"Who's got the power?" Gaining and granting dominance in conversation




Mintz, Amanda

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In many interactions, one speaker will have a tendency to dominate the conversation. In linguistic theory, this notion is called “conversational dominance,” and it describes one speaker’s tendency to control other speakers’ conversational actions during discourse. This thesis observes the conversations of two groups of university-aged friends in order to explore the reality of this conversational dominance, both how it comes into being in an interaction and how it plays out in conversation. Using the Conversation Analysis (CA) approach to linguistic research, this thesis will (1) describe the methodology involved in the CA approach, (2) discuss relevant literature and linguistic theories pertaining to the topics of conversational dominance, alignment, gender, and teasing, and (3) provide transcribed data of the recordings. This project observes existing research along with the recorded data to argue that conversational dominance is not only something that is claimed by a speaker, as prior research has defined it, but instead it is something that is dialogically constructed among participants in conversation.