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When delayed responses are productive: Being persuaded following resistance in conversation

journal contribution
posted on 08.10.2019 by Elizabeth Stokoe, Bogdana Huma, Rein Sikveland, Heidi Kevoe-Feldman
Conversation analysts have long since demonstrated that, in responding to an initiating action (e.g., question), recipients have at least two ways to respond; that response options (e.g., answer, non-answer) are not equivalent, and that ‘preferred’ responses are typically delivered more rapidly than ‘dispreferred’ responses. This paper examines cases in which ‘preferred’ responses, which progress the preceding actions in productive alignment, are delayed. We combined and analysed four British and American datasets: mediators talking to potential clients; police negotiators talking to suicidal persons in crisis; calls to emergency services from suicidal persons, and salespeople talking to potential customers. Our analysis revealed that, when one party has resisted the project of the other, delay may indicate an upcoming productive response. Such delays break the sequence’s contiguity, thus producing (some) structural independence from a previously dismissed course of action and enabling the speaker to maintain (some) ‘face’, in Goffman’s terms. We discuss the implications of these findings for understanding alignment and preference in conversation analysis, and the practices of resistance and persuasion more generally.

Funding

Economic and Social Research Council grant “Identities in neighbour discourse: Community, conflict and exclusion” (2005-2008)

History

School

  • Social Sciences

Department

  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies

Published in

Journal of Pragmatics

Volume

155

Pages

70 - 82

Publisher

Elsevier

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Rights holder

© Elsevier

Publisher statement

This paper was accepted for publication in the journal Journal of Pragmatics and the definitive published version is available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2019.10.001.

Acceptance date

04/10/2019

Publication date

2019-11-04

Copyright date

2019

ISSN

0378-2166

Language

en

Depositor

Prof Elizabeth Stokoe

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