Chapter published in:How Emotions Are Made in Talk
Edited by Jessica S. Robles and Ann Weatherall
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 321] 2021
► pp. 263–286
Chapter 3.4Affect and accountability
Pain displays as a resource for action
Hesitance among conversation analysts and other interaction scholars to explicitly link pain with emotion may stem from a conceptual dualism separating the body from the mind that has underpinned much work on emotion. Focusing on pain displays in primary care physical exams, I investigate the boundaries of this divide. I argue that pain displays allow speakers to accomplish actions ‘off-record’ that might otherwise be seen as socially or interactionally problematic. The social mechanism (i.e. the societal ‘cogs and wheels’) underlying this interactional affordance is the same one underlying displays of emotion. Affective displays work because, although they are observably controllable, they are oriented to as automatic reactions rather than accountable actions. This study joins other work in the sociology of pain to shed light on what it means for pain to be at least partially an ‘emotion in a social context.’ Without pain’s affective component – that is, without our view that a person displays pain because they are suffering – pain would cease to be the action-oriented resource it is.
Keywords: pain, emotion, affect, accountability, social mechanism, interactional affordance, Cartesian dualism, physical examination, doctor-patient communication, primary care, sociology of pain, sociology of emotion
- 2.1The ontology of pain: Physical sensation or emotion?
- 2.2From ontology to interaction
- 2.3Pain displays as an action-oriented resource
- 3.Data and method
- 4.1Freestanding pain displays
- 4.2Turn-initial pain displays
- 4.3Turn-medial pain displays
- 4.4Sequence-final pain displays
Published online: 12 May 2021
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