Transformative answers: One way to resist a questions constraints

Tanya Stivers, Makoto Hayashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A number of Conversation Analytic studies have documented that question recipients have a variety of ways to push against the constraints that questions impose on them. This article explores the concept of transformative answers answers through which question recipients retroactively adjust the question posed to them. Two main sorts of adjustments are discussed: question term transformations and question agenda transformations. It is shown that the operations through which interactants implement term transformations are different from the operations through which they implement agenda transformations. Moreover, term-transforming answers resist only the questions design, while agenda-transforming answers effectively resist both design and agenda, thus implying that agenda-transforming answers resist more strongly than design-transforming answers. The implications of these different sorts of transformations for alignment and affiliation are then explored.*

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalLanguage in Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Affiliation
  • Alignment
  • Conversation Analysis
  • Evasion
  • Japanese
  • Social interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language


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