On developing a systematic methodology for analyzing categories in talk-in-interaction: Sequential categorization analysis

Cade Bushnell


In this essay, I discuss one direction for developing a systematic, data-grounded analysis of categories in talk-in-interaction. This framework is developed around two main analytical foci. The first examines how the participants themselves work to publicly associate some set of normatively and morally accountable actions, rights, obligations, entitlements, attributes, etc. (i.e., category-bound predicates; see, e.g., Jayyusi 1984; Sacks 1972a, 1972b, 1979, 1992; Watson 1978) to the various turn- and sequence-generated categories built up by their actions-in-talk, and to explicit categorial formulations (i.e., labels, metonyms, descriptions, etc.) and their indexers. The second is concerned with how the participants recognizably and relevantly accomplish the sequential organization and turn by turn management of their categorization work. The notions of rhetorical (see Edwards 1991, 1997, 1998), conditional (Schegloff 1968, 1972), and retro-relevance (see Schegloff 2007a on ‘retro-sequences’), along with response priority (Bilmes 1993, 1995; see also Bilmes 1988) are introduced as sequential analytical tools for developing a systematic, data-based analysis of these practices.

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