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Abstracts for CA Day 2022

We are very excited to announce the programme for CA day 2022! Here is the preliminary programme and abstracts. Thank you to all the wonderful CA people who submitted!

The role of affiliation in managing progressivity of complaints calls

Catrin S. Rhys | Maria Erofeeva | Ulster University | Bethan Benwell | University of Stirling

In complaints calls callers and complaint handlers have different interactional objectives (to tell their story and to work out the next step in the complaints procedure) which can come into tension with one another. The focus of this paper is on the effects of affiliation display on the reconciliation of these separate projects. The data used in this study emerges from a conversation analytical project looking at complaints made to three separate NHS Trusts in two nations of the UK over a period of ten years. First, we look at instances where the lack of affiliation or its inappropriate timing leads to an escalation of the complainable which may include intensification of emotional conduct, generalization and amplification of the complained-of event, incremental additions to the complaint, and the prolonging of the call. Second, we analyze cases where affiliation display is used to progress the conversation – ones that include an emotional attunement and ones that are based on an immediate acknowledgement of actions that should be done to solve the complained-of issue. We argue that displays of affiliation help progress the call through the joint negotiation of a complaint story as being finished or ongoing. We further consider how affiliation is tuned to the action formation of complaints. Pino (2022) has recently shown that complaining comprises two components – the hurt (impact) and the blame (responsibility attribution). In our corpus complaint handlers usually affiliate with the hurt while blame, if attended to, is typically generalized to ascribe responsibility to institutional (mis)communications. 

Mothers reporting racism on Mumsnet

Yarong Xie | University of Edinburgh

This study explores how the gendered and family category, mum, is invoked and mobilised in reporting racism on Mumsnet. Mumsnet is the UK’s biggest network for parents. With its gendered-parenthood branding and female-dominant usership, Mumsnet assembles a setting wherein the category, mum/parent, is omni-relevant for the activities taken place therein. Six Mumsnet discussion threads (totalling seventy-two posts) were collected for a doctoral project, examining how people report racism. The original posts, where racism is reported, were analysed using membership categorisation analysis and discursive psychology. Important patterns were observed. Firstly, the standard relational pair, mother-and-child, is invoked as the original posters (OPs) describe what happened to them and/or their children. Secondly, OPs mobilise the moral obligations tied to the category, mum/parent, in assessing the alleged behaviour and blaming the culpable party or their parents (when a child is the actor). Lastly, protecting children from harm and racism is made the relevant category-bound duty when OPs seek advice from fellow Mumsnetters.This analysis demonstrates how the focal business, reporting racism, is managed by mobilising the ascriptions tied with the category mum/parent in these original posts. Blaming is cast by the category device ‘family’, rather than a device that consists of categories such as racist/perpetrator or victim. In doing so, these reports of racism are packaged as post-able on Mumsnet. OPs’ advice-seeking is in turn legitimised. This study extends the existing DP/MCA research by showing how categories other than race can be operational in reporting racism. 

Interpretive asymmetries in accounts of player safety and welfare in professional sport

Christopher Elsey | Katie Burnett | Alisha Warner | David Jones | De Montfort University 

In the last 20 years the long-term impact of concussion and repeated head injuries in professional sporting contexts has led to public debates about risk and issues of accountability. As such in 2002 a Coroner’s inquest into the premature death of former football player Jeff Astle categorised dementia and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) due to an ‘industrial disease’ (repeatedly heading the football). Using the methods of ethnomethodology and conversation analysis this paper will use a wide range of publicly available data sources (including media interviews, webinars, podcasts and TV  documentaries). This paper will utilise testimonies from retired players and their family members to explore the everyday impact that dementia had on the familial relationships and interactions. It will examine the language and discourse of loss or absence in which strong and successful players come to resemble “a physical shell” with no recollection of their careers. These powerful descriptions are explicitly intertwined with accounts of blame and anger towards the sports and the organisations that run them. These accounts will be contrasted with World Rugby’s ‘Brain Health’ campaign with its focus on personal  responsibility, as well as player statements about the improved safety protocols established. This paper explores the challenges families encounter and the emotional rollercoaster they articulate in order to foreground their often unheard voices in wider debates about concussion and brain health. As such the impetus to change sporting protocols and to expand academic research is often the upshot of these painful narratives.

How do you stop someone from being killed? A conversation analysis examination of bystander interventions in the murder of George Floyd

Chris Walton | Lancaster University

Social psychologists have long argued over the psychological processes that underlie bystander behaviour. However, to date there has been no direct examination of how bystanders actually intervene, or attempt to do so, in a naturalistic context. The murder of George Floyd in 2020 and the multiple video and audio recordings of his killing affords just such an opportunity to conversation analysts. Our analysis charts the design and trajectory of bystander interventions to the police arrest and restraint of George Floyd. It makes apparent the shifting perceptions of the bystanders and their understandings of the situation, and the interaction orders to which they orient when designing interventions. In doing so, the analysis provides a preliminary and behavioural account of the concerns that are salient for bystanders when launching interventions.

Elephant in the room: Alluding-to common knowledge in broadcast talk

Matthew Butler | University of York

This talk analyses participants alluding-to common knowledge during Broadcast Talk. Specifically, my analysis focuses on an aspect turn design (Drew, 2013) during radio phone ins and tv news interviews which enables speakers to allude-to aspects of a topic that are controversial or problematic. It is shown that laughter is a recurrent feature during these turns and, along with pauses and halts in progressivity, enables speakers to demonstrate i) that they are making an allusion-to something and ii) that what is being alluded-to is problematic or delicate. Interestingly, the common-knowledge which is alluded-to is rarely brought to the surface of the interaction. Thus, my analysis also focuses on recipients of these allusions and shows that laughter and embodied actions are used by them to acknowledge the allusion, while also supressing it and not bringing it to the surface of the interaction (c.f. Schegloff, 1996). The phenomenon presented in this talk is multifaceted and analysis of it represents a conversation analytic approach to studying the unsaid by speakers in Broadcast Talk (e.g. Clayman and Heritage, 2001; Hutchby, 2011; Romaniuk, 2013).

Applying conversation analysis to explore police-victim interaction during first response call-outs to domestic abuse incidents

Kate Steel | UWE Bristol

This presentation provides an overview of how Conversation Analysis (CA) was applied in my recently completed PhD, which forms the basis of ongoing research in the same speech context: interactions between police officers and alleged victims during first response callouts to domestic abuse incidents in England and Wales. I adopt first response call-out (FRC) to denote officers’ period of attendance at the scene of a suspected crime reported to the emergency number (see College of Policing 2022). The lack of previous empirical linguistic research in this context reflects the many ethical and legal complexities around researcher access. With rare access to authentic FRC data, this study demonstrates the value of CA in unveiling the moment-to-moment construction of social relations during these consequential encounters. Analysis takes as its point of departure not only the unknown but also the pivotal nature of FRCs, which are characterised by undetermined social relations involving the speakers, the suspect, the potential investigation and the overarching social structures. In this talk, I address the methodological challenges presented during the finegrained, inductive analysis of audiovisual data in the form of police body-worn video footage. I then present extracts which illustrate the application of CA in three main analytic strands: (i) management of the setting and interactional spaces; (ii) police expertise-ininteraction in performing institutional tasks, and (iii) the construction of victims’ responsibility in relation to the reported events. The findings are critically interpreted in relation to the victims’ vulnerability, the police-victim relationship and the quality of the evidence produced.

“Have you ever actually talked to him?”: Indirect complaint sequences and the role of epistemics in failed affiliation during family talk

Andrea Rodriguez | Valeria Sinkeviciute | The University of Queensland 

Indirect complaining, a highly complex and delicate social action, involves the participants’ orientation to underlying moral issues (Drew, 1998) and the management of interpersonal relationships through different affiliative practices (Rodriguez, 2022) grounded on what is known as the epistemics of social relationships (Raymond & Heritage, 2006). While epistemics has received much attention in relation to some social actions (e.g. assessment) (Heritage, 2012; Bolden, 2018; Drew, 2018), complaining and responses to it, have not been thoroughly examined with a focus on epistemics and rights, expectations and obligations related to it. This paper aims to address this gap, by exploring indirect complaints in ordinary interactions between family members where expectations of affiliation are contingent on epistemic (im)balances. The data comes from TalkBank casual family phone conversations in English and Spanish. Drawing on interactional pragmatics, a CA informed method, in this analysis, we focus on responses to situation-oriented and third-party oriented complaints. The findings show that affiliation may fail when the recipient (1) has independent epistemic access to the complainee and the complainable, displaying a K+ position and often devaluing complainability, (2) lacks epistemic access to the specific complainable but uses general knowledge to propose a candidate complainable, escalate the complaint, and provide advice, and (3) disattends the complaint through wrong action ascription (e.g. informing), thereby indexing limited epistemic access to the complainable and triggering negotiation of the ascribed action. In each of these cases the responsibility of providing affiliation is constrained by the epistemics of social relations.

‘You’re an idiot’: Using insults and harsh criticism to foster the development of staff in high quality leader-member exchange LMX relationships

Cat Holt | University of Exeter Business School

In this mixed methods, longitudinal study a manager uses insults and harsh criticism to chastise his team members in one-to-one meetings. Paradoxically, rather than this being a signal of bullying or abusive supervision, team members report that they have a high quality relationship with their supervisor and that this blunt style of feedback supports their personal growth. The six month study recorded thirty interactions between the leader and his six followers. In addition to the recordings, leader-member exchange LMX ratings were collected after each one-to-one meeting to quantitatively assess the relationship quality, a free-text box was included for further insights from the participants. A detailed investigation of the leader’s insults using conversation analysis has led to a better understanding of the leader’s strategy of using bald statements and the redressive actions he takes to ensure they have a positive impact and translate to growth opportunities for the follower. Leadership communication is of continued importance and this case study provides valuable insights on ways to communicate difficult feedback within a high-quality, trusting relationship.

‘So I can go to work?’ Stance-taking in negotiations about short-term sick leave

Aija Logren | Tampere University

Writing a sickness certification is a frequent task in doctors’ consultations. Assessing patient’s work ability is part of the patient’s care, but it also has financial and social repercussions. With conversation analysis, I examine a collection of 26 episodes in which the topic of patient’s work or work ability is initiated, and which lead to negotiation about sick leave and sickness certification. The data, Finnish doctors’ consultations with patients who have upper respiratory symptoms, is collected before Covid-19 restrictions, so the primary criterion for sick leave is patient’s work ability, not the need to isolate the patient. In cases where the sickness certification is written, the negotiations typically proceed as follows: In the early phases of the consultation, patients imply there is a need for sick leave. After delivering diagnosis, doctors re-initiate the topic by asking if the patient is working. Patients treat this question as an offer to write a sickness certification but may mitigate their preference towards taking sick leave by providing accounts of the exceptionality or problematic nature of their current situation. It is rare in these data that the patients would ask for a sickness certification, and if they do, it seems to ensue interactional work. I discuss the deontic domains of patients and doctors with regard to sick leave, and the ways in which participants manage their stance in negotiations. Patients are entitled to decide whether they need rest, but sickness certification is a formal and regulated social benefit which seems delicate to request.

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