Using Laugh Responses to Defuse Complaints

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70 Citations (Scopus)


This research uses conversation analysis to explore a collection of extracts from telephone calls involving laughter as a response in a sequence characterized by complaining. In these instances, the laugh responses fail to align with the complaint in progress and are somewhat disaffiliative (in that they do not display the same stance as that taken by the complainant). However, they do not strongly disaffiliate; they do not, for example, overtly disagree with complaint-relevant assessments produced in prior turns. In this way, recipients of a complaint work to display a somewhat discordant stance to that of the teller, and to discourage further development of the topic in progress while maintaining social solidarity. Thus, the current research adds to the finding (see also Drew, 1987, and Jefferson, Sacks, & Schegloff, 1987) that laughter can be located somewhere in the middle of a continuum ranging from overt affiliation to disaffiliation (Glenn, 2003, ch. 6).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)430-448
Number of pages19
JournalResearch on Language and Social Interaction
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


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