Resistance in Talk-in-Interaction

Investigating resistance as a response to persuasive attempts


Funding Body

  • British Psychology Society Pump Priming and Dissemination Fund
  • York St John Outreach Grant
  • Loughborough University’s Research Culture Fund

About the Project

Alongside social influence, resistance is a cornerstone social psychological topic. To date, there is no agreement among social psychologists on what resistance is and how it should be studied. Resistance has been discussed in relation to crowd behaviour (Drury, Reicher, & Stott, 2003) and oppressive social influence (Reicher & Haslam, 2006).

Here resistance has been treated as a feature of group rather than individual action and has been related to issues of empowerment and legitimacy (Drury & Reicher, 2009).

At the interpersonal level, five different understandings of resistance have been put forward (Brinol, Rucker, Tormala, & Petty, 2004):

  • As an individual trait
  • As a motivation (having the goal of not being persuaded)
  • As a feature (the strength) of an attitude
  • As the unsuccessful result of an attempt to influence a person’s behaviour (see also Gibson, 2019)
  • As a response to a persuasive attempt (see also McGuire & Papageorgis, 1962)

Understanding resistance as a response to a persuasive attempt opens up new interdisciplinary avenues for research by considering the communicative processes that underpin persuasive communication, thus paving the way for an interdisciplinary perspective to the study of resistance as an interactional phenomenon.

This approach to resistance necessarily draws on scholarship from disciplines such as interactional linguistics, and communication studies, alongside social psychology. In order to forge a solid basis for a cross-disciplinary conceptualisation of resistance, we need more interdisciplinary events that bring together researchers from different backgrounds working on the topic of ‘resistance’.

Methodology

The project brings together scholars who address current conceptual limitations and seek to establish a more robust empirical basis for generalizing claims about resistance.

These scholars investigate ‘resistance’ as an interactional phenomenon, with each focusing on the practical and collaborative accomplishment of resistance in environments where resistance occurs naturally and is consequential for the accomplishment of core business within those settings.

These studies use audio and video recordings from a wide range of settings, analyzing these materials using the methods and cumulative findings of Discursive Psychology (Edwards and Potter, 1992; Tileagă and Stokoe, 2016) and Conversation Analysis (see Clayman and Gill 2012; Goodwin 2000, 2018; Schegloff 2007).

Dissemination and outreach

The Resistance project has held twice yearly research meetings where participants are invited to share data and discuss the nature of resistance as it occurs in talk-in-interaction.

This culminated in a panel held at the 2019 International Institute of Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis where a number of speakers and an invited discussant considered the interactional nature of resistance.

The current funding provided by the British Psychological Society will fund the continued scholarly meetings, and a forthcoming special issue.