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Power and affiliation in presidential press conferences

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Presidential press conference is an enduring form for public interrogations. Interaction in this context regulates and symbolizes relations of power, autonomy and affiliation between the President and the journalists. A general argument is that we have to study sequences of interaction in order to understand the roles and relations established in press conferences. The article investigates interruptions, and jokes and laughter. The study is based on Conversation Analysis and the data encompasses 19 press conferences held by George W Bush from 2005–2007. The analysis shows how the President uses interruptions in order to control the allocation of turns, disagree and reject criticism, demonstrate certainty and conviction, and makes joke with the journalists. Sequences of jokes and laughter strengthen the interactive power of the President, create affiliations, and questioning the expected neutrality of journalism.
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Keywords: affiliation; interaction; interruption; jokes; journalism; laughter; power; press conference

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 15, 2009

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