Troubles talk, (dis)affililation and the participation order in Taiwanese-Chinese online discussion boards
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Online discussion boards are a common forum in which everyday users share troubles, elicit various forms of empathy and sympathy, and also seek advice from others. One challenge facing participants, as well as analysts, is the interpretation of expressions of discontent or dissatisfaction as either troubles talk, complaining, seeking advice, or some combination of these, given that each of these social actions/activities invokes a distinct preference structure and presumed diferences in what counts as an ailiative or disailiative response. In this paper, drawing on an analysis of threads in a Taiwanese online parenting discussion board, we propose that one way in which participants navigate this complex array of preferences and (dis)ailiative responses is through the instantiation of a locally situated participation order, which is both aforded and constrained by the interactions that are mediated via online discussion boards. We further argue that emotional support can be indicated through both ailiative responses, such as mutual encouraging, mutual bemoaning, and empathic suggesting, as well as through disailiative responses, such as accusing and advising. We conclude that soliciting emotional support constitutes an important relational practice in online parenting discussion boards, whereby a warrant for sharing troubles with acquaintances and even strangers is established for these kinds of interactions.
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