Article Information

GENDER AND DISPLAY: COMMUNICATIVE GENRES AND WAYS OF CATEGORIZATION IN INTERACTION WITH VOICE ASSISTANTS

Ekaterina Khonineva (ekhonineva@eu.spb.ru)

European University at Saint Petersburg, St. Petersburg, Russia

Citation: Khonineva E.A. (2017) Gender i displey: kommunikativnyye zhanry i sposoby kategorizatsii vo vzaimodeystvii s golosovymi assistentami [Gender and Display: Communicative Genres and Ways of Categorization in Interaction with Voice Assistants]. Zhurnal sotsiologii i sotsialnoy antropologii [The Journal of Sociology and Social Anthropology], 20(5): 95–112 (in Russian). https://doi.org/10.31119/jssa.2017.20.5.6

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Abstract. This article focuses on the ways in which orientation towards the category of gender is displayed by interactions with the voice assistant Siri, supported on the products of Apple, Inc. Using analytical instruments of conversation analysis, the author explores the practices through which a person makes the program as feminine and heterosexual. Gender categorization, that is of paramount importance for successful communication, is not limited to particular words, indexing male or female gender of the artifi cial interlocutor. The two basic genres of interaction with voice assistants — functional interaction and small talk — are contrasted with each other not only by the communicative aims of the users, but by the ways the users make the gender of technology relevant in the dialogue. In the case of functional interaction, particularly when the voice assistant accomplishes its functions in insufficient way, the gender category proves to be naturally related to the software and becomes an explanatory model for obscure errors in the program’s work. Th e genre of small talk is characterized by use of various forms of flirtation, sexual harassment, specific ‘female’ topics selection, in other words, by female gender stereotype performing. These practices turn out to be widespread and solicited by the audience in consequence of distinction between the inhuman nature of addressee and that personality with female gender that voice assistant imitates. As far as the gender is the only personal characteristic of the program a user knows about, for keeping longstanding dialogue he or she uses a set of gender-oriented practices and thus forms a stereotypical image of a woman per se.

Keywords: gender categorization, conversation analysis, intelligent technologies

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