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Membership Categorisation Analysis: Developing Awareness of Categories and their Consequences

Whittle, A.; Mueller, F.

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Authors

A. Whittle



Contributors

Erika Darics
Editor

Abstract

This chapter outlines an approach to the study of categorisation in language practice grounded in the work of American sociologist Harvey Sacks known as Membership Categorisation Analysis. MCA proposes that categories and their associated ‘normative orders’ are not simply stored in people’s heads; they are used as part of the accomplishment of practical tasks in various social settings. Thus, MCA focuses on how categories are used to do things within talk and text, such as criticising, complaining, praising, encouraging, inviting, commending, blaming, and so on. Moreover, we also propose that power relations can be central to the study of categories. We demonstrate this in a political context through analysis of a political speech made by the previous British Prime Minister, Theresa May. We show that May’s category-based reasoning about social injustice was used to appeal to a sense of social solidarity and moral responsibility of ‘the fortunate’ to help the ‘less fortunate’ in society. We conclude that MCA has value for students and practitioners of language because no other approach comes as close to the study of how categories are used in talk and text in real-life situations.

Citation

Whittle, A., & Mueller, F. (2022). Membership Categorisation Analysis: Developing Awareness of Categories and their Consequences. In E. Darics (Ed.), Language Awareness in Business and the Professions (183-203). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108696159.014

Acceptance Date Jun 22, 2020
Online Publication Date Jul 28, 2022
Publication Date 2022-07
Deposit Date Jun 22, 2020
Publicly Available Date Jan 28, 2023
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Pages 183-203
Book Title Language Awareness in Business and the Professions
DOI https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108696159.014
Public URL https://durham-repository.worktribe.com/output/1656987

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Accepted Book Chapter (606 Kb)
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Copyright Statement
This material has been published in Language Awareness in Business and the Professions edited by Erika Darics. This version is free to view and download for personal use only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works. © Cambridge University Press 2022







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