Picking fights with politicians: categories, partitioning and the achievement of antagonism

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
JournalPragmatics
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 25 Oct 2021
In 2016 the UK held a divisive referendum on its membership of the European Union. In the aftermath, difference and division were rife in politics and in everyday life. This article explores how such difference and division play out in and through interaction through examining a citizen ‘picking a fight’ with a politician over how Brexit has been handled. Drawing on membership categorisation analysis we show how antagonism is interactionally accomplished. The analysis focuses on three categorial strategies which interlocutors use to achieve antagonism: establishing omnirelevant devices, categories and their predicates; explicitly challenging category membership; and partitioning a population. Beyond offering insights into moments of social life that are not easily captured, the findings contribute to an empirical conceptualisation of antagonism and illustrate how membership categorisation analysis can shed light on its interactional achievement.

    Research areas

  • Antagonism, Membership categorisation analysis, Conflict, Brexit, Social interaction, Political discourse

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External organisations

  • Ulster University

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