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This paper draws on Bakhtin’s ethico-ontological vision of dialogue to theorize “relational becoming” on a micro-level. To do so, it introduces three “ethical dimensions of dialogue” (responsibility, responsiveness, and capacitation) and develops the interrelated concepts of addressability and presencing as analytical lenses. Drawing on transcript data from a series of high school and college students’ discussions about controversial political issues, the analysis examines how interlocutors made themselves addressable, addressed each other, and were “presenced” in dialogue. It also discusses the ethico-ontological potential of these interactions, identifying a problematic tendency among interlocutors to not “show up” in verbal discourse in a variety of ways, including, in particular, reliance on abstractions.
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