Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies


Dr Jessica Robles

Photo of Dr Jessica Robles

Lecturer in Social Psychology.

I am fascinated by how moral troubles are implicated in ordinary social interactions. My research has explored many topics in which morality surfaces, from little words such as “like,” to political arguments, family interactions, and responses to racism. I conduct qualitative research using discourse analysis and I teach qualitative methods courses in the Social Psychology programme.

My degrees are in Communication and Media Studies (BA, University of San Francisco, USA: 2004), English Language and Linguistics (MA, University of Essex, UK: 2005), and Communication (PhD, University of Colorado at Boulder, USA: 2011). My previous positions have been at the University of New Hampshire (USA: 2011-2013) and the University of Washington (USA: 2013-2015).

My research involves discourse analysis of language and social interaction; I transcribe recorded ordinary interactions in a range of settings, from the interpersonal and relational (among friends, family) to the organizational and institutional (related to health, politics, education, business). Most of my work focuses on mundane conversations in which something moral arises, particularly when something goes awry. I am especially interested in practical problems, challenges, troubles, and dilemmas—those moments when interaction acquires a little “danger” or requires a bit of delicacy. My doctoral dissertation used a series of such situations to theorize that the relationship between communication and morality is centrally concerned with the social organization of difference. My subsequent publications have further sought to understand how morality is entangled everyday distinctions, disalignments, and disagreements. My book Everyday Talk: Building and Reflecting Identities (2nd edition, 2013), written with first author Karen Tracy, works through many of the concepts, theories and perspectives underlying my research, and is frequently used as an undergraduate textbook in courses on discourse, identity, and culture.

I teach qualitative methods courses in Social Psychology, including Practical Social Psychology, Researching Social Life, and Foundations in Qualitative Research Methods. My teaching philosophy is to engage students in a project of inquiry, driven by their own interests, and jointly pursued by student and instructor. My goal is to share the empirical and practical significance of looking at social psychology through the lens of discourse.

  • Robles, J. S. (2018). Building up by tearing down. Journal of Language and Social Psychology. Robles, J. S.,  DiDomenico, S. M. & Raclaw, J. (2018). Doing being an ordinary communication technology and social media user. Language & Communication, 60, 150-167. 
  • Robles, J. S. (2017). Exclusion in gossipy talk: Hijacking the preference structure for ingroup belonging. Critical Approaches to Discourse Analysis across Disciplines, 9, 5-22.
  • Meade, M. & Robles, J. S. (2017). Historical and existential coherence in political commercials. Discourse & Communication, 11, 404-432.
  •  Robles, J. S. & Kurylo, A. K. (2017). “Let’s have the men clean up”: Interpersonally-communicated stereotypes as a resource for resisting gender-role prescribed activities. Discourse Studies, 19, 1-21.
  • Robles, J. S. (2017). Misunderstanding as a resource in interaction. Pragmatics, 27, 57-86.
  • Raclaw, J., Robles, J. S., & DiDomenico, S. (2016). Providing epistemic support for assessments through mobile-supported sharing activities. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 49, 362-379.
  • Ho, E. Y., Cady, K. A., & Robles, J. S. (2016). A case study of the neti pot’s rise, Americanization, and rupture as integrative medicine in U.S. media discourse. Health Communication, 31, 1181-1192
  • Robles, J. S. (2015). Extreme case (re)formulation as a practice for making hearably-racist talk repairable [special issue on –isms in interaction]. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 34, 390-409.
  • Kurylo, A. & Robles, J.S. (2015). How should I respond to them? An emergent categorization of responses to interpersonally communicated stereotypes. Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, 44, 64-91.
  • Robles, J. S. & Ho, E. Y. (2014). Interactional formats and institutional context: A practical and exploitable distinction in interviews. Text & Talk, 34, 443-465.
  • Robles, J. S. (2012). Troubles with assessments in gifting occasions. Discourse Studies, 14, 753-777.  
  • Robles, J. S. (2012). A discourse analysis of social construction in communication scholarship [special issue on social construction]. Electronic Journal of Communication, 22. Retrieved from
  • Robles, J. S. (2011). Doing disagreement in the House of Lords: “Talking around the issue” as a context-appropriate argumentative strategy. Discourse & Communication, 5, 147-168.
  • Ho, E. Y. & Robles, J. (2011). Cultural resources for health participation in a public health setting: Examining acupuncture and massage therapy for HIV-related peripheral neuropathy. Health Communication, 26, 1-12.
  • Tracy, K., Martinez-Guillem, S., Robles, J. S. & Casteline, K.E. (2011). Critical discourse analysis and (U.S.) communication scholarship: Recovering old connections, envisioning new ones. In C. Salmon (Ed.), Communication Yearbook 35 (pp. 240-286). New York: Routledge.
  • Fox, B. & Robles, J. (2010). It’s like mmm: Enactments with it’s like. Discourse Studies, 12, 1-24.
  • Tracy, K. & Robles, J.S. (2010). Challenges of interviewers’ institutional positionings: Taking account of interview content and the interaction. Communication Methods and Measures, 4, 266-289.
  • Tracy, K., & Robles, J. (2009). Questions, questioning, and institutional practices: An introduction. Discourse Studies, 11, 131-152.