a1 Department of Communication, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, 73019, USA.
Research describing the social world of elderly residents of nursing homes is organised in this paper into three levels of analysis: the institutional level, the relational level and the interactional level. The significance of each level is highlighted, with special attention being given to the interactional level of analysis and the study of language within the nursing home. Data gathered from semi-structured interviews with both elderly residents and nurse aides are presented and interpreted as evidence of interactional problems which may emerge in the resident–staff relationship. Implications and future prospects of incorporating the three levels of analysis into the study of the psychosocial well-being of nursing home residents are considered.