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Complaints about technology as a resource for identity-work

  • Jessica S. Robles (a1) and Elizabeth S. Parks (a2)


This article examines how people complain about technology. Using discourse analysis, we inspect sixteen hours of video-recorded focus-group interviews and focused one-on-one discussions where technology was topicalized. We investigate these conversations paying attention to (i) features of language and its situated delivery, including emphasis, word choice, metaphor, and categorizations; and (ii) how these accomplish social actions. We show how interactants use narratives of complaint-like activities about hypothetical categories of people and confessions of their own complainable participation to accomplish a ‘bemoaning’ speech act that manages competing affiliations, demands, and disagreements to construct reasonable moral identities in the situated interaction. By engaging in specific micro-level discursive practices in interaction, participants produce and reproduce what new technologies ‘mean’ to them and for contemporary society. This shows how important it is to examine opinions as situated actions rather than as simple facts about what people believe. (Complaints, accounts, stance, technology, discourse analysis, identity)*


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Jessica S. Robles, Loughborough University, Margaret Keay Road, Brockington Building, Loughborough, Leicester LE113 TU,


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We would like to thank conference attendees and reviewers at the International Communication Association, as well as editors and anonymous reviewers at Language in Society, for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript.



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Complaints about technology as a resource for identity-work

  • Jessica S. Robles (a1) and Elizabeth S. Parks (a2)


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