the Social Practice of Informal Political Talk

in Talking about Politics

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2003 | ISBN: 9780226872186
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226872216 | DOI:
the Social Practice of Informal Political Talk

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This chapter uses the observations of the men at the corner store and the women in the craft guild to provide a descriptive overview of the nature of their talk and demonstrate that this is a social behavior with political implications. It sets the stage for the heart of the empirical analysis in this study by providing the conceptual model derived through the combined methods of inductive observations and deductive survey analysis. In practice, what gets defined as a political conversation is itself a product of the interaction. The “Old Timer”s typically describe “politics” as consisting of elections, debates involving Democrats and Republicans, and occasionally elected officials carrying out their duties. They consider politics as controversy and the stuff of people who lack common sense (where “common” is defined by the way the “Old Timer”s think about the world). Specifically, talking about politics is “opinionated” talk; unless a person holds controversial opinions (opinions that diverge from their own), the conversation is not political.

Keywords: informal talk; political talk; social behavior; inductive observation; Old Timers; opinions

Chapter.  8240 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: US Politics

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