Picking fights with politicians

  • Jack Joyce (Speaker)
  • Linda Walz (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


In 2016 the UK held a divisive referendum on its membership of the European Union, commonly known as “Brexit”. In the aftermath, difference and division were rife in politics and in everyday life. This presentation explores how such difference and division play out in social interaction through examining a citizen ‘picking a fight’ with a politician over how Brexit has been handled. Drawing on membership categorisation analysis, an ethnomethodological approach which studies the categorisation and reasoning practices of interlocutors, ie. how people in social interaction assemble ‘who-they-are’ and ‘what-they’re-doing’, we show how antagonism is interactionally accomplished. Our analysis focuses on three categorial strategies which interlocutors use to achieve antagonism: establishing omnirelevant devices, categories and their predicates; explicitly challenging category membership; and partitioning a population. Beyond offering insights into moments of social life that are not easily captured, the findings contribute to an empirical conceptualisation of antagonism and illustrate how membership categorisation analysis can shed light on its interactional achievement.
Period8 Nov 2021
Held atUniversity of Jyvaskyla, Finland
Degree of RecognitionInternational