The author of the bestselling You Just Don't Understand, Deborah Tannen has collected twelve papers about gender-related patterns in conversational interaction. The theoretical thrust of the collection, like that of Tannen's own work, is anthropological and sociolinguistic: female and male styles are approached as different "cultural" practice. Beginning with Tannen's own essay arguing for the relativity of discourse strategies, the volume challenges facile generalizations about gender-based styles and explores the complex relationship between gender and language use. The chapters, some previously unpublished and some classics in the field, address discourse across the lifespan, including preschool, junior high school, and adult interaction. They explore such varied discourse contexts as preschool disputes, romantic and sexual teasing among adolescent girls, cooperative competition in adolescent "girl talk," conversational storytelling, a faculty committee meeting, children in an urban black neighborhood at play, and a legal dispute in a Tenejapan village in Mexico.
Two chapters review and evaluate the literature on key areas of gender-related linguistic phenomena: interruption and amount of talk. Gender and Conversational Interaction will interest general readers as well as students and scholars in a variety of disciplines including linguistics, sociolinguistics, anthropology, sociology, psychology, women's studies, and communications.