Abstract Saul Albert 5 December 2016

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Are conversational assessment sequences evaluative?

Saul Albert, MAT PhD Student QMUL

Assessment sequences, where someone ostensibly expresses like or dislike are core CA phenomena, but do they actually constitute evaluative actions? Analyses of the preference organisation of agreements and disagreements with assessments inform CA studies of how participants index respective rights to do evaluations. However, the evaluative action is usually attributed to the use of prospective adjacent pairs of conventionally 'assessing terms': a somewhat circular definition. This talk focuses on gallery visitors’ copresent assessments to show how such assessments are organised as reflexively accountable and only retroactively evaluative actions. Assessments, noticings, and other retro-sequential structures are therefore especially useful for doing (and analysing) ‘defeasible’ actions, where participants work to remain equivocal about their current actions, participation roles, and interactional foci. CA studies of action formation and ascription have noted the difficulties of ‘coding’ such actions into clear 'types'. This presentation shows how participants themselves produce this obscurity as an interactional resource.

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