Resistance in public disputes: third-turn blocking to suspend progressivity

Jack B Joyce

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When people argue they routinely challenge the opinions, views, and attitudes of one another, they seek to cast the other as the aggressor or party at fault, and otherwise exert social control. This article illustrates how members work to hamper challenges, evade control, or avoid being negatively characterised by systematically blocking access to a turn in the third position and stopping their opponent’s agenda. Examining 100 hours of public disputes (public transport, protestor interactions, and radio call-ins) in varieties of English, I use membership categorisation analysis and conversation analysis to unpack resistance as part of the structural organisation of disputes. I identify two methods of resisting an agenda: (1) passively, whereby a responsive turn stalls the progressivity of the interaction, and (2) actively, whereby a responsive turn disaligns to outrightly suspend the progressivity of the interaction. I discuss how resistance sequentially unfolds across turns, and as an interactional phenomenon which solves the trouble of a challenge. Overall, this article contributes to social interaction research on resistance, public disputes and how social order is constituted in and through talk-in-interaction.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDiscourse Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 5 Oct 2021


  • disputes
  • conflict-talk
  • resistance
  • conversation analysis
  • membership categorisation analysis
  • English


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