Prospective and retrospective categorisation category proffers and inferences in social interaction and rolling news media

Stokoe, E and Attenborough, F. (2015) Prospective and retrospective categorisation category proffers and inferences in social interaction and rolling news media. In: Advances in Membership Categorization Analysis. Sage, London, pp. 51-70. ISBN 9781446270738

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In this chapter, we have attempted to do three things. First, we have illustrated an approach to Membership Categorisation Analysis (MCA) that focuses on sequential and categorial analysis and shows the way categories, and the resourcefulness of their inference-rich quality, can be used prospectively and retrospectively to proffer and solidify on-going accounts, states of affairs, event descriptions, and ‘fact’. In addition to the analysis of different kinds of spoken and written interaction, we have also shown how the movement between description and categorisation functions to construct, constrain and produce accounts of ‘what is happening’ and ‘what happened’ in news reporting. Second, we have tried to show Sacks’s machinery of membership categorisation in practice. While one reads many descriptions of the terms of MCA, including the notions of ‘inference-rich’ and so on, these terms can seem complex and can also be used to justify the kinds of ‘wild and promiscuous’ analysis that Schegloff has criticised MCA for conducting. In contrast, we have shown how the inference-rich nature of categories is built into people’s categorial practices. As noted earlier, it is not just that categories are, in theory and before empirical observation, ‘inference rich’, but that we can see that, and how, people treat categories as carrying inferential resources, in the design of their turns in which categorial formulations appear (Stokoe, 2012b). In other words, the inference-rich nature of categories is observable from the endogenous orientations of participants and is a resource for constructing accounts that can be reconstructed, contested, provisional, deniable – on their way to becoming solid, factual and beyond construction. Third, we have shown how one can build MCA studies of the identification of practices from different sorts of large datasets. As Stokoe (2012b) has argued elsewhere, for MCA to survive as a method, in any way distinct from the more dominant conversation analysis, or as adding something to the analysis of social interaction, studies of practices that can be transferred across settings are required. Not only does such an approach provide an empirical base for other researchers, in the same way that CA has done, but it provides for the possibility of applying research findings to create impact for users and practitioners (Stokoe, 2013). Stokoe (2012b) has described a number of principles and steps for beginning and proceeding with a categorisation study, whether they start with an interest in a particular category in mind (e.g., ‘nutter’) or categorial phrase (e.g., ‘it’s human to get angry’; ‘speaking as a parent’), or with a more inductive ‘noticing’ of a set of spoken or written interactional materials. The key is to collect data across different sorts of settings; including both interactional and textual materials. Data collection may be purposive (e.g. gathering together instances of particular categories in use because of an a priori interest in that category) or unmotivated (e.g. noticing a category’s use and pursuing it within and across multiple discourse sites). Once collected and organised, analysis should look for evidence that, and how, recipients orient to categories, devices or inferences for the [Page 70]interactional consequences of a category’s use; for co-occurring component features of categorial formulations; and for the way participants within and between turns build and resist categorisations. In this way, a ‘categorial systematics’ approach to MCA works with collections of instances of possible categorial phenomena gathered from different discourse contexts, with the aim of uncovering the systematic centrality of categories and categorial practices to action.

Item Type: Book Section
Divisions: School of Humanities
Depositing User: Dr Frederick Attenborough
Date Deposited: 05 Aug 2019 08:50
Last Modified: 05 Aug 2019 08:50

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