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Preference and the conversation analytic endeavor

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Title:Preference and the conversation analytic endeavor
Authors:Bilmes, Jack
Keywords:Conversation analysis
LC Subject Headings:Quantification
Date Issued:2014
Citation:Journal of Pragmatics 64 (2014) 52--71
Abstract:Conversation analysis (CA), as currently practiced, comprises two approaches -- action-oriented and meaning-oriented. I use CA treatments of ‘preference’ as a case in point. In current discussions of preference, the emphasis is on action, on what interactants do. Action is grounded in psychological mechanisms, which CA is not equipped to handle. So discussions of preference turn toward a more quantified notion of what people usually do. I argue that attempts at quantification raise problems that are not soluble within the confines of CA methodology. I then turn to the broadest and most discussed preference, the supposed preference for agreement, arguing that it is context sensitive in ways that produce multiple exceptions. Using a gross, transcontextual average, even if that were possible, would be unenlightening. I focus, using an extended example, on one of the exceptions, the case of accusations. I suggest that we drop the action- oriented approach and attend instead to meaning. This approach is grounded in a conception of evidence which does not rely on either falsification criteria or statistical measures. Its generalizations pertain not to what interactants normally do but to the resources they have and the methods they employ in producing meaning and social organization.
Appears in Collections: Jack Bilmes

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