Special Issue

Human Studies

, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 183-198

First online:

Generalization: A Practice of Situated Categorization in Talk

  • Eric HauserAffiliated withThe University of Electro-Communications Email author 

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This paper analyzes four instances in talk of generalization about people, that is, of using statements about one or more people as the basis of stating something about a category. Generalization can be seen as a categorization practice which involves a reflexive relationship between the generalized-from person or people and the generalized-to category. One thing that is accomplished through generalization is instruction in how to understand the identity of the generalized-from person or people, so in addition to being understood as a practice of categorization, generalization can also be understood as a practice of identification. Somewhat incidentally, this paper also illustrates the importance of certain methodological issues related to membership categorization analysis and contributes to the growing body of work that connects membership categorization analysis with sequential conversation analysis.


Categorization practices Generalization Identification practices Membership categorization analysis Reflexivity