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The Handbook of Conversation Analysis by Tanya Stivers, Jack Sidnell

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16

 Emotion, Affect and Conversation

JOHANNA RUUSUVUORI

University of Tampere

Introduction

This chapter investigates emotion as an emergent theme in conversation analytic research. It depicts how emotion in social interaction can be described using the methods of Conversation Analysis; how Conversation Analysis of these phenomena can contribute to an understanding of emotion in social interaction; and how investigation of emotion in social interaction can benefit the analysis of conversation in general. Dealing with emotion, either subjectively felt or displayed by others, is an ever-present concern of participants in social situations and is thus an important aspect in analyzing conversation (cf. Goffman, 1961).

In investigating emotion with CA, it is necessary to demonstrate that the participants of a conversation orient to some features of conversation as affective (cf. Local & Walker, 2008; see also Edwards, 1999a). This may be challenging for several reasons. First of all, emotion is not necessarily made explicit through words and grammar. Although all talk is affective to some extent, emotion is seldom the central focus of the ongoing activity. Emotional aspects of interaction, such as laugh tokens, an emotional tone of voice, affective lexical choices and/or facial expressions, are intertwined with spoken utterances and constitute an important resource for interpreting an action as emotional.

Second, topicalizing emotion may be considered a delicate issue in conversation. ...

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