Danby, Susan, Harris, Jessica, & Butler, Carly W. (2014) Helpline Discourse. In Tracy, Karen (Ed.) International Encyclopedia of Language and Social Interaction. Wiley & Blackwell Publishing. (In Press)
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Helplines are services where callers can request help, advice, information, or support. While such help is usually offered through telephone helplines, web chat and email helplines are becoming increasingly available to members of the public. Helplines tend to offer specialized services, such as responding to computer software queries, or medical and health issues, or seeking information about natural disasters. Further, they may be aimed at particular populations such as children and young people. The earliest research investigating discourse in calls to helplines in social interactional research began in the 1960s with Sacks’ early work on calls to a suicide prevention center. Since then interactional research has produced a wealth of understandings into the mundane and institutional interactional practices through which help is sought and delivered. In addition to discussing the breadth of research into helplines, this entry explores the relationship between philosophies and interactional practices of helpline services.
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