Studying "Normal" Wrongdoing in Interaction: Police Call Centre Work in a Micro-discursive Perspective

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


Although the ubiquity of ‘normal’ wrongdoing in modern workplaces is well-accepted, very few studies have addressed how wrongdoing occurs in interaction. In this paper, we take a micro-discursive perspective to studying wrongdoing practices in ‘naturally occurring talk’. We analyse audio recorded calls to police call centres, which provide an especially relevant setting due to how call-takers must handle high and potentially conflicting demands. Here, our focus is on the various discursive devices that call-takers employ strategically to attempt to establish a certain shared understanding of the situation, i.e. a form of sensegiving. We specifically describe two types of normal wrongdoing practice, justification-based and ambiguity-based, and argue that these practices are employed with a number of different aims including managing callers’ expectations, legitimizing potentially unpopular response decisions and reducing time consumption on each call. More generally, we discuss how close analyses of interaction data may provide relevant theoretical insights in relation to discussions of how and why normal wrongdoing is perpetuated.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2022
Number of pages32
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Event38th EGOS Colloquium 2022: Organizing: The Beauty of Imperfection - Vienna University of Economics and Business, Wien, Austria
Duration: 7 Jul 20229 Jul 2022
Conference number: 38


Conference38th EGOS Colloquium 2022
LocationVienna University of Economics and Business
Internet address

Cite this