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Speaker: Dr Daniella Rafaely

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Goodwin and Goodwin’s (1987) pioneering explication of assessments in interaction foreshadowed more recent conversation-analytic work on the topic. In this paper I examine the use of assessments in radio-based interactions about child deaths, focusing on four child deaths that took place in South Africa between 2014 and 2017 that garnered significant media attention. Assessments are routinely found in talk about child death. Since assessments are linguistically designed to require referents, they provide grammatical slots for membership categories (or other reference terms) as well as explicit evaluations of these. My findings suggest that assessments are a precise interactional mechanism for establishing intersubjective moral grounding as a prerequisite for categorizing victims and perpetrators in cases of child deaths. Their presence allows speakers to manage a range of interactional concerns and ongoingly reaffirm their commitment to a shared moral order.



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