploring two directions in relation with the conceptualization of events as a source of added agency and meaning at work. Firstly, we address the issue by providing concrete empirical material to illustrate the occurrence of such unforeseeable events. Secondly, we focus more specifically on how language is used when the events happen and operators need to collectively deal with them. The analysis of video data allows us documenting how individuals at work resolve an incident on an industrial production line and understanding better different modes of using discourse in professional communication in situations posing risks. More generally, on a theoretical plane, the analysis highlights some aspects of the linguistic competences that operators display in these work situations.
Key words : competence, interaction, activity, work, multimodality, reflexivity
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