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

Jack B. Joyce, Linda Walz

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)
    91 Downloads (Pure)


    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.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)562-587
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2022


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


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