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A conversation is communication by two or more people, often on a particular topic. William F. Buckley's Firing Line, the Dick Cavett Show, and many other television programs described as "talk shows" are exercises in conversation. Conversations are the ideal form of communication from at least one point of view, since they allow people with different views of a topic to learn from each other. A speech, on the other hand, is an oral presentation by one person directed at a group.

Conversers naturally relate the other speaker's statements to themselves, and insert themselves (or some degree of relation to themselves, ranging from the replier's opinions or points to actual stories about themselves) into their replies. For a successful conversation, the partners must achieve a workable balance of contributions. A successful conversation includes mutually interesting connections between the speakers or things that the speakers know. For this to happen, conversers must find a topic on which they can relate in some sense.

Conversation analysis is a branch of sociology which studies the structure and organization of human interaction, with a more specific focus on conversational interaction.


Types of conversation

Main article: Therapy as conversation

Conversations conducted in formal but unstructured settings can be particularly valuable in enlivening those in the growing population of retired, and sometimes otherwise isolated, people in advanced countries. Institutions such as the University of the Third Age provide such settings. Here the great diversity of life experience and points of view provide a very rich resource for advanced learning.

Literature on conversation

Authors who have written extensively on conversation and attempted to analyze its nature include:

  • Charles Blattberg has written two books defending an approach to politics that emphasizes conversation, in contrast to negotiation, as the preferred means of resolving conflict. His From Pluralist to Patriotic Politics: Putting Practice First, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000, ISBN 0-19-829688-6, is a work of political philosophy; and his Shall We Dance? A Patriotic Politics for Canada, Montreal and Kingston: McGill Queen's University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-7735-2596-3, applies that philosophy to the Canadian case.

See also

External links


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