Accounting for moral judgments in academic talk: The case of a conversation analysis data session

Charles Antaki 1 , 1 , Michela Biazzi 2 , 2 , Anette Nissen 3 , 3  and Johannes Wagner 4 , 4
  • 1 Discourse and Rhetoric Group.
  • 2 University of Pavia (Italy).
  • 3 Aarhus University, Denmark.
  • 4 University of Southern Denmark, Kolding.


This article explores one aspect of scholarly work as a situated practice: the way that, in a conversation analysis group data session, scholars juggle their technical talk with personal value judgments ostensibly inappropriate to the practices of this particular branch of the social sciences. We see how value judgments are handled, and what visible part they play in proceeding with the formal, institutionally provided for, technical analysis. In the case we explore, some members of a routine data session (the authors) expressed negative evaluative views of the actions of a participant in the video they were analyzing, which at various points they characterized as ‘cynical’, ‘begging’, and ‘a shocker’. We show the data-session participants' orientation to these moral judgments, and their search for resolution in safely technical terms. Our interest is in bringing to light the workings of a routine piece of scholarly teamwork, not often subject to scrutiny; and to reveal how accountability plays its part in scholars' management of competing institutional, and personal, identities.

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Text & Talk (founded as TEXT in 1981) is an internationally recognized forum for interdisciplinary research in language, discourse, and communication studies, focusing, among other things, on the situational and historical nature of text/talk production; the cognitive and sociocultural processes of language practice/action; and participant-based structures of meaning negotiation and multimodal alignment.