(Hetero)sexist microaggressions in practice

Lobban, R., Luyt, R. and McDermott, D.T. ORCID: 0000-0001-7005-6446, 2022. (Hetero)sexist microaggressions in practice. Gender and Language, 16 (2), pp. 125-148. ISSN 1747-6321

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Verbal microaggressions are everyday prejudicial comments. They are thought to perpetuate inequalities and have a cumulative negative impact on the wellbeing of members of minoritised groups. To date, little attention has been given to the systematic study of microaggressions as they occur. We seek to address this gap and, in so doing, connect microaggressions research with broader scholarship concerning prejudice and discrimination in situated interaction. In this article, we focus specifically on (hetero)sexist microaggressions (those targeting women and sexual minorities). Conversation analysis (CA) and membership categorisation analysis (MCA) are applied to excerpts of naturally-occurring and focus group conversation in order to determine what (hetero)sexist microaggressions look like in practice; how (hetero)sexist microaggressions affect the courses and outcomes of conversations; and whether (hetero)sexist microaggressions map onto well-documented CA/MCA phenomena. Our findings suggest that when people produce microaggressive utterances, they use a range of devices (e.g., pre-sequences, idioms, humour) to mitigate accountability. Furthermore, on the part of recipients, the treatment of an utterance as microaggressive can involve the hallmarks of dispreferred turns such as hesitation and/or indirect challenges involving deletion or repair initiation. We therefore propose that the presence of such features of speakers’ and/or recipients’ talk might be understood as criteria for an utterance or sequence being considered microaggressive and, relatedly, that microaggressions should be read in dialogue. Moreover, the deployment of such strategies suggests that speakers and recipients are agentic in the (re)production of (hetero)sexism, and therefore may be similarly agentic in effecting change.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Gender and Language
Creators: Lobban, R., Luyt, R. and McDermott, D.T.
Publisher: Equinox Publishing
Date: 21 July 2022
Volume: 16
Number: 2
ISSN: 1747-6321
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 22 Feb 2022 13:49
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2022 10:52
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/45730

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