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The findings are often presented as summaries or frequency counts of what happened in general rather than how it happened , and thus run the risk of recapitulating common sense see KOROBOV, In contrast, my goal is not to simply offer arguments that support the general finding that couples use certain methods to pursue intimacy, nor is it to lay out frequency counts of such strategies.

Rather, it is to detail how and when certain forms of talk are made relevant, and what such doings interactively accomplish for the couples. The benefit of such a micro-analytic focus is that it addresses the "how" question, it binds the claims to actual data, it reveals rather than conceals how the analysis was conducted, it invites reflexive re-interpretations, and it provides a concrete model for analyzing similar segments of data. The project reported from was part of a larger series of studies interested in intimacy, identity, and romantic attraction in young adults.

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Proper IRB approval was secured and proper ethical protocol was followed at all times, including the provision of safety, privacy, and anonymity for all of the participants. Young adult couples ages were recruited from a large university in the Southeast USA through word of mouth, posters, and e-mails. To be eligible to participate, all couples had to report being in a committed romantic relationship for at least 6 months. Though the study was open to both heterosexual and homosexual couples, all of the couples that agreed to participate were heterosexual.

The resulting participant pool was comprised of 20 heterosexual romantic couples from the university and the local community. For reasons discussed above, my aim was to procure data from natural settings rather than researcher moderated interviews or questionnaires. Participants were told that they would be participating in a study interested in the conversations that take place between young adult couples in the spaces of their everyday home-lives.

Each couple was given a digital audio recorder to take home for two weeks with the instruction to simply turn the recorder on whenever they were hanging out i. In sum, each couple produced an average of approximately 7 hours of recorded conversational interaction, for a total of approximately hours of conversational data.

Dueling Discourses The Construction of Reality in Closing Arguments

In our first pass of the data, we were immediately struck with the amount of playful conflict that seemed to be present in the couple's conversations. When we isolated these segments, we began to notice that these particular types of conflicts often took the form of criticisms and insinuations of infidelity. We began our analysis by first culling from the data all stretches of interaction that included criticisms and insinuations of infidelity of one partner towards another.

Coders were the first author and two graduate students. To achieve an acceptable rate of agreement, only segments that were over 20 seconds in length were included.

In sum, 45 segments of criticisms and 25 segments of insinuations of infidelity were reliably identified and extracted. Like SCHIFFRIN's analysis of "sociable disagreements," the criticisms and infidelity insinuations in this corpus were often laced with laughter, rekeyed at various points through irony, and almost always terminated quickly with playful non sequiturs and topic shifts, and rarely ever returned to in the conversation.

Most functioned as preliminaries for affiliation, and most were highly gendered. With respect to insinuations of infidelity, there often appeared to be a 5-part sequential design. This 5-part sequential design was not expected, but inductively emerged as the infidelity insinuation segments were closely analyzed. As noted earlier, discourse analysts look for patterns in talk and texts. Patterns reflect regularities, and regularities constitute culture. The sequential design is:. In the pattern above, insinuations of infidelity Step 3 typically occur after a request-rejection sequence Steps The insinuations are typically treated as absurd Step 4 , and are dismissed.

Several robust examples of criticisms and insinuations of infidelity are presented. The first three excerpts in this section feature criticisms that involve the policing of gender norm violations. In the first except, F criticizes M for preferring "girly" alcoholic drinks.

M's management of F's teasing is particularly telling. I just drink manly man drinks.

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F criticizes M for drinking "girly" drinks margaritas and mojitos and for the hypocrisy of teasing his friend Brad for drinking girly drinks. The fascinating part of the exchange, however, is the way M manages F's critique. He does so by assuming a faux-defensive position that is markedly tongue-in-cheek, and thus self-deprecating, in several key places. For instance, in line 13, he pauses and with a dramatic and metered affect adds the colloquially "you can suck it" idiom, which indexes a juvenile, intentionally-staged ironic comeback. In lines and 19, M again slows his speech, sets up a rhetorical question "you wanna know why?


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It keys the conflict that may result from F's criticisms as non-serious, and his position as playfully going along for the ride. In line 23, he again stylizes a faux matter-of-factness " was actu:ally " , which mocks the earnestness of the argument, and then adds another colloquially juvenile comeback tag "so you are dumb". In sum, M neither distances himself from the stereotypical masculine position nor does he embrace it fully.

As is the case with most of these excerpts, the content of the criticism is not what is central. This is not really about M's alcoholic preference, nor is it simply about whether M is really a man or not. It is true that F is holding M accountable to gender norms related to masculinity and alcohol preferences, but not in an adversarial way; instead, she's having a go at M, which is a common interaction ritual for couples. M is able to playfully react enough to F's positioning to keep her performance going, but not so much that it becomes caustic or volatile.

While this comes off quite seamlessly and elegantly, it is an elegant orchestration for the purposes of keeping their interaction playful. The positions being worked up and deflected here thus function to engender relational affiliation and play. The interaction thus stays buoyant, which is made clear as it ends with F offering her own sarcastic and colloquially Southern USA idiom "bless your heart," which aligns with M's playful mocking tone.

This next excerpt picks up about three minutes after where the first has left off. The same topic is spontaneously reintroduced by M in line 3, but this time the tables become turned as M polices and thus criticizes F around gender norms related to women gaining weight.

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I didn't say I was gonna drink it all the time,. In line , M returns to the topic as he emphasizes that he's " totally " going to "drink a margarita ," that it will his " first drink," and that he will do so "as a man. In a tit-for-tat response style, F immediately counters by orienting to a traditionally masculine position "gonna drink a bunch of beers" , a position that stands as a poignant foil to M's.

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The tables are then turned in line 6 as M broaches the topic of women gaining weight by setting up the conditional that drinking beers is '"a'ight" if F wants to get fat, a stance he later line amplifies by construing an overweight acquaintance of theirs "big Susan" as the face of an overweight beer drinking women. As in the previous excerpt, what stands out is the way the recipient of the gender norm policing manages the criticism in order to avoid disaffiliation.

It's playful and designed to be heard as a feature of a silly perturbance, which provides distance from the insult, making accountable the non-serious nature of their banter. Then, in lines , she shifts into a caricatured form of the blackcent vernacular affective speech style, which is designed to appear overdone, and thus ironic. Her laughter line 16 in response to M's mention of Susan also works to distance her from the projected alignment with Susan, as does the differentiating "well" move in which she notes "you ain't seen me drink beer.

What we have here yet again is a policing of potentially adversarial gendered identity positions by the couple, but taken up and managed in a way that maintains affiliation, thus preserving the possibility for playful affiliation. In the next excerpt, M is preparing food in the kitchen when F comes in and starts to take over, which upsets M, resulting in M criticizing F for "trying to take the fuck over here. I figured out. The excerpt begins with M criticizing F for usurping his kitchen duties, but quickly turns into F launching a tongue-in-cheek criticism of M for feigning egalitarianism.

F calls M's attempt to appear to help out a "trick," and she positions herself as self-satisfied that she has figured it out. The play frame has thus been set up; F has caught M pretending to be something that he is not, and she takes pleasure in exposing him. The bulk of F's contribution comes in lines as she recounts a story where M manipulated his sister into taking over the kitchen duties so that he could "sit back and drink a beer.

She not only employs a smile-voice and laughed-through deliveries, exaggerated reported speech, hyperbole, profanity laced with knowing exasperation, but also self-referential amusement at her own story.

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In short, F is performing something like a roast of M. Because it is set up in this frame, it is inoculated against appearing genuinely confrontational. M is thus able to playfully display ignorance at each of his turns, a move that works in concert with her performance of calling him out, thus creating an affiliative repartee. Exposing someone works more seamlessly if the other feigns resistance by playing dumb. M obliges which is important as part of the dance of maintaining closeness , and by the end, F has policed the male gender role, and with a light touch she has playfully circumscribed M back into it.

The last two excerpts involve criticisms that play off of the couple's formulation and supplanting of gender stereotypes that are generally culturally recognized as disparaging. The next excerpt opens with M flipping through the television channels while F types on her computer. The criticisms here involve M scripting F as someone who is regularly bitchy and F scripting M as being a predictable male pervert.

M orients to F's evaluation of his channel choices as a potential criticism of him for choosing "all" "sexy underwear ads," and responds lines with a turn initial emphatic disagreement token " no " followed by a dispositional scripting EDWARDS, , of F as someone predisposed to habitually seek out things "t'bitch at me about.

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M's reply follows in kind, and is formulated as a non-sequitur rejoinder that recycles the terminal bit of F's turn, thus indexing the idiomatic "no you are" rejoinder common in playful conflict exchanges. F recognizes it and jokingly calls it out as a staged attempt at a "comeback" line 8. We are thus arguably in the arena of play at this point, a frame that holds throughout the rest of the excerpt. M's casual "yep" rejoinder ratifies F's interpretation, and F's topic shift line 10 , the long pauses lines 11 and 13 , and M's ironic use of suppression or "biting the tongue"; see GOUGH, in line 12 solidify the play frame.

F's dispositional and gendered scripting of M in line 14 as a predictably perverted boy is, interestingly, not only instantly owned by M line 15 , but is owned with a kind of matter-of-factness "course" that constructs male perverseness as normative and thus expected, at least within the play frame. The play frame assures that M's position is hearable as ironic, thus preserving plausible deniability, which is key in moments where the relational dynamic is less about the content of their identities per se, and more about the form or style of the relational dance.