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[xmca] Is IRE Really Individually Oriented?

I don't know how many people have access to the new article for discussion (Gratier, Geenfield and Isaac). But I was reading it over last night and wondering.
The authors say (on p. 200) that Initiate-Response-(Ostensibly Optional Feedback, of which Evaluate is a common form) is a discourse format that "suits" individualistic cultural emphasis. 
I have two qualms about this statement. The first is that I wonder to what extend IRF (or IRE) is simply an artefact of analysis: ANYTHING said as a "starter" in an exchange constitutes an initiate and almost anything in response to the implicit demands in the starter is a response, with the optional feedback being either:
a) a response to the response (tacit communicative style)
b) an evaluation of the felicity of the exchange as a whole (more explicit)
Defined this way, I have found instances of IRE in almost EVERY sample of discourse I have ever analyzed, and I'm not at all sure that  it is more common in classroom situations than elsewhere.
My second qualm is that I don't see any inherent link at all between IRE and individualist cultural emphasis. If anything, I would say the opposite is true: IRE is well suited to T-Everyone exchanges and T-Anyone exchanges and is rather LESS suited to T-Someone exchanges because the uptake on these tends to be contingent and specific.
Is it possible that our feelings about IR(E) are simply a cultural prejudice? I don't mean East-West culture; I mean a kind of smaller, academic culture which sees IR(E) where it doesn't really exist and which sees in this largely imaginary unit of discourse a kind of neo-behaviorism, where the E represents the bread offered to our salivating dogs, the pellet offered to the pigeons, and the candy offered to the child.
If that were a true picture of IR(E), why would the E be the OPTIONAL element?
David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education

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