Preference organization of sequence-initiating actions: The case of explicit account solicitations

Jeffrey D. Robinson, Galina B. Bolden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


This article extends prior conversation analytic research on the preference organization of sequence-initiating actions. Across two languages (English and Russian), this article examines one such action: explicitly soliciting an account for human conduct (predominantly with why-type interrogatives). Prior work demonstrates that this action conveys a challenging stance towards the warrantability of the accountable event/conduct (Bolden and Robinson, forthcoming). When addressees are somehow responsible for the accountable event/conduct, explicit solicitations of accounts are frequently critical of, and thus embody disaffiliation with, addressees. This article demonstrates that, when explicit solicitations of accounts embody disaffiliation, they are systematically 'withheld' and, thus, can be characterized as 'dispreferred' actions. This article also examines: a) deviant cases, where account solicitations are not withheld, which is a practice for embodying aggravated disaffiliation; and b) negative cases, where account solicitations actually embody affiliation, and as such are typically treated as preferred actions and not withheld.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)501-533
Number of pages33
JournalDiscourse Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics and Language


  • accounts
  • conversation analysis
  • disaffiliation
  • other initiation of repair
  • preference
  • transition space

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