`Identity' attracts some of social science's liveliest and most passionate debates. Theory abounds on matters as disparate as nationhood, ethnicity, gender politics and culture. However, there is considerably less investigation into how such identity issues appear in the fine grain of everyday life. This book gathers together, in a collection of chapters drawing on ethnomethodology and conversation analysis, arguments which show that identities are constructed `live' in the actual exchange of talk. By closely examining tapes and transcripts of real social interactions from a wide range of situations, the volume explores just how it is that a person can be ascribed to a category and what features about that category are cons

Identity Ascriptions in Their Time and Place: ‘Fagin’ and ‘The Terminally Dim’

Identity Ascriptions in Their Time and Place: ‘Fagin’ and ‘The Terminally Dim’

Identity ascriptions in their time and place: ‘Fagin’ and ‘the terminally dim’

In this chapter I want to have a look at identity ascription – calling someone this-or-that outright – when it is done jocularly. That is, when it is done by calling someone a name in such a way as to shy away from an accusation that one really meant it. It might seem at first blush that this sort of identity talk, since it is meant to be non-literal, and therefore – apparently – invokes things not there in the recorded talk, must play on ‘culture’, and perhaps on people's ‘private meanings’. But I shall try to argue that even though it ...

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