“He Is No Different from Other Men”: Complimenting and Responding to Compliments through Membership Categorization Practices

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Gahye Song


This brief analysis examines the interactional practice of complimenting and responding to compliments using MCA. The topic is not new; numerous CA studieshave brought to light how people tend to respond to compliments and how such tendencies can be understood in terms of the sequential organization of turn-taking. In American English, for instance, a compliment tends to call for aresponse in the following turn, which downgradespraise or shiftsthe referent (Pomerantz, 1978). While CA’s microanalysisof turn-by-turn interaction has enabled us to “specifythe normative structuring and logics of particular courses of social action” (Heritage, 2005),MCA is gradually gaining the attention of scholars of social interaction for its ability to reveal “members’ methodical practices in describing the world, and displaying their understanding of the world and of the commonsense routine workings of society” (Fitzgerald, Housley, & Butler,2009, p. 47). This paper offersan example of MCAapplied toa compliment-response sequence.

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