Whatever happened to preference organisation?

Ronald Boyle

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    37 Citations (Scopus)


    Preference organisation was once a prominent concept in conversation analysis, but it has been construed in a number of mutually incompatible ways and it is now used in a very restricted manner. With the publication of Harvey Sacks' collected lectures, however, it has been possible to take a fresh look at the concept and to provide a criterion of preference. This paper shows that preference can be explained in terms of noticeable absence and accountability. The preferred action is the "seen but unnoticed" action (Garfinkel, 1967), whereas the dispreferred action is of two types. The first is noticeable and accountable, but not sanctionable, while the second is noticeable, accountable and sanctionable. The paper shows how this concept operates in three key lectures by Sacks and in data extracts.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)583-604
    Number of pages22
    JournalJournal of Pragmatics
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2000


    • Conversation analysis
    • Discourse
    • English
    • Ethnomethodology
    • Preference

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Language and Linguistics
    • Linguistics and Language
    • Artificial Intelligence


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