“But whose side are you on?”

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Affiliation is a relevant response to ordinary troubles talk but in complaint calls to an independent dispute resolution service it is a restricted activity. This research asks about the practices conciliator call-takers use to maintain a neutral stance towards callers’ problems. Observable responsive practices that avoid stance alignment include okay and so prefaced turns that receipt and propose closure on the prior sequence and launch an institutionally relevant activity.  It was also found that the required description of the service as independent was occasioned by callers’ pursuit of affiliation. This chapter contributes to an understanding of how, in institutional talk, restricted activities can influence and shape the trajectory of interactions.


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