“He Is No Different from Other Men”: Complimenting and Responding to Compliments through Membership Categorization Practices

Gahye Song


This brief analysis examines the interactional practice of complimenting and responding to compliments using MCA. The topic is not new; numerous CA studies have brought to light how people tend to respond to compliments and how such tendencies can be understood in terms of the sequential organization of turn-taking. In American English, for instance, a compliment tends to call for a response in the following turn, which downgrades praise or shifts the referent (Pomerantz, 1978). While CA’s microanalysis of turn-by-turn interaction has enabled us to “specify the normative structuring and logics of particular courses of social action” (Heritage, 2005), MCA is gradually gaining the attention of scholars of social interaction for its ability to reveal “members’ methodical practices in describing the world, and displaying their understanding of the world and of the commonsense routine workings of society” (Fitzgerald, Housley, & Butler, 2009, p. 47). This paper offers an example of MCA applied to a compliment-response sequence.

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