How do people engage in and competently manage discourse and interaction with others? Whether in informal, everyday conversations or professional dialogues, people do things while they are speaking or writing. Focusing on the fundamental interactional, social, political and cultural functions of text and talk, this comprehensive volume shows that discourse is not merely form and meaning but also action. This social dimension of discourse is further highlighted by examining the role of social identity and group membership, such as those based on gender, 'race' and ethnicity: How do members of various groups typically speak among each other and how do they communicate with people of other groups or cultures? What is the role of discourse in the perpetuation of sexism or racism? Several chapters use critical discourse analysis to examine the reproduction of social power, dominance and inequality, and special attention is paid to political and corporate discourse. Other contributions show that the complex interplay of the forms, meanings, and actions of discourse both shape and are shaped by culture.