Crying and Crying Responses

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

37 Scopus citations


This chapter focuses on crying as an interactional phenomenon. It overviews traditional work on crying, highlighting its limitations, and contrasts an interactional approach illustrated with material from both mundane and institutional telephone calls. Crying on the telephone is characterised in terms of a collection of loosely associated and sometimes escalating practices: silences, sniffs, elevated pitch, tremulous or creaky delivery, reduced volume, increased aspiration and sobbing. This chapter documents the delicate interactional challenges involved in recognizing and responding to crying, and how these are fitted to the ongoing projects of the participants. The use of sympathy tokens, sympathetically inflected news receipts and turns that normalize the actions of the person crying are common. The complex practice of displaying empathy is discussed and its procedural and epistemic aspects highlighted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEmotion in Interaction
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199950034
ISBN (Print)9780199730735
StatePublished - Sep 20 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


  • Crying
  • Discursive psychology
  • Emotion
  • Empathy
  • Helplines
  • Sobbing
  • Sympathy
  • Upset


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