Accusation, mitigation and resisting guilt in talk

Fitzgerald, Richard and Austin, Helena (2008) Accusation, mitigation and resisting guilt in talk. The Open Communication Journal, 2 93-99. doi:10.2174/1874916X00802010093

Author Fitzgerald, Richard
Austin, Helena
Title Accusation, mitigation and resisting guilt in talk
Journal name The Open Communication Journal   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1874-916X
Publication date 2008
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.2174/1874916X00802010093
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 2
Start page 93
End page 99
Total pages 7
Editor Ramaprasad, J.
Place of publication Netherlands
Publisher Bentham Open
Collection year 2009
Language eng
Subject C1
970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture
200403 Discourse and Pragmatics
Formatted abstract
 The notion of ‘guilt’ has been subject of examination through the methods of Membership Categorisation Analysis as a part of the work of formal institutions such as courts, police, and schools where the consequences of decisions made may have direct effects on the person being judged. However whilst this research has provided access to the process of ‘negotiating’ guilt in these highly ritualized and formal contexts the ascription, negotiation and resistance of guilt is not restricted to these institutions. Rather deciding someone’s ‘guilt’ or resisting such a categorisation can be seen as part of the routine everyday work of social life. In this paper we use the method of Membership Categorisation Analysis to examine two instances where “guilt” is a matter of local negotiation between parties and where the consequences are purely a matter for the participants at hand: a narrative therapy counseling session and a conversation between friends. In the first site the negotiation is around a participant ‘feeling guilty’ whilst in the second, guilt is attributed to absent third party. Through our analysis we highlight that the interactional work of ascribing and resisting ‘guilt’ is both a routine feature of social interaction and that this routine feature is organised through members’ methodical use of descriptions and accounts embedded in a common sense relationship between individual and categorial actions.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: 2009 Higher Education Research Data Collection
School of Communication and Arts Publications
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Created: Mon, 13 Apr 2009, 12:30:59 EST by Vicky McNicol on behalf of School of Communication and Arts