Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice, Vol 10, No 3 (2013)

The job seeker as a moral category: Categorization, moral judgments and emotions in institutional encounters

Julia Velkovska, Moustafa Zouinar
Issued Date: 12 Dec 2017


Drawing on ethnomethodology, conversation analysis and membership categorization analysis, the paper explores how ordinary moral judgments and emotions are intertwined with professional assessments in the structure of institutional interactions. Based on video recordings of interviews between unemployed people and counselors representing the French Public Employment Agency, the analysis focuses on the moment-by-moment organization of judgmental work and its embeddedness in bodily conduct, especially through expression of emotions. Following on Jayyusi’s concept of “asymmetric category pair” (Jayyusi 1984) the paper investigates the relationships between categorization, judgment and emotion. The paper highlights two findings: Firstly, professional assessments can take the form of ordinary moral judgments at precise sequential moments in the organization of these institutional interactions. Secondly, emotions appear as practically bound to judgmental work and have interactional consequences for the sequential organization of the interview. The sequential analysis of video data reveals structural aspects of professional judgmental work and of institutional action in “processing cases”, notably their moral, emotional and relational dimensions that would otherwise remain inaccessible.

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DOI: 10.1558/japl.26892


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