This study investigates the sequentially occasioned provision of what I term ‘category accounts’ in interaction. Category accounts tap into and make use of normative assumptions about identities and membership categories in order to explain away moments of what the participants view as category deviance. To introduce this concept, I focus on sequences in which speakers’ initiations of repair (e.g., Huh?) are oriented to as indicative of a problem of understanding. In the cases examined here, recipients of such initiations of repair treat divergence from some gender/sexuality norm as the source of the misunderstanding, which is revealed through their attempt to resolve the trouble by providing a category account, thereby closing the repair sequence and providing for the resumption of progressivity. These and similar accounting sequences are thus a means through which participants collaboratively normalize momentary departures from normativity, while at the same time reconstituting what exactly constitutes ‘normativity’ and ‘departures therefrom’, and for whom.
Chase Wesley Raymond holds PhDs in Hispanic Linguistics (2014) and Sociology (2016), both from UCLA, and is currently Assistant Professor of Linguistics at the University of Colorado, Boulder. His research interests lie at the intersection of language and (different facets of) social identity and normativity, in both ordinary and institutional interaction. Recent and forthcoming publications include articles in Language, Research on Language & Social Interaction, Language in Society, and the Journal of Sociolinguistics.
Sponsored by the IHC’s Language, Interaction and Social Organization (LISO) Research Focus Group and Department of Sociology