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Article

“The whole thing is really managing crisis”: Practice theory insights into interpreters' work experiences of success and failure

This article explores the relationship of crisis to the professional practice of interpreting. Applying a practice theory approach, it illustrates interpreters' sense‐making efforts and strategic adjustments to crisis as an intrinsic part of their work. Leveraging upon the concepts of consciousness‐mediated, accompanied adjustment and teleoaffectivity as ends, goals and emotions of life conditions, the article argues that we can identify core meanings around “crisis” in the interpreting practice. These meanings are linked to the calibrations that interpreters carry out to achieve professional aims of success and avoid failure. Drawing upon an ethnographic study of interpreting in the United Kingdom, the article finds that interpreters act to provide effective communication services through the orderly display of professional conduct, in turn steering away from the negative publicness that failing in front of users brings upon them. The study reveals that crisis is embedded into interpreters' professional engagements, with their activities equally organised toward the avoidance of negative ends and emotions and the achievement of successful goals, as a precondition for smooth work and positive reputation. Thus, crisis in this practice is linked to specific understandings and enactments of teleoaffectivity, as interpreters adjust to crisis by acting in purposeful ways (‐teleo) steered by accompanying emotional states (‐affect). This article contributes to social practice literature by attending to these nuances of crisis, seeing them as bound up with the purposeful, motivational, and affective adjustments associated with practising interpreting.