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Explain Why Action Is Central In The Analysis Of Interaction?

3444 words - 14 pages

Introduction:
Transcript of interactions can be examined using various methods of analysis including conversation analysis (CA), interactional sociolinguistics, politeness theory, critical discourse analysis and discursive psychology just to name a few. Researchers make decisions on which analytical framework they are to adopt in their study based on the focus of their investigation and the level of detail they hope to extract from the data (Stubbe, Lane, Hilder, Vine, Vine, Marra, Holmes and Weatherall, 2009). For the purpose of this paper, the analytical method that will be considered is CA which is known to be used to decipher ‘the ‘contents’ of… (inter)actions’ (Ten have, 2006, p. 42). In essence, CA is interested in what participants of an interaction are doing as the conversation unfolds. This explains why transcriptions used in CA often contain an immense amount of details including ‘manner or practice of speaking or…bodily behaviour’ (Sidnell, 2009, p. 376) such as tones, pauses, eye-gazes and laughter to provide comprehensive and exact information for the decoding of actions done in the investigated interaction. In addition, CA adopts the ‘emic perspective’ for analysis which means that researchers use the viewpoint of participants in the interaction instead of their own (since they are the outsiders looking into an interaction) and ‘the sequential environment in which social actions was performed’ (Seedhouse, 2005, p. 252) to arrive at conclusions. Therefore, aside from the detailed information that is provided in transcripts, according to Hutchby and Wooffitt (2008), CA aims to ‘discover how participants understand and respond to one another in their turns at talk, with a central focus on how sequences of actions are generated’ (p. 12). It then follows that, since the generations of actions are the epicentre for CA, it is then central to the analysis of this sort. The rest of this essay attempts to use the two approaches to CA, traditional and institutional (Heritage and Clayman, 2010) to demonstrate the legitimacy of this logic.
I believe a clarification needs to be made with regard to the two approaches of CA. According to Heritage and Clayman (2010), both CA approaches have several ideas that are shared which revolve around the idea of ‘sequential organization of interaction’ (p.14). Firstly, the contexts of the interaction are shaped by the turns at talk which means that participants of an interaction often have to take into account what precedes their turn in order to design their contribution to the interaction. Secondly ‘turns at talk are context renewing’ (p. 14) which highlights that action done in an interaction is not chosen at random. The participants are confined to restrictions presented in previous talk and the outcome that they want to achieve in their turn of talk. Thirdly, the centrality of the talk is in the interpretation and display of understanding, or lack thereof, by the current speaker of the previous...

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