|Title||Symmetry in Interaction in Meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous: The Management of Conflict|
|Tag(s)||EMCA, Alcoholics Anonymous, conflict management, institutional interaction, narrative symmetry, turn taking|
|Journal||Discourse & Society|
This is a study of the interactive order of participants in meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). It explores, through a detailed examination of one instance of conflict, the turn-taking system of AA meetings and the discursive alignment of members to each other. It aims to demonstrate that the non-hierarchical, egalitarian nature of AA is reflected in and constituted through the way symmetrical interaction is managed. It is proposed that this symmetry is institutional and is constitutive of the aims of AA; demonstrating that discursive symmetry is constituted by members’ access to and employment of a similar range of discursive practices which reflects and constitutes non-differentiated roles among members, mitigating against conflict. It is further proposed that the symmetry in AA discursive practices is exceptional in that, unlike the symmetry of mundane conversation between equals, it is institutional and that symmetry is displayed to a higher degree, i.e. that AA discourse is both institutional and highly symmetrical and that this has a particular bearing on conflict management within AA meetings.