Construction of affiliation through troubles-talk in online text chat

Dahyun, Park
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Users of text-based synchronous computer-mediated communication (SCMC) face the issue of how to construct stance and social relations within the affordances and constraints of the medium (Chun, 1994; Simpson, 2005; Smith, 2003; Warner, 2004; Werry, 1996). Previous studies have examined how participants construct affective stance and affiliation/disaffiliation with lexical and syntactic resources, abbreviations, symbols, and emoticons, and such actions as affiliative/disaffiliative assessments (Golato & Taleghani-Nikazm, 2006; González-Lloret, 2011, 2016; Smith, 2003). In everyday talk, intimate participants in particular also engage in troubles-talk as an (dis)affiliation-generating practice. As described by Jefferson (1988) and Jefferson and Lee (1981) from a conversation-analytic perspective, troubles-telling commonly advances through a sequence of ordered actions that involve, minimally, a description or display of the trouble by the teller and a (dis)affiliative response by the recipient (Lindström & Sorjonen, 2013). As yet, there are only a limited number of studies of troubles talk in text-based SCMC. To fill the gap, this study adopts conversation analysis (CA) to examine troubles-telling practices in online text chat (Tudini, 2010) between close friends. The participants' shared personal histories and academic discipline serve as resources that enable recognitional reference (Sacks & Schegloff, 1979) and an orientation to minimization more generally. These interactional preferences have a good fit with the structural constraints of the medium. The talks will show how the participants accomplish troubles-talk through recurrent interactional practices and in this way "do friendship" in an online text chat environment.
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