Chapter published in:Interactional Studies of Qualitative Research Interviews
Edited by Kathryn Roulston
[Not in series 220] 2019
► pp. 239–268
Discourse strategies of mitigation in an oral corpus of narratives of life experience collected in interviews
Taking as reference an oral corpus in European Portuguese constituted by twenty-three narratives of life experience gathered under the frame of a sociological research project developed in the North of Portugal, this chapter analyses the strategic use of linguistic mitigation devices in the interviewer’s actions and in the interviewees’ answers followed by justifications. Narratives occurring in research interviews are part of a testimonial discourse. In the development of the topics that concern interviewees’ lifestyles and housing conditions, we can identify the occurrence of sequences of justification with the use of a “membership categorization device” that speakers use to construct identities in talk and to invoke common places to deal with dilemmas brought by the questions that occur during the interview.This chapter seeks to demonstrate that the narratives of life experiences are the result of collaborative work in jointly constructing the sense given by the interviewer and the interviewee. As such, the analysis of discourse segments that show the “conversational involvement” (Goffman 1981; Gumperz 1982) of participants in the research interviews has contributed to the debate on the specific discourse practices taking place within these interactional research contexts in the Social Sciences.
Keywords: research interviews, membership categorization analysis, footing, sequences of justification, mitigation, discourse strategies
Published online: 25 March 2019