The Ethnography of Communication Disorders Revisited

Authored by: Dana Kovarsky

Handbook of Qualitative Research in Communication Disorders

Print publication date:  November  2013
Online publication date:  April  2014

Print ISBN: 9781848726420
eBook ISBN: 9780203798874
Adobe ISBN: 9781134187416


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My first job as a practicing speech-language pathologist was in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1980. As part of my duties, I was required to attend a number of in-service activities. I remember listening to a mind numbing presentation about how practitioners could use pieces of Styrofoam shaped like peanuts to teach children how to read through a series of stimulus-response-reinforcement chains. Although never stated explicitly, language was represented as discrete objective bits of behavior that simply had to be chained together and memorized. Consistent with a conduit metaphor of communication (Duchan, 1993; Kovarsky & Walsh, 2011a; Reddy, 1979), meaning could then be transmitted along a pipeline, via writing or speaking, to a relatively passive receiver.

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