In the heat of the sequence: Interactional features preceding walkouts from argumentative talk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • I. Dersley
  • A.J. Wootton


Publication details

JournalLanguage in Society
DatePublished - Oct 2001
Issue number4
Number of pages27
Pages (from-to)611-638
Original languageEnglish


This article examines complaint sequences that terminate with one party’s walking out, unilaterally, on the other. The analysis of three such extended sequences, using the Conversation Analytic approach, reveals interactional parallels among them. The complaints that precede the walkouts are constructed so as to identify deleterious and generic personal deficiencies. As these sequences develop, they come to focus on faults in the current behavior of those involved. In their final stages, the actions of the leavers appear sensitive to the persistence of behavior that has been deemed to be at fault. This combination of features seems connected to both the unilateral departure and the state of indignation that also becomes evidently present. This invites comparison with other forms of antagonistic dispute, such as those that lead to certain instances of murder.

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2001 Cambridge University Press

    Research areas

  • Argument, complaints, communicationbreakdown, conflict, emotion

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