Affiliation in Conversation


Örebro University


University of Helsinki


In a widely-cited passage, Heritage (1984b: 269) writes:

Preferred format actions are normally affiliative in character while dispreferred format actions are disaffiliative. Similarly, while preferred format actions are generally supportive of social solidarity, dispreferred format actions are destructive of it. As we shall see, the uniform recruitment of specific features of turn design to preferred and dispreferred action types is probably related to their affiliative and disaffiliative characters.

The terms affiliative and disaffiliative are used here to capture a general feature of interaction and social relations that are tied to the organization of preference (Pomerantz & Heritage, this volume). The claim is not that affiliative actions are invariably formatted as preferred but rather that the distributional pattern across data is such that turns that deliver affiliative actions tend to be designed as preferred and vice-versa (see Heritage, 1984b). In other words, analysis of responses to a range of different first actions such as requests, offers/invitations, assessments, self-deprecations, accusations, and blamings suggests an association between the formatting of an action and the stance taken (e.g. Davidson, 1984; Drew, 1984; Heritage, 1984b, 1988; Levinson, 1983; Pomerantz, 1975, 1978a, 1984a; Sacks, 1987; Schegloff, 1988c, 2007b).

In example (1) ...

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