'I'm not gonna hit a lady': conversation analysis, membership categorization and men's denials of violence towards women

2013-10-04T10:38:53Z (GMT) by Elizabeth Stokoe
This article examines the way male suspects deny accusations of assaulting women in interrogations by police officers. It draws on a large corpus of British police interrogation materials, and uses conversation analysis to shed light on the location and design of, and responses to, suspects’ ‘category-based denials’ that they are not ‘the kind of men who hit women’. Two sections of analysis identify how, first, such denials routinely follow police officers’ direct questions about violent behaviour, and, second, how they become embedded in extended narratives that are not directly describing violence. In contrast to other discourse-analytic studies of men’s accounts of violence towards women, the article unpacks the component features that comprise what others might label grossly as the ‘discourse of gendered violence’. Rather than see how such ‘discourses’ operate in interview contexts, it shows how suspects construct, in a high-stakes setting for a particular purpose, different categories of men, claiming membership in one (who do not hit women) by recruiting the notion of the other (who do). Thus, in addition to its contribution to the study of gender and violence, the article takes new steps in the ongoing development of membership categorization and conversation analysis, showcasing a type of systematic sequential analysis that can be done with membership categories.