Challenging Normativity: re-appraising category, bound, tied and predicated features
Chapter · March 2015
In book: Advances in Membership Categorisation Analysis, Chapter: Challenging Normativity: re-appraising category, bound, tied and predicated features, Publisher: Sage, Editors: Richard Fitzgerald, william housley
Edward Reynolds at University of New Hampshire
9.15University of New Hampshire
Richard Fitzgerald at University of Macau
19.1University of Macau
Research Membership Categorisation Analysis (MCA) has illustrated a wide and varied used of activities, rights and obligations, variously related to categories and membership devices (Hester and Eglin, 1992b; Jayyusi, 1984). As discussed in the Introduction to this volume, while these were initially described by Sacks (1974) as ‘category bound activities’ and later developed by Watson (1983) as ‘category bound predicates’, little recent attention has been paid to the subtle differences in the ways category features (rights, knowledge, activities, etc.) are deployed. While the term ‘category bound predicate’ has proven immensely useful it has also tended to serve as a catch-all term for all relationships between category features and categories, obscuring the action involved in the use of this category resource. In this chapter we touch off from Sacks’s initial discussion of predicates introduced in the Introduction to this volume and subsequent discussions to explore this relationship further by developing levels of sophistication to understanding the relationship between membership categories and locally invoked associated features. In this instance we examine the way in which participants engaged in a number of public arguments orient to three distinct differences in the types of relationship between categories and category features. In order to explore the use of category features we draw on data taken from public arguments posted on the social media website engaged in what has been described as ‘enticing a challengeable’ (Reynolds, 2011, 2013). The first of these adopts Sacks’s (1995) term ‘category tied’ to refer to the link between category and category feature which is treated by participants as not taken for granted and needing to be made explicit. The second relationship examines the way in which features are treated by members as naturally related to a category, in a taken-for-granted, but nevertheless explicit way. For this link we use Sacks’s (1972a, 1972b) term ‘category-bound’. Thirdly we examine where a category feature is directly implied, by the operation of a membership device or category. For this type of relationship we use ‘category-predicate’ (Hester and Eglin, 1992b). These three different relationships between category features and categories/membership devices are explored through an analysis of the operation of the practice of ‘enticing a challengeable’ (Reynolds, 2013). This term refers to an adversarial method of enacting a strategic manipulation of social knowledge (often using categories and category ties) as a basis for later challenging an opponent’s normativity (again, using norms related to a membership device). This chapter uses the description of these three different forms of relationship between category features and categories/devices to develop the argument that a new level of technical sophistication in the labelling of phenomena is now possible in MCA.