Risks and responsibilities in the workplace

Employees discussing evacuation situations


  • Annelie Ädel Dalarna University
  • Catharina Nyström Höög Dalarna University
  • Jan-Ola Östman Dalarna University




risk communication, evacuation, responsibility, dominant discourse, positioning, workplace communication


This study analyses experiences with and in relation to issues of risk, responsibility and evacuation in workplace settings as discussed in four focus groups in Sweden and Swedish-language Finland. The discussions, and in particular the participants’ positionings in their ‘small stories’, are analysed from two perspectives: that of narratives, and that of interpretive repertoires. The main question under investigation is how employees at different workplaces discursively construe their sense of responsibility in the face of risk and evacuation situations. The findings show that these issues are handled very differently in different workplaces, but at all in accordance with the participants’ implicit responsibility positionings and what we see as the interpretive repertoires (organisational, instinctual, skills-based and informational) they draw on. Whereas previous studies have considered workplaces with high-stakes settings, the present study is set in workplaces where risk is not thematised on a regular basis, making the results applicable not only to workplace scenarios, but to society at large.

Author Biographies

Annelie Ädel, Dalarna University

Annelie Ädel received her PhD in English linguistics from Gothenburg University, Sweden, and is currently Full Professor at Dalarna University, Sweden. Her research interests include discourse analysis, corpus linguistics and English for Specific Purposes. She has been affiliated with the University of Michigan’s English Language Institute as director of Applied Corpus Linguistics and with Stockholm University as a research fellow.

Catharina Nyström Höög, Dalarna University

Catharina Nyström Höög received her PhD in Scandinavian Languages from Uppsala University, Sweden, and is currently Full Professor at the Department for Swedish Language and Multilingualism, Stockholm University. Her research interests include stylistics and text linguistics, plain language, genre and discourse analysis, organisational discourse and sociolinguistics.

Jan-Ola Östman, Dalarna University

Jan-Ola Östman received his PhD in linguistics from University of California at Berkeley and is currently Professor Emeritus at University of Helsinki, Finland. His research interests include pragmatics and discourse, sociology of language, dialectology and construction grammar. He is the co-editor of the ongoing Handbook of Pragmatics (John Benjamins) and he was President of the International Pragmatics Association 2012–2017.


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How to Cite

Ädel, A., Nyström Höög, C., & Östman, J.-O. (2022). Risks and responsibilities in the workplace: Employees discussing evacuation situations. Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice, 16(3), 265–288. https://doi.org/10.1558/jalpp.19499