Are conversational assessment sequences evaluative?

Here’s a recording and screencast of a recent talk:

Albert, S. & Healey, P. G. T. (2016, December). Are conversational assessment sequences evaluative?. Paper presented at the 10th annual Conversation Analysis Day, Loughborough.

And here’s a version of the data handout with links to all the audio data for review.


Assessment sequences where someone ostensibly expresses likes or dislikes are core CA phenomena, but do they actually constitute evaluative actions? Analyses of the preference organisation of agreements and disagreements with assessments inform CA studies of how participants index respective rights to do evaluations. However, the evaluative action is usually attributed to the use of prospective adjacent pairs of conventional ‘assessing terms’: a somewhat circular definition. This talk focuses on gallery visitors’ copresent assessments and structurally related sequences from a large corpus of everyday talk to show how such assessments are organised as reflexively accountable and only retroactively evaluative actions. Assessments, noticings, and other retro-sequential structures are therefore especially useful for doing (and analysing) ‘defeasible’ actions where participants work to remain equivocal about their current activities, participation roles, and interactional foci. CA studies of action formation and ascription have noted the difficulties of coding such actions into clear ‘types’. This presentation shows how participants themselves produce this obscurity as an interactional resource.


NB: Tino Sehgal requested that I did not reproduce any photos or video stills that I took from the piece. I therefore used an image of the Tate Modern Turbine Hall (in slide 10) by  Groume. (2012, August). “Des gens qui regardent des gens.”; Online, accessed 15th September 2015. Retrieved from (licence: CC-BY)


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