A Multiperspectival and Mutifunctional Approach to Social Interaction


  • Peter Muntigl Fachbereich Anglistik, Universität Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria



Couples Counselling, Genre, Logogenesis, Macrogenre, Metafunction, Narrative, Psychotherapy, Systemic Functional Linguistics


Research on social activities that consist of multiple genres, also termed macrogenres, remains a relatively unexplored area in the linguistic sciences. Furthermore, representations of genres and macrogenres tend to be constituency based, highlighting ideational meanings as opposed to interpersonal and textual ones. In this paper, I illustrate how Halliday’s tripartite metafunctional (ideational, interpersonal, textual) model can be applied to a narrative counselling interview macrogenre. I argue that each metafunctional perspective can provide a different angle through which to observe, represent and explain counselling logogenesis. The data from this study were taken from audiorecordings of 2 cases of 6 conjoint narrative counselling sessions, involving 2 couples and a male counsellor. Using the methods of Genre & Register theory and Systemic Functional Linguistics, it was found that, for both cases of counselling, counsellor and couples drew from similar sets of linguistic resources to collaboratively construct the counselling process. Furthermore, these linguistic patterns were shown to cluster together, forming identifiable generic stages and genres in which couples problems were constructed and subsequently effaced. Finally, it was found that representing the counselling macrogenre from different metafunctional perspectives provided a more comprehensive picture of the purposeful and goal directed unfolding of the counselling process.

Author Biography

Peter Muntigl, Fachbereich Anglistik, Universität Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria

Peter Muntigl is Assistant Professor in the Department of English at the University of Salzburg and is Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University (Vancouver, Canada). He has recently written a book on psychotherapy entitled Narrative Counselling (2004) published by John Benjamins. His research on psychotherapy is currently being funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.


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How to Cite

Muntigl, P. (2008). Macrogenre: A Multiperspectival and Mutifunctional Approach to Social Interaction. Linguistics and the Human Sciences, 2(2), 233–256.