Good News, Bad News, and Affect

Douglas W. Maynard and Jeremy Freese

in Emotion in Interaction

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199730735
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950034 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Sociolinguistics

Good News, Bad News, and Affect

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When we deliver or receive bad and good tidings, it momentarily disrupts involvement in a social world whose contours and features we ordinarily take for granted. Along with this disruption more or less strong emotions may be evoked and displayed. This chapter examines how participants in interaction manage affective experiences and reactions according to the unfolding of a prototypical four-turn news delivery sequence (NDS). Participants present and receive news with characteristic prosodic features associated with joy (good news) or sorrow (bad news) in each of the turns. The chapter addresses theoretical literatures in the sociology and social psychology of emotions and suggests, along the lines of the social construction of affect and emotion, that there is practical and temporal work to manage displays of emotion. This work operates in conjunction with other devices whereby participants interactionally establish the valence of the news.

Keywords: bad news; good news; affect; emotion; social construction; prosody

Chapter.  9238 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Sociolinguistics

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