Gender, Conversation Analysis, and the Anatomy of Membership Categorization Practices



This paper describes and illustrates recent developments in the study of identity using membership categorization and conversation analysis. It focuses particularly on identifying and unpacking some practices through which people construct gender-based categorial phrases and formulations, and how these practices are put to use to accomplish social actions including accounting, complaining, or denying. Drawing on data from a variety of interactional sites, I show how speakers build different categorial practices from particular component features, within or across a sequence of turns, and how they work to formulate idiomatic-style phrases that ‘package’ cultural knowledge (e.g., “that’s lads for you”, “I would never hit a woman”). When speakers produce such phrases, they invite recipients to display recognition of, or collaboratively develop, the construction of a cultures categories, as the basis for moving through courses of action.