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Plurality in Dialogue: A Comment on Bakhtin

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 May 2000

Zali Gurevitch
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mount Scopus, Jerusalem 91905, Israel
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In the following analysis I will focus on Bakhtin's concept of dialogical plurality, arguing that in spite of his position against the Þnalization of speech and his attack on monologistic, authoritarian unity, his dialogism is itself based on a supposition of wholeness. By insisting on dialogue as a remedy, Bakhtin's dialogism tends to oversimplify the instability and threat inherent in dialogue. The present study explores plurality as dependent on a shift into dialogue. The threshold of entrance and of exit which deÞnes the ‘betweenness’ of dialogue comes out as a rather problematic, torn link. It requires a constant making of a topic and is threatened and informed by forces of coercion, exclusion, break, strangeness and silence. Plurality becomes a critical trope in social theory that focuses on the very threshold of dialogue rather than on either a simpliÞed and smoothed version of the dialogic connection or on an exclusive version that splits between the dialogic and the monologic in an overstated ethics.

Research Article
2000 BSA Publications Ltd

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