Laughables as a resource for foregrounding shared knowledge and shared identities in intercultural interactions in Scandinavia

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


This paper employs Membership Categorization Analysis to illustrate how laughables are used as a resource for establishing co-membership and identification with professional and ‘other’ social identities within a range of different work-places in Denmark and Norway. Conversation analytical studies have previously shown how laughables and laughter attend to a range of social functions such as affiliation (Glenn 2010), seeking intimacy and handling ‘troubles talk’ (Jefferson 1984;Jefferson et al. 1987). This paper focuses on the former of these functions and argues that laughables are a resource to propose co-membership (Erickson and Schultz 1982) and that epistemics (Heritage 2012b;Stivers et al 2011) are central to this process. While previous studies have documented the interrelation of professional and other social categories, this chapter shows that laughables are used by participants to foreground (or background) the relevance of shared identities and that this can work to bridge differences in either professional identities or other identities. The chapter furthermore shows how the shared common sense knowledge proposed by the laughable reveals broader structures of meaning and ideologies involved in local negotiations of identities and category memberships
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIdentity Struggles : Evidence from workplaces around the world
EditorsDorien Van de Mieroop, Stephanie Schnurr
Place of PublicationPhiladelphia
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Publication date2017
ISBN (Print) 9789027206602
ISBN (Electronic) 9789027265883
Publication statusPublished - 2017
SeriesDiscourse Approaches to Politics, Society and Culture


  • Intraculturality
  • Common sense laughable
  • Co-membership
  • Laughables
  • Membership Categorization Analysis
  • ideology
  • construction sites
  • internship interviews
  • second-language interactions
  • student counselling
  • affiliation
  • religion


  • 1 Organisation and participation in conference

4th International Conference of Conversation Analysis

Louise Tranekjær (Speaker)

26 Jun 2014

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventOrganisation and participation in conference

Cite this

Tranekjær, L. (2017). Laughables as a resource for foregrounding shared knowledge and shared identities in intercultural interactions in Scandinavia. In D. Van de Mieroop, & S. Schnurr (Eds.), Identity Struggles: Evidence from workplaces around the world (pp. 185-206). John Benjamins Publishing Company. Discourse Approaches to Politics, Society and Culture, No. 69