The Nordic Network of Interaction Studies on Communication Impairment (NISCI) is a newly established network ‘in the making’. The network was built in 2014 on the grounds of an exploratory workshop series on “Communicative impairment in interaction. A Nordic perspective on the social organization of disordered talk” funded by the Nordic Research Council for Humanities and the Social Science (NOS-HS). The Network aims to gather Nordic expertise on communication impairment from an interactive or conversation analytical perspective. At the moment the group is made up of scholars working in Denmark, Finland and Sweden but the network is open to those in other countries as well.
The need for a new perspective
Analysis of how communicative abilities are affected when people suffer from aphasia or other language impairments is traditionally based on a cognitive model with the focus on processes inside the individual, who is assessed primarily in isolation from his usual interactional context. In recent years a number of studies have developed a new perspective on communicative impairment that focuses on interactive contexts in which language emerges as an action in the lived social world. These studies enrich the theoretical debate with astonishing new insights about the communicative abilities of the individual suffering from communicative impairment, which are much more complex than the former perspective on cognitive processes. The new analytical insights have also helped to implement and evaluate intervention programmes that have been used by clinical practitioners such as speech and language therapists.
Most studies of this kind are undertaken within the field of conversation analysis (CA). CA’s strength is that it provides a detailed analysis of the sequential and/or multimodal organisation of talk-in-interaction based on data of natural occurring interactions of adults and/or children. In this way the analysis does not center on isolated sentences and experimental settings but rather on the interactional and emergent production of meaning in the situation. Thus, the focus is shifted from language alone to the entire situation such as the participant framework of people collaborating in the production of talk as well as multimodality and the use of objects.
The Need of a Nordic Network
The discussion on how communicative impairment is interactionally managed has taken place primarily in the United States and England (see e.g. the work of Charles Goodwin, Ray Wilkinson, Suzanne Beeke, Charles Antaki, and Steven Bloch), but there are several Nordic researchers working on the topic (e.g. Jan Anward, Maria Egbert, Gitte Rasmussen, Christina Samuelsson, Niklas Norén, Charlotta Plejert, Anu Klippi, Minna Laakso, Camilla Lindholm, Marianne Lind, Pirkko Raudaskoski, and Tarja Aaltonen). Therefore, the Network aims to gather and make internationally visible Nordic expertise.