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Membership categorization and storytelling

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In this paper, we demonstrate how the collaborative and sequential unfolding of a story ties into the constitution of a membership categorization device which we have glossed as ‘us and them’. The data come from a focus group activity where first and second generation immigrants to Denmark have been asked to discuss their situation in Denmark. Using Ethnomethodological Conversation and Membership Categorization Analysis, we present one story which involves a story-teller and his family and an elderly Danish couple living in the same block of flats. In the telling of the story, co-participants align and affiliate, and disalign and disaffiliate, at sequentially relevant junctions. We will argue that not only do such phenomena indicate listenership and possible agreement to the moral of the story in its telling, but also to the morally implicative categorical work involved in the story’s telling.

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Keywords: affiliation; alignment; categorization device; category and sequence; membership categorization; moral (of story); moral implication

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 22, 2019

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