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Keywords:

  • conversation analysis;
  • intellectual disability;
  • interaction;
  • power;
  • self-advocacy

Abstract

Background  This study examined power dynamics in verbal interactions between care staff and people with learning disabilities.

Method  Recordings of residents’ meetings in a group home for people with learning disabilities were examined.

Results  The analysis showed some of the ways in which power was exercised in verbal interactions between care staff and residents. It was found that staff adopted various techniques to guide the discussion and produce certain kinds of statements and decisions. It could be said that in these cases, the staff were having to decide between two or more conflicting institutional objectives.

Conclusion  The effect was that staff contributions sometimes produced interactional patterns which were contrary to the goal of encouraging the residents to speak up and have more say in the management of their home.