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Transparent Discursive Effects in Argument Talk Construction: A Multiple Categorisation Analysis

Fitzpatrick, Oscar (2019) Transparent Discursive Effects in Argument Talk Construction: A Multiple Categorisation Analysis. Manchester Metropolitan University. (Unpublished)


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In this article, argument talk is considered from a discursive perspective, utilising Lacanian and Gadamerian theory. Argument talk between a mother and daughter in 3 familial contexts was analysed to explore how talk is locally constructed by participants mobilising socially constructed discourses through micro discursive practices. Data from everyday arguments was collected from the Santa Barbara Corpus for Spoken American English and analysed using Multiple Categorisation Analysis, a form of analysis that highlights how talk participants perform discursive “work” by establishing categories that infer governing social and moral knowledge. Argument talk was seen to be constructed gradually and motivated over the course of sequential discursive work. Because of this, discursive work is argued to motivate argument talk through the construction of narratives that undermine participant’s conceptions of self and world. Talk is thus conceptualised as a constructive process of a “fusion of horizons” (Gadamer, 2004) which is guided, in a Lacanian sense, by the governing social contexts that are mobilised therein (Zizek, 2006).Argument talk was found to construct, and to be constructed, through narratives that obscure a discursive conception of talk, being constructed instead through an essentialist epistemology in which “argument claims” are understood to be embodied within talk participants. Further, as argument talk became more volatile, this epistemology becomes more prevalent, leading to further escalation and perpetuation of argument talk. To this end, a case is made for argument talk to be understood in discursive contexts, the use of Gadamerian and Lacanian theory in discursive research, and the place of discursive therapy in countenance of governing discourses in everyday talk.

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