What is it about?

Stuttering emerges in a social context. This article presents a sociological framework for stuttering, focusing on the adult population. The author shows that the components to the naturally occurring speech event as described by Hymes (1964; 1967) presents inherent threats to adults who stutter. The relationship between the components of the sociological framework of stuttering and Hymes' model is demonstrated. The author provides a clinical example from his work with an adult who stutters and shows how the sociological framework captures the lived experiences of the client. Excerpts from the client's journals, which are encouraged in this process, are provided for each of the components of the sociological framework.

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Why is it important?

The description of the stuttering event within a sociological framework allows for a "real-time" perspective on that event. It can help the clinician answer the question, "What is it like to be you?" in reference to the daily life of an adult who stutters. The therapeutic methodology of journaling and counseling around cognitive-affective issues of acceptance, avoidance, fear, anxiety, etc. promote integration of an individual's stuttering into their social self.


From the ethnographic and linguistic perspective, the work of Dell Hymes has interested me since my Master's program. I have always appreciated the brilliance of his model for its simple but comprehensive description of the speech event. I first met Erving Goffman when I was required to read one of his articles in graduate school and I was, again, captured by the sociological features of human communication. His work formed the foundation of my doctoral dissertation. Finally, the work of Joseph Sheehan informs the sociological model because of his psychosocial perspectives on stuttering. I firmly believe that as clinician, we must ask the question, "What is it like to be you?" and I hope clinician's will find the sociological framework useful to that end.

James Mancinelli
La Salle University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: A Framework for a Sociological Description of the Communicative Interaction in Adults Who Stutter, American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, July 2021, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA),
DOI: 10.1044/2021_ajslp-20-00279.
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