Narrative practices in debt collection encounters


Drawing on a corpus of 100 authentic telephone-mediated interactions from a British credit union, this paper is the first to examine narrative practices in debt collection encounters. It demonstrates that the credit union’s debt collector routinely invites and supports indebted individuals’ narratives using alignment and affiliation. Through a small stories approach, the paper therefore highlights that an organisation’s core values and principles can be seen “in action” in the ways that a professional orients to lay-people’s stories in professional-lay discourse. In this case, the collector’s narrative practices are emblematic of the credit union’s consciously ethical, responsible, and debtor-centric approach to collecting debt. The analysis also shows that indebted individuals perform important interactive work through their narrative accounts in terms of mitigating responsibility for their debt, constructing blameless and acceptable identities, and implicitly encouraging (or explicitly instructing) the collector to affiliate with their stance.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: ?? 53981500Jl ??
College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Institute for Forensic Linguistics
Additional Information: Available under the CC BY 4.0 license. © John Benjamins Publishing Company Funding: This research was funded by Research England (E3 Fund). The data underpinning this article was collected during an Economic and Social Research Council funded studentship at the University of Nottingham [grant number ES/J500100/1]
Uncontrolled Keywords: Debt collection,narrative research,organisational research,identity construction
Publication ISSN: 1387-6740
Full Text Link:
Related URLs: https://www.jbe ... 75/ni.20042.har (Publisher URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2022-01
Published Online Date: 2020-10-27
Accepted Date: 2020-09-22
Authors: Harrington, Leigh (ORCID Profile 0000-0003-4321-9902)



Version: Accepted Version

Access Restriction: Restricted to Repository staff only


Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution

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