Disputing with Care: Analysing Interviewees' Treatment of Interviewers' Prior Turns in Televised Political Interviews

Discourse Studies 3 (2):203-222 (2001)
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A wide range of previous research has pointed out important interactional features of televised political interviews including the cooperative dimensions to encounters between interviewers and interviewees and the extent to which news interviews differ to everyday conversation. Drawing upon an analysis of 29 televised political interviews broadcast in the UK, this article seeks to build on such work. A preliminary quantitative inspection of the data suggested that a sizeable minority of interviewee responses `hearably' challenged the prior interviewer turn. A conversation analytic approach to the turn-response pairs suggested that whilst a wide range of interviewer turns were potentially vulnerable to such problematizing moves - the challenges made were often boundaried. That is, in making challenges, interviewees typically refrained from developing them in highly personalized terms; they often raised them in passing and, in cases where the interviewee refused to cooperate with interviewers, they typically did so by producing a justification. Further analysis suggested that both interviewers and interviewees did not take the steps to ward off disagreement commonly found in everyday conversation - instead both interviewer and interviewee seemed to orientate to the normality of disagreement. This picture of `boundaried but normalized' challenge was made sense of in terms of different preference structures to those found in everyday talk in which both interviewee and interviewer were understood as skilfully orientating to the normativity of challenges whilst safeguarding the interview structure itself.



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