How to use CLAN and ELAN together for EM/CA transcription

I’ve been teaching EM/CA at Berklee School of Music which has been a delight, and the students are often transcribing situations that involve music, dance, performance, composition and other settings where it’s equally important to transcribe talk and bodily action. What I’ve tried to show them is how to do transcripts that allow them to shift between turn-by-turn action and simultaneous, multi-activity interactions. Lorenza Mondada’s presentation on the differences between types of transcription software has a great explanation of the two basic transcription paradigms (partition-based, horizontally scrolling editors and turn-by-turn, vertically scrolling editors) and what they are most useful for.

I wanted to teach my students to use both paradigms and to be able to switch between them so I made this little how-to video. To follow along with this tutorial you’ll need two files: a small clip from “Game Night”(many thanks to Prof. Cecelia Ford for letting me use her often-cited CA data for this tutorial), and Game_Night.cha – the accompanying CLAN transcription file. They’re both zipped up together in this downloadable folder. You only get a tiny clip of the whole video file here. The idea of this tutorial is that you can use this as a starting point and then replace the video with your own data.

Here’s the youtube video. It was recorded for my Berklee students, so not all parts of it (especially where I refer to the data you’ll have available to you) are relevant to this blog tutorial.

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PhD viva preparation checklist

My PhD viva in November 2016 involved a challenging, rich and rigorous two hour conversation with Professors Christian Heath and Lorenza Mondada. I wasn’t nervous going in and was lucky enough to really enjoy it, probably because during the 6 months between submission and viva I tried to answer at least one of the generic viva questions on the list I’m posting here every day.

It was comforting to know I’d tried to cover lots of bases, and it gave me a way to get my head out of the intense detail of the thesis and make sure I had stepped back to consider the angles I imagined might come up. The answers I wrote were also really useful later because free-writing narrative responses to generic questions daily (and often quite repetitively) helped me think through how to explain my work to non-specialists (although you couldn’t find two people more expert in my area than my two examiners).

Thanks to Drs. Jo Cordy and Steve Hutchinson (via Jo Cordy) and Trafford & Leshem (2002) who came up with some of these questions – assembled from multiple sources. If you’re here because you have your PhD viva coming up – good luck! I hope you enjoy yours as much as I did mine.

  • Pre-viva preparation checks:
    • Read the relevant literature in your specific niche published since submission.
    • Read any relevant and recent work by each examiner.
    • Think of their specific concerns and intellectual bugbears.
    • Ask yourself: have I referenced anything that I can’t really remember anymore?
      • What do I rely on in terms of those references? Can I defend them? Can I summarize each source and what I take from it?
  • 108 Questions to prepare
    • 10 most common questions 
      • Value-added and originality
        • What are the most original (or value-added) parts of your thesis?
        • Which propositions or findings would you say are distinctively your own?
        • How do you think your work takes forward or develops the literature in this field?
        • What are the ‘bottom line’ conclusions of your research? How innovative or valuable are they? What does your work tell us that we did not know before?
      • Origins and the scope of the research
        • Can you explain how you came to choose this topic for your doctorate What was it that first interested you about it? How did the research focus change over time?
        • Why have you defined the final topic in the way you did? What were some of the difficulties you encountered and how did they influence how the topic was framed? What main problems or issues did you have in deciding what was in-scope and out-of-scope?
      • Methods
        • What are the core methods used in this thesis? Why did you choose this approach? In an ideal world, are there different techniques or other forms of data and evidence that you’d have liked to use?
      • Data or information
        • What are the main sources or kinds of evidence? Are they strong enough in terms of their quantity and quality to sustain the conclusions that you draw? Do the data or information you consider appropriately measure or relate to the theoretical concepts, or underlying social or physical phenomena, that you are interested in?
      • Findings
        • How do your findings fit with or contradict the rest of the literature in this field? How do you explain the differences of findings, or estimation, or interpretation between your work and that of other authors?
      • What next?
        • What are the main implications or lessons of your research for the future development of work in this specific sub-field? Are there any wider implications for other parts of the discipline? Do you have ‘next step’ or follow-on research projects in mind?
      • Most common general questions
        • What is it about
        • What’s the original aspect of the thesis
        • What are the weaknesses?
        • What would you do different next time?
      • General practice questions
        • Briefly, what have you most enjoyed about research so far?
        • Briefly, how did you get interested in your area of study?
        • Briefly, which part of your work are you most pleased with?
        • How did your research question arise?
        • What inspired you to tackle this research problem?
        • Provide us with a brief ‘abstract’ of your thesis in 9 sections:
          1. big picture problem / widely debated (1-2 sentences)
          2. brief sketch of literature (2-3 sentences)
          3. gap in approaches to date (without criticism) (1 sentence)
          4. how my project fills the gap (1-2 sentences)
          5. specific matereials examined in the diss (1-2 sentences)
          6. theoretical orientation employed (one sentence)
          7. summary of chapters (2-3 sentences per chapter)
          8. original conclusion / argument (1-2 sentences)
          9. brief concluding paragraph on significance (2-3 sentences).
        • If you had to summarise the main findings of your work to a non-specialist, what would you say?
        • In one sentence, what is your thesis?
        • Why is the problem you have tackled worth tackling?
        • What is original about your work?
        • What is the key contribution of your thesis to increased knowledge?
        • What have you done that merits a PhD?
        • Aside from your supervisor who are the main academic influences on your work, and how does your work compare to theirs?
        • How would you describe your methodology and why did you decide to use it?
        • What methodologies / approaches did you also consider and why did you reject them?
        • What are the strongest and weakest points of your work?
        • Generally, which sections of the thesis are the most publishable and in which journals do you intend to publish them?
        • What did you find most technically or theoretically difficult about your work?
        • What literature searching strategy did you adopt, and how can you be sure you haven’t missed anything significant?
        • What are the ethical implications of your work?
        • What do you see as being the societal or economic impacts of your work (may be potential impacts only at this stage)?
        • If you could start again, what would you change?
        • How have you developed as a researcher?
        • What training have you done while a researcher and how did it help you?
        • What skills and competencies do you still need to develop in order to be a ‘complete’ researcher?
        • How has your supervisory relationship changed over time and what has this taught you about academia?
        • How would you supervise a PhD student?
        • What is your publishing strategy?
        • Given the rate of development in your research area, for how long will your contribution be relevant?
        • How could your work be improved?
        • From your experience, what have you learned about research?
        • What aspect of the work did you find most frustrating?
        • How did the thesis compare with what you set out to do?
        • Did you achieve your initial goals?
        • Given the recent advances in your subject what would you change in respect of your methodology?
        • What new approaches would help you take this work further?
        • If you had five years full funding money and twenty researchers, what would you do?
        • Where will this research area be in 10 years?
        • Do you see yourself in research in 5-10 years’ time and in what position?
  • Question clusters
    • Opening Questions
      • Why did you choose this topic for your doctoral study?’
    • Conceptualisation
      • What led you to select these models of …..?
      • What are the theoretical components of your framework?
      • How did you decide upon the variables to include in your conceptual framework?
      • How did concepts assist you to visualise and explain what you intended to investigate?
      • How did you use your conceptual framework to design your research and analyse your findings?
      • How did you arrive at your conceptual framework?’
    • Research Design
      • What other forms of research did you consider?
      • How would you explain you research approach?
      • Why did you select this particular design for your research?
      • What is the link between your conceptual framework and your choice of methodology
      • and how would you defend that methodology?
      • Can you explain where the data can be found and why your design is the most appropriate way of accessing that data?
      • How did you arrive at your research design?’
    • Research Methodology
      • Please explain your methodology to us.
      • Why did you present this in the form of a case study?
      • What choices of research approach did you consider as you planned your research?
      • Can you tell us about the ‘quasi-experimental’ research that you used?
      • I did not watch your video until after reading your thesis. I wish that I had viewed it earlier ~ it was very good. Why did you decide to include a video in your thesis? What was its role?
      • How would you justify your choice of methodology?’
    • Research Methods
      • How do your methods relate to your conceptual framework?
      • Why did you choose to use those methods of data collection?
      • What other methods did you consider and why were they rejected?
      • How did you handle the data that came from open-ended questions?
      • Tell us how you managed to achieve a 100% response rate from your respondents ~ who, as adolescents in schools, are not known for complying with such requests!
      • Why did you decide to use XYZ as your main instrument(s)?’
    • Sampling
      • How did you decide upon your research boundaries?
      • What was the Universe from which your sample was selected and how did you define it?
      • What is the relationship between your respondents, the research design and the conceptual framework?
      • Why did you choose these respondents rather than other respondents ~ how do you justify that choice?
      • How did you select your respondents/materials/area?’
    • Conceptual conclusions
      • What are your conceptual conclusions?
      • Were you disappointed with your conclusions?
      • How do your conclusions relate to your conceptual framework?
      • How did you distinguish between your factual and conceptual conclusions?
      • How did you arrive at your conceptual conclusions?’
    • Fundamentals
      • How did you triangulate your data?
      • Were you objective or subjective in your role as a researcher?
      • How did you relate the various stages of your research one to another?
      • How did you analyse your data, and how did you arrive at meanings from that analysis?
      • How generalisable are your findings~ and why?’
    • Contribution
      • How important are your findings ~ and to whom?
      • How do your major conclusions link to the work of Dr. X?
      • The absence of evidence is not support for what you were investigating, neither is it
      • confirmation of the opposite view. So how do you explain your research outcomes?
    • What is your contribution to knowledge?’
      • How else might you have undertaken your research?
      • What are the strengths and weaknesses of your research?
      • What would you do differently if you repeated your research?
      • We would like you to critique your thesis for us.’
    • Returning to the Beginning
      • So why did you really want to undertake doctoral study?
      • How is gaining your doctorate going to help your career?
      • What are you going to publish from your thesis?
      • What are you going to do after you gain your doctorate?’
      • Is there anything else that you would like to tell us about your thesis which you have not had the opportunity to tell us during the viva?’

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Presidential addressing

See the offprint: Albert, S., & Raymond, C. W. (2019). Conversation analysis at the ‘middle region’ of public life: Greetings and the interactional construction of Donald Trump’s political persona. Language & Communication, 69, 67–83.

We’re contributing this talk to Josh Raclaw‘s panel at the AAA 2017 Toward a transdisciplinary coalition in sociocultural linguistics: A collaborative analysis of presidential discourse in Trump’s Black History Month Listening Session. The panel invites scholars from a variety of methodological orientations to address the same bit of data. Our EM/CA-oriented contribution to the panel focuses on the greeting sequences in the first few moments of the meeting.

Chase Wesley Raymond & Saul Albert

This paper is designed as a contribution to an inter- and trans-disciplinary panel investigating President Donald Trump’s Black History Month Listening Session. Here we adopt the theory and method of conversation analysis (CA) to examine the first minute of this multiparty interaction—from Trump’s entrance into the room, to the launch of his prepared remarks. Greetings and other phenomena that occur during interactional openings have been widely studied from a conversation-analytic perspective (see, e.g., Schegloff, 1968), and yet here we see them occurring in a very particular institutionalized setting, with very particular participants, and in the presence of an overhearing audience (i.e., at-home viewers). In this paper, our aim is to unpack Trump’s initial interactions with those present in the room: whom does he greet, and in what ways, and how is he greeted in return? Moreover, we ask how these greeting practices contribute to the business of “‘doing being’ president” (cf. Sacks, 1984), and thus we will discuss the various membership categories (Sacks, 1992) that are made relevant in and through these brief introductory exchanges. Our analysis therefore offers insights not only into this specific individual’s interactional style and this particular setting, but also into how greetings operate more broadly in multiparty discourse of this sort. 


Albert, E. (1964). “Rhetoric,” “logic,” and “poetics” in Burundi: culture patterning of speech behavior. American Anthropologist, 66, pt 2(6), 35-54.

Billig, Michael. (1999a). Conversation Analysis and the claims of naivety. Discourse & Society, 10(4), 572-576.

Billig, Michael. (1999b). Whose terms? Whose ordinariness? Rhetoric and ideology in Conversation Analysis. Discourse & Society, 10(4), 543-582.

Bolinger, Dwight. (1961). Contrastive Accent and Contrastive stress. Language, 37, 83-96.

Clayman, Steven E., & Heritage, John. (2002). The News Interview: Journalists and Public Figures on the Air. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Clift, Rebecca, & Raymond, Chase Wesley. (2018). Actions in practice: On details in collections. Discourse Studies.

Couper-Kuhlen, Elizabeth. (1984). A new look at contrastive intonation. In R. J.  Watts & Urs Weidmann (Eds.), Modes of Interpretation: Essays presented to Ernst Leisi on the occasion of his 65th birthday (pp. 137-158). Tübingen: Gunter Narr.

Couper-Kuhlen, Elizabeth, & Thompson, Sandra A. (2005). A linguistic practice for retracting overstatements: ‘Concessive repair’. In Auli Hakulinen & Margret Selting (Eds.), Syntax and Lexis in Conversation: Studies on the use of linguistic resources in talk-in-interaction (pp. 257-288). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Drew, Paul, & Heritage, John. (1992). Analyzing Talk at Work: An Introduction. In Paul Drew & John Heritage (Eds.), Talk at Work (pp. 3-65). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Heritage, John. (1984). Garfinkel and Ethnomethodology. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

Heritage, John, & Clayman, Steven E. (2010). Talk in Action: Interactions, Identities and Institutions. Oxford: Blackwell-Wiley.

Hough, Emerson. (1917). The man next door. New York: D. Appleton and Company.

Hansen, A. D. (2005). A practical task: Ethnicity as a resource in social interaction. Research on Language and Social Interaction38(1), 63-104.

Jefferson, Gail. (1978). What’s In a ‘Nyem’? Sociology, 12, 1, 135-139.

Jefferson, Gail. (1981). The Abominable ‘Ne?’: A Working Paper Exploring the Phenomenon of Post-Response Pursuit of Response. Occasional Paper No.6, Department of Sociology,: University of Manchester, Manchester, England.

Jefferson, G. (1989). Letter to the editor re: Anita Pomerantz’ epilogue to the special issue on sequential organization of conversational activities. Western Journal of Speech Communication, 53, 427-429.

Kendon, Adam. (1990). Spatial Organization in Social Encounters: The F-Formation System. In Adam Kendon (Ed.), Conducting Interaction: Patterns of Behavior in Focused Encounters (pp. 209-238). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Pomerantz, Anita M. (1984a). Agreeing and Disagreeing with Assessments: Some Features of Preferred/Dispreferred Turn Shapes. In J. Maxwell Atkinson & John Heritage (Eds.), Structures of Social Action: Studies in Conversation Analysis (pp. 57-101). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Pomerantz, Anita M. (1984b). Pursuing a Response. In J. Maxwell Atkinson & John Heritage (Eds.), Structures of Social Action (pp. 152-164). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Raymond, Chase Wesley. (2017). Indexing a contrast: The ‘do’-construction in English conversation. Journal of Pragmatics, 118, 22-37.

Raymond, Chase Wesley. (Frth). Category accounts: Normativity in sequences of action. Language in Society.

Raymond, Chase Wesley, & Stivers, Tanya. (2016). The omnirelevance of accountability: Off-record account solicitations. In Jeffrey D. Robinson (Ed.), Accountability in Social Interaction (pp. 321-353). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Raymond, Geoffrey. (2018). Which epistemics? Whose conversation analysis? Discourse Studies.

Rossano, Federico. (2009). Gase as a method of pursuing responses. Paper presented at the Annual Meets of the American Sociological Association, San Franciso.

Rossano, Federico. (2013). Gaze in Social Interaction. In Jack Sidnell & Tanya Stivers (Eds.), The Handbook of Conversation Analysis (pp. 308-329). Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Sacks, Harvey. (1984). Notes on Methodology. In J. M. Atkinson & J. Heritage (Eds.), Structures of Social Action (pp. 21-27). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Edited by Gail Jefferson from various lectures).

Sacks, Harvey. (1987 [1973]). On the Preferences for Agreement and Contiguity in Sequences in Conversation. In Graham Button & John R. E. Lee (Eds.), Talk and Social Organisation (pp. 54-69). Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters.

Sacks, Harvey. (1992). Lectures on Conversation (2 vols.). Oxford: Blackwell.

Sacks, Harvey, Schegloff, Emanuel A., & Jefferson, Gail. (1974). A Simplest Systematics for the Organization of Turn-Taking for Conversation. Language, 50, 696-735.

Schegloff, Emanuel A. (1968). Sequencing in Conversational Openings. American Anthropologist, 70, 1075-1095.

Schegloff, Emanuel A. (1987a). Analyzing Single Episodes of Interaction: An Exercise in Conversation Analysis. Social Psychology Quarterly, 50(2), 101-114.

Schegloff, Emanuel A. (1987b). Between Macro and Micro: Contexts and Other Connections. In Jeffrey C. Alexander, Bernhard Giesen, Richard Münch, & Neil J. Smelser (Eds.), The Micro-Macro Link (pp. 207-234). Berkeley: University of California Press.

Schegloff, Emanuel A. (1997a). Practices and Actions: Boundary Cases of Other-Initiated Repair. Discourse Processes, 23(3), 499-545.

Schegloff, Emanuel A. (1997b). Whose Text? Whose Context. Discourse & Society, 8(2), 165-187.

Schegloff, Emanuel A. (1998). Reply to Wetherell. Discourse and Society, 9(3), 457-460.

Schegloff, Emanuel A. (1999a). Discourse, Pragmatics, Conversation, Analysis. Discourse Studies, 1(4), 405-435.

Schegloff, Emanuel A. (1999b). ‘Schegloff’s Texts’ as ‘Billig’s Data’: A Critical Reply to Billig. Discourse and Society, 10(4), 558-572.

Schegloff, Emanuel A. (2007). Sequence organization in Interaction: A Primer in Conversation Analysis Volume 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Schegloff, Emanuel A., & Sacks, Harvey. (1973). Opening Up Closings. Semiotica, 8(4), 289-327.

Stivers, Tanya. (2005). Modified Repeats: One Method for Asserting Primary Rights from Second Position. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 38(2), 131-158.

Stivers, Tanya, & Rossano, Federico. (2010). Mobilizing Response. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 43, 3-31.

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Assessments in the production of routine (rhythmical) closings

Here these are the references for my talk on terminal assessments and performance evaluations in a partner dance workshop at LANSI 2017

I’ve given up trying to fit them all onto one slide at the end – so here they are on this web page. A recording of the talk is to follow – here’s one of the slides for now:

A slide from the talk showing some of the normative dimensions of accountability that emerge through students' terminal performance evaluations and how they're involved in teachers' routine, terminal assessments.
A slide showing some of the normative dimensions of accountability that emerge through students’ terminal performance evaluations and how they’re involved in teachers’ routine, terminal assessments.


  • Albert, S. (2015). Rhythmical coordination of performers and audience in partner dance. Delineating improvised and choreographed interaction. Etnografia E Ricerca Qualitativa, 3, 399–428.
  • Antaki, C. (2002). “Lovely”: Turn-initial high-grade assessments in telephone closings. Discourse Studies, 4(1), 5–23.
  • Antaki, C. (2000). “Brilliant. Next Question…”: High-Grade Assessment Sequences in the Completion of Interactional Units. Research on Language & Social Interaction, 33(3), 37–41.
  • Broth, M., & Mondada, L. (2013). Walking away: The embodied achievement of activity closings in mobile interaction. Journal of Pragmatics, 47(1), 41–58.
  • Broth, M., & Keevallik, L. (2014). Getting Ready to Move as a Couple: Accomplishing Mobile Formations in a Dance Class. Space and Culture, 17(2), 107–121.
  • De Stefani, E., & Mondada, L. (2013). Reorganizing Mobile Formations: When “Guided” Participants Initiate Reorientations in Guided Tours. Space and Culture, 17(2), 157–175.
  • De Stefani, E., & Gazin, A.-D. (2014). Instructional sequences in driving lessons: Mobile participants and the temporal and sequential organization of actions. Journal of Pragmatics, 65, 63–79.
  • Garfinkel, H. (1967). Studies in ethnomethodology. America. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Halll.
  • Goodwin, C., & Goodwin, M. H. (1992). Assessments and the construction of context. In C. Goodwin & A. Duranti, C. Goodwin & A. Duranti (Eds.), Rethinking context: Language as an Interactive Phenomenon (Vol. 11, pp. 147–189). Cambridge: Cambridge University Pressess.
  • Harness Goodwin, M., & Goodwin, C. (1986). Gesture and coparticipation in the activity of searching for a word. Semiotica, 62(1–2), 51–75.
  • Keevallik, L. (2010). Bodily Quoting in Dance Correction. Research on Language & Social Interaction, 43(4), 401–426.
  • Keevallik, L. (2013). Here in time and space: Decomposing movement in dance instruction. In P. Haddington, L. Mondada, & M. Nevile, P. Haddington, L. Mondada, & M. Nevile (Eds.), Interaction and Mobility: Language and the Body in Motion (pp. 345–370). Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter.
  • Oshima, S., & Streeck, J. (2015). Coordinating talk and practical action: The case of hair salon service assessments. Pragmatics and Society, 6(4), 538–564.
  • Pomerantz, A. (1984). Agreeing and disagreeing with assessments: Some features of preferred/dispreferred turn shapes. In J. M. Atkinson & J. Heritage, J. M. Atkinson & J. Heritage (Eds.), Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis (pp. 57–102). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Schütz, A. (1951). Making music together: A study in social relationship. Social Research, 18(1), 76–97.
  • Stivers, T., & Rossano, F. (2010). Mobilizing Response. Research on Language & Social Interaction, 43(1), 3–31.
  • Thompson, S. A., Fox, B. A., & Couper-Kuhlen, E. (2015). Grammar in Everyday Talk: Building Responsive Actions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,.
  • Wiggins, S., & Potter, J. (2003). Attitudes and evaluative practices: Category vs. item and subjective vs. objective constructions in everyday food assessments. British Journal of Social Psychology, 42(4), 513–531.
  • Weeks, P. (1996). Synchrony lost, synchrony regained: The achievement of musical co-ordination. Human Studies, 19(2), 199–228.
  • Wittgenstein, L. (1967). Lectures and conversations on Aesthetics, Psychology and Religious Belief. (C. Barrett, C. Barrett, Ed.). Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

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Legal HARKing: theoretical grounding in interaction research

Our 2017 CogSci paper argues that conversation analysis (CA), when used at the right point in the experimental research cycle, can provide all the benefits of HARKing with none of the harms.

Since CA studies recordings of past interactions, using conversation analysis (CA) to formulate hypotheses for experimental study can be compared to the questionable research practice of hypothesizing after the results are known (HARK)ing – but not necessarily in a bad way. We explored this productive intersection between CA and experimental psychology to find some cross-disciplinary opportunities. We also made a poster:


Bjelic, D., and Lynch, M. (1992). The Work of a (Scientific) Demonstration: Respecifying Newton’s and Goethe’s Theories of Prismatic Color. In Watson, G. and Seiler, R.Text in Context: Contributions to Ethnomethodology, 52–78. Sage Publications Newbury Park, CA.

De Ruiter, J. P. (2013). Methodological paradigms in interaction research. In Alignment in Communication: Towards a New Theory of Communication, in Wachsmuth, I, De Ruiter, J. P. Jaecks, P, and Kopp, S (Eds.), John Benjamins Publishing Company.

De Ruiter, J. P., and Albert, S. (2017). An Appeal for a Methodological Fusion of Conversation Analysis and Experimental Psychology. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 50(1), 90-107.

Garfinkel, Harold. 1967. Studies in ethnomethodology. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Halll.

Glaser, G., and Strauss, A. (1967). The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research. New York, NY: Aldine de Gruyter.

Hepburn, A, and Bolden, B. (2012). The Conversation Analytic Approach to Transcription. In Sidnell, J and Stivers, T (Eds.) The Handbook of Conversation Analysis,, 57–76. Oxford: John Wiley & Sons.

Harris, J., Theobald, M., Danby, S., Reynolds, E., and Rintel, S. (2012). What’s going on here? The pedagogy of a data analysis session. In Lee, A., and Danby, S. (Eds.) Reshaping Doctoral Education: International Approaches and Pedagogies, 83–96. London: Routledge.

Potter, J. (2002). Two Kinds of Natural. Discourse Studies 4(4), 539–42.

Sacks, H., Schegloff, E., and Jefferson, G. (1974). A simplest systematics for the organization of turn-taking for conversation. Language 50(4), 696–735.

Sormani, P. (2014). Respecifying lab ethnography: an ethnomethodological study of experimental physics. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.

Stivers, T. (2015). Coding Social Interaction: A Heretical Approach in Conversation Analysis? Research on Language and Social Interaction 48 (1). 1–19.

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Noticings and the reflexive constitution of action and a mutually intelligible world

Mick Smith and I wrote this paper for for IIEMCA. I’ll upload the full video of the talk once it’s done. Here are the references for now as they won’t fit on a slide.

We focus on some practices people use to formulate a setting as available for use in interaction: as resources that recipients may optionally ratify and accomplish as resources in and through social action. Co-participants can formulate objects that they may then re-use, expand and re-transform in subsequent talk. We explore this process by analyzing the work of senior and novice field geologists conducting fieldwork while walking through a wilderness  setting. We show how participants use noticings as methods to develop and share candidate understandings of the world around them: as analyzable, knowable, and actionable phenomena. We trace the procedures through which participants produce copresent occasioned noticings that combine their engagement with each other and with their co-present setting into mutually accountable joint activities. We argue that for a noticeable to become useful as an actionable resource, co-participants must first analyze its relevance to whatever activity is currently underway. This members’ analysis provides a key resource for participants and analysts alike by revealing how ‘what-we’re-doing now’ is embedded within larger activities and projects, allowing what might otherwise remain incohate and unnoticed to become an inferentially rich resource for participants in the conduct of situated activities.

  • Couper-Kuhlen, Elizabeth. 2010. “Commentary on Stivers and Rossano: Mobilizing Response.” Research on Language & Social Interaction 43 (1). Informa UK Limited: 32–37. doi:10.1080/08351810903471316.
  • Goffman, Erving. 1978. “Response Cries.” Language 54 (4): 787–815.
  • Goodwin, Charles, and Marjorie Harness Goodwin. 2012. “Car Talk: Integrating Texts, Bodies, and Changing Landscapes.” Semiotica 191 (1/4): 257–86. doi:10.1515/sem-2012-0063.
  • Halkowski, T. 2006. “Realizing the Illness: Patients’ Narratives of Symptom Discovery.” In Communication in Medical Care Interaction between Primary Care Physicians and Patients, edited by John Heritage and Douglas W. Maynard. Vol. 20. Studies in Interactional Sociolinguistics. Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511607172.006.
  • Hoey, Elliott M. 2015. “Lapses: How People Arrive at and Deal With, Discontinuities in Talk.” Research on Language and Social Interaction 48 (4). Informa UK Limited: 430–53. doi:10.1080/08351813.2015.1090116.
  • Keisanen, Tiina. 2012. “Uh-Oh, We Were Going There: Environmentally Occasioned Noticings of Trouble in in-Car Interaction.” Semiotica 191 (1/4): 197–222. doi:10.1515/sem-2012-0061.
  • Kääntä, L., 2014. “From noticing to initiating correction: Students’ epistemic displays in instructional interaction.” Journal of Pragmatics, 66: 86-105 doi:10.1016/j.pragma.2014.02.010
  • Koschmann, Timothy, and Alan Zemel. 2009. “Optical Pulsars and Black Arrows: Discoveries as Occasioned Productions.” Journal of the Learning Sciences 18 (2). Informa UK Limited: 200–246. doi:10.1080/10508400902797966.
  • Schegloff, Emanuel A. 2007. Sequence Organization in Interaction: Volume 1: A Primer in Conversation Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Schegloff, Emanuel A. 2010. “Commentary on Stivers and Rossano: Mobilizing Response.” Research on Language and Social Interaction 43 (1): 38–48. doi:10.1080/08351810903471282.
  • Sidnell, Jack. 2012. “Declaratives Questioning, Defeasibility.” Research on Language & Social Interaction 45 (1). Informa UK Limited: 53–60. doi:10.1080/08351813.2012.646686.
  • Stivers, Tanya, and Federico Rossano. 2010. “Mobilizing Response.” Research on Language & Social Interaction 43 (1): 3–31. doi:10.1080/08351810903471258.
  • Stivers, Tanya. 2015. “Coding Social Interaction: A Heretical Approach in Conversation Analysis?.” Research on Language and Social Interaction 48 (1). Informa UK Limited: 1–19. doi:10.1080/08351813.2015.993837.
  • Sacks, Harvey. 1995. Lectures on Conversation. Edited by Gail Jefferson. Vol. I. London: Wiley-Blackwell.

Noticings and the reflexive constitution of action and a mutually intelligible world Read More »

Beginning to dance: methods of mutual coordination between novice dancers

Expert dancers can move together in seamless flows of joint action. They initiate and complete sequences of movement, and anticipate and counterbalance the momentum of one another’s bodies in ways that can appear both effortlessly coordinated and spontaneously responsive to changes in the music and their local environment.

(This paper was written for the 7th Joint Action Meeting in London with Dirk vom Lehn as part of the dance as interaction project.)


While this close coordination is a compelling spectacle, it is designed to be difficult to analyze: audiences are not meant to see how it is done, so analysts of joint action have tended to focus on rehearsals or classes that involve teaching and learning to dance together. However, most studies have focused on advanced students (Keevalik & Broth, 2014) or professional dance rehearsals (Muntanyola-Saura, 2015) and the teaching and learning practices they develop for achieving complex choreographies. This talk explores the coordination of the first few moments of initial steps learned by novices at the start of an introductory partner dance workshop. Using qualitative video analysis and by studying the procedural structure of interaction during the workshop, we show how novice dancers’ joint actions are coordinated using mundane conversational practices and rhythmical entrainments, suggesting a similarly interactional basis for expert dance coordination.


  • Broth, M. & Keevallik, L., (2014), Getting Ready to Move as a Couple: Accomplishing Mobile Formations in a Dance Class Space and Culture, 2014, 17, 107-121
  • Muntanyola-Saura, D., (2015), Partnering in dance rehearsals. The place of listening and rhythm Etnografia e ricerca qualitativa, Società editrice il Mulino, 8, 429-45

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Conversation analysis – a brief introduction for CS/psychology geeks

In 2015 I wrote a quick introduction to CA for people who study the psychology of interaction and discourse (still in press). I’ve used that as the basis of this longish post for people who need some starting points in #EM/CA. Also check the EMCA wiki for new references (there are more all the time – it’s a flourishing field).

Conversation Analysis (CA) is an interdisciplinary, inductive approach to studying talk and interaction ‘in the wild’ and in situations where the formal parameters, theories and models for interaction are unknown, premature, or where theories are currently undergoing revision. 

Conversation Analysis (CA) is a method of gathering data involving naturalistic conversational interaction, analysing it systematically, and reporting on features of its structural organisation. CA is distinctive because it is not only a method for analysis, it also constitutes an active sub-discipline within many research areas that involve the empirical study of human interaction. CA has its own standards of evidence, some unusual collaborative research practices, and a rich literature spanning sociology, linguistics, anthropology, psychology, and communications. The outline of CA provided here should be used as a guide to contextualise the kinds of claims, arguments, and evidence readers may encounter in the CA literature. Because CA has not developed from a ‘home discipline’ as such, it is widely dispersed and consequently likely that any researcher interested in spoken discourse will find a wealth of CA research within their area of specialism. The intention here is to encourage researchers to draw on core CA findings in their work, to find the CA research and researchers in their own field, and to learn to work with interaction data using these methods

So what is CA useful for? What kinds of questions can one ask with it? And what kinds of answers can be gleaned at different points in the research cycle? CA is especially useful for empirical research on interaction in naturalistic settings where established theories may be lacking or under revision. This is because CA looks for detailed qualitative evidence of how participants work to organise their interactions sequentially in each specific situation. CA relies on a recorded event, utterance or gesture as analytic evidence only when the participants demonstrably use that event to organise their subsequent actions. On the one hand, this forces analysts to limit the generality of the questions they can ask and the claims they can make. For example, studies of interaction in doctor’s offices, courtrooms, or at dinner parties tend to ask questions about how a specific action or utterance is produced in a particular social situation by specific participants. On the other hand, CA’s evidential constraints have led to a methodologically coherent field. By focusing analysis on the methods and events demonstrably used by participants to make sense of their own interactions, CA studies tend to be readily comparable with one another. Although individual studies are situationally specific, analysts can develop and test general findings cumulatively working in diverse settings and fields. Over the last 40 years the most robust and broadly tested finding on which much latter CA research has been based is the turn-taking system described by Sacks, Schegloff, and Jefferson (1974). Without the extended discussion these warrant, the rules of the turn-taking system can be summarised briefly to explain what kind of answers CA can offer.

  1. For any turn at talk, at the first possible completion,
    1. current speaker may select next,
    2. next speaker may self-select,
    3. current speaker may continue.
  2. If 1c occurs, the rules are re-applied at the next possible completion.

This describes the normative patterns observed in natural conversational turn-taking across contexts in the first decade of CA research. As a finding it provides a framework for further exploratory work in CA, and a strong empirical basis for theory formation for experimentation. As a research outcome, this exemplifies how CA can produce detailed, systematic descriptions from cumulative observations.

Alongside these longer-term results, the CA research cycle involves structured observation throughout the process of data gathering, presentation, and collaborative analysis of data within the scope of a single study. Current best practice for CA data gathering involves video of an interactional situation from multiple angles where all participants’ gaze direction, gestures, body orientation, and talk are – ideally – available for analysis. Within relevant practical, social, and ethical constraints, it is useful to record whatever participants evidently pay attention to within the setting including objects, tools, documents, computer, phone, and screen captures. Interaction mediated via text, audio, and video also constitutes viable data, however for a sequential analysis, participants and CA researchers should be able to access the same evidential and temporal contingencies and constraints. For example, phone calls provide ideal data for CA studies because participants and researchers alike can analyse the same audio events in the same order. Because a CA study may focus on very intricate details, a few seconds of a recording can yield data for a ‘single case analysis’, contributing to or questioning cumulative findings. Researchers also re-analyse data from previous studies, use examples from audiovisual corpora and data fragments from the CA literature, often as a foil for discussion.

Transcription is central to CA research as it involves repeatedly reviewing the data to build up an initial description that can be checked by others from an early stage. Variations on Gail Jefferson’s transcription conventions1 provide a level of detail that can be adjusted for the specific phenomena in question. Verbal interaction is typed out turn-by-turn, then symbols are added and arranged spatially to indicate temporal and production features of talk. For example, extract 1 depicts Paul and Anne’s talk as their teacher sings a count of eight during a partner dance class. Links to online data are also provided where possible.

Extract 1 CADANCE: eg1

 1  Paul:  N↑o⌈t b̲a̲::d, >°°not ba:d.°°<⌉

 2  Anne:     ⌊ It's like be⌈ing GENuin⌋ely >able °to do it?°<⌉

 3  Tchr:                   ⌊        F    I    v    e         ⌋, (.)

 4         s⌈ix? ( . ) ⌉ ↓five

 5  Paul:   ⌊Ye̲::⌈p.   ⌋

 6  Anne:        ⌊∙hh ⌈aHhh ∙Hhh

 7  Tchr:             ⌊six se::ven eight?


Reading while listening to the audio should show how Jefferson’s conventions are roughly intuitive : left and right braces show points of overlap, carats show talk speeding up, while colons indicate sound stretches. Because these conventions compromise between precision, detail, and readability there are also some inevitable ambiguities, for example punctuation indicates intonation rather than grammar, and turn-initial capitals mark transcriber hearings of turn-beginnings, but elsewhere they indicate loud talk. The purpose, however, is not analysis of the transcript. Rather transcripts provide a useful sketch to aid in more formal description, and a convenient way for analysts to refer to specific moments of the original video in a data session presentation.

In a data session, a researcher presents new data and transcripts for repeated viewings and extended analytical discussion amongst a small group of colleagues. Since CA relies on the linguistic and interactional aptitude of the analyst as an heuristic instrument, regular data sessions provide an essential opportunity to revise transcripts and candidate analyses amongst peers. Details of the present data are discussed in relation to cumulative findings, and the implications of or alternatives to each analysis are proposed and challenged. Ideally, data sessions are both pedagogical and deliberative, where experienced and student analysts refine their observations and descriptions by picking out specific fragments of data, and contextualise findings within the literature. Over time, researchers build ‘collections’ of data fragments such as extract 1: part of a collection of ‘countings’, where people count up or down to coordinate joint actions. A rough collection is a starting point for identifying a distinct social practice as a specifiable analytic phenomenon. Analysis then refines a collection in terms of how participants orient to the sequential organisation of an action, and to its lexical, grammatical, and/or embodied structural features of composition and design (Schegloff 1993, 121). For example, before the video clip of extract 1 starts, Paul and Anne have been evaluating their previous attempt at a dance move. The teacher’s count starts with a loud, stretched “”, a short pause then a rising “”, before both pitch and count re-sets to five and moves back up to a final, rising “”. At the onset of the count, Paul’s turns his head to the teachers and back to Anne, hushing his second “”. Anne also speeds up and softens her talk, turning her head towards the teachers then back to Paul as the count reaches its first “”. Paul’s minimal “” receipts Anne’s assessment just as he briefly turns his head away from her again. Her laugh closes the sequence, and they re-establish mutual gaze as the count enters its final phase.

Forgoing more detailed description on the one hand, and the broader sequential context on the other, this fragment provides a simple example of how such data can be presented. The embodied turn (Nevile 2015) in the CA literature has led researchers to add more detail to transcripts of talk, using illustrations (Laurier 2014) to describe gesture and gaze direction as well as diagrammatic representations of, for example pitch tracks and phonological details. Figure illustrates the temporal structure of talk and patterns of other-directed mutual gaze just before Paul and Anne start dancing.

Figure 1: Paul and Anne's pattern of gaze orientation in extract 1
Figure 1: Paul and Anne’s pattern of gaze orientation in extract 1

In terms of cumulative CA findings, these details could be analysed alongside generalised CA work on how assessments implicate sequence closure in everyday conversation, and how patterns of mutual gaze work towards topic, focus, and activity shifts (Heath 1986, 128–48; Mondada 2006; Rossano 2012, 227–308). In a more applied project, the way the dancers’ turns at talk and gaze shifts match the phase structure of the teacher’s count could be analysed in relation to ongoing research into how bodily-vocal group activities are organised in dance instruction (Keevallik 2014). This fragment may be added to multiple collections including ’embodied closings’ or ‘countings’ as well as specialised sub-collections such as ‘dance closings’ and ‘count-ins’. CA findings are thus developed incrementally by documenting the detail of people’s interactional practices in specific settings while contributing to a general understanding of ‘everyday talk-in-interaction’. This super-set of copresent interactional practices provides a normative basis for researchers studying specialised settings where institutional or practical constraints may constrain interactional practices (Drew and Heritage 1992) Identifying and fully describing a new phenomenon in these terms may therefore require collection of hundreds of cases, but a single case analysis can still test, discuss, or suggest a finding by demonstrating its use in a specific context.

CA can also be used in mixed-methods research, especially in theory formation, experimental design, and evaluation processes. CA researchers may discover a systematic variation in participants’ situated action, sometimes as simple as an issue of lexical choice. For example, Heritage et al. (2007) observed that doctors vary the ways they ask about patients’ unmet concerns during consultations. Their experiment asked doctors to request whether their patients had “anything else” or “something else” to talk about, and discovered that 78% fewer unmet concerns were reported in the latter condition. In this way CA’s focus on interactional practices in natural settings provides systematic observations that can help design ecologically sound experimental variables and guide the formulation of falsifiable theories (Robinson and Heritage 2014). In conjunction with more conventional social science methods, CA is useful in similar ways when it foregrounds the participants’ interactional uses of the research setting. For example, CA studies of interviewing practices (Potter and Hepburn 2012) contribute to methodological developments that are starting to incorporate the pragmatics of talk and the practicalities of survey technologies into a broader analysis (Conrad, Schober, and Schwarz 2013). Similarly, studies of methods that use introspective self-report (Wooffitt and Holt 2011) or CA’s own practices of video recording (Hazel 2015) are opening up new opportunities to approach theoretical questions across fields as practical, observable issues based on the endogenous organisation of situated activities. CA’s early focus on everyday talk has both influenced and drawn on the interactional respecification of core questions in linguistics and pragmatics (Ochs, Schegloff, and Thompson 1996; Levinson 1983), and psychology (Edwards and Potter 2001; Tileagă and Stokoe 2015), along with a broader shift in the social sciences towards posing empirical questions in terms of practical action (Button 1991; Lynch 1997). To use CA within a broader scientific context, however, it is necessary to clarify how its findings are descriptive of normative structures in talk rather than predictive or prescriptive, and may be combined with other methods in order to develop and test formal hypotheses (Lynch 2000, 522).

This limited introduction is intended to provide only the most basic starting points for researchers wishing to explore CA and get a foothold in its literature. There are now many excellent primers available (Schegloff 2007a; Ten Have, 2007; Hutchby & Wooffitt, 2008Heath, Hindmarsh, and Luff 2010Sidnell 2011Clift, 2016) as well as a more comprehensive handbook (Sidnell & Stivers, 2012) for those who would like to explore CA’s contemporary issues and research questions further.


Atkinson, J.M., and John Heritage. 1984. Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis. Edited by J. Maxwell Atkinson and John Heritage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Button, Graham. 1991. “Introduction: Ethnomethodology and the Foundational Respecification of the Human Sciences.” In Ethnomethodology and the Human Sciences, edited by Graham Button, 1–9. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511611827.002.

Clift, Rebecca. 2016. Conversation Analysis: 1st ed. Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Conrad, Frederick G., Michael F. Schober, and Norbert Schwarz. 2013. “Pragmatic Processes in Survey Interviewing.” Oxford Handbooks Online, December. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199838639.013.005.

Drew, Paul, and John Heritage. 1992. Talk at work: Interaction in institutional settings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Edwards, Derek, and Jonathan Potter. 2001. “Discursive Social Psychology.” In The New Handbook of Language and Social Psychology, edited by P Robinson and H Giles, 103–18. London: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Have, P Ten. 2007. Doing conversation analysis: A Practical Guide. 2nd ed. London: Sage Publications.


Hazel, S. 2015. “The Paradox from Within: Research Participants Doing-Being-Observed.” Qualitative Research, September. SAGE Publications. doi:10.1177/1468794115596216.

Heath, Christian. 1986. Body Movement and Speech in Medical Interaction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (CUP). doi:10.1017/cbo9780511628221.

Heath, Christian, Jon Hindmarsh, and Paul Luff. 2010. Video in Qualitative Research Analysing Social Interaction in Everyday Life. Introducing Qualitative Methods. London: Sage Publications.


Heritage, John, Jeffrey D. Robinson, Marc N Elliott, Megan Beckett, and Michael Wilkes. 2007. “Reducing patients’ unmet concerns in primary care: the difference one word can make.” Journal of General Internal Medicine 22 (10): 1429–33. doi:10.1007/s11606-007-0279-0.

Hutchby, Ian, and Robin Wooffitt. 2008. Conversation Analysis. 2nd Edition. Chichester, U.K.: Polity Press.


Keevallik, Leelo. 2014. “Turn Organization and Bodily-Vocal Demonstrations.” Journal of Pragmatics 65. Elsevier: 103–20. doi:10.1016/j.pragma.2014.01.008.

Laurier, Eric. 2014. “The graphic transcript: Poaching comic book grammar for inscribing the visual, spatial and temporal aspects of action.” Geography Compass 8 (4): 235–48. doi:10.1111/gec3.12123.

Levinson, Stephen C. 1983. Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lynch, Michael. 1997. Scientific practice and ordinary action: Ethnomethodology and social studies of science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

———. 2000. “The ethnomethodological foundations of conversation analysis.” Text – Interdisciplinary Journal for the Study of Discourse 20 (4): 517–32. doi:10.1515/text.1.2000.20.4.517.

Mondada, Lorenza. 2006. “Participants’ Online Analysis and Multimodal Practices: Projecting the End of the Turn and the Closing of the Sequence.” Discourse Studies 8 (1). SAGE Publications: 117–29. doi:10.1177/1461445606059561.

Nevile, Maurice. 2015. “The Embodied Turn in Research on Language and Social Interaction.” Research on Language and Social Interaction 48 (2): 121–51. doi:10.1080/08351813.2015.1025499.

Ochs, E, Emanuel A Schegloff, and Sandra A Thompson. 1996. Interaction and grammar. Edited by Elinor Ochs, Emanuel A Schegloff, and Sandra A Thompson. 13. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Potter, Jonathan, and Alexa Hepburn. 2012. “Eight Challenges for Interview Researchers.” In The SAGE Handbook of Interview Research: The Complexity of the Craft, edited by Jaber F. Gubrium, James A. Holstein, Amir B. Marvasti, and Karyn D. McKinney, 1st ed., 555–71. SAGE Publications, Inc. doi:10.4135/9781452218403.

Robinson, Jeffrey D., and John Heritage. 2014. “Intervening With Conversation Analysis: The Case of Medicine.” Research on Language and Social Interaction 47 (3): 201–18.

Rossano, Federico. 2012. “Gaze behavior in face-to-face interaction.” PhD thesis, Radboud Universitet Nijmegen.

Sacks, Harvey, Emanuel A Schegloff, and Gail Jefferson. 1974. “A simplest systematics for the organization of turn-taking for conversation.” Language 50 (4): 696–735. doi:10.2307/412243.

Schegloff, Emanuel A. 1993. “Reflections on Quantification in the Study of Conversation.” Research on Language & Social Interaction 26 (1): 99–128. doi:10.1207/s15327973rlsi2601_5.

Schegloff, Emanuel A. 2007. Sequence organization in interaction: Volume 1: A primer in conversation analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Sidnell, Jack. 2010. Conversation Analysis: An Introduction. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Sidnell, Jack., and Stivers, Tanya. (Eds). 2012. The Handbook of Conversation Analysis. London: Wiley-Blackwell.

Tileagă, Cristian, and Elizabeth Stokoe. 2015. Discursive Psychology: Classic and Contemporary Issues. London: Routledge.

Wooffitt, Robin, and Nicola Holt. 2011. Looking In and Speaking Out. Exeter: Imprint Academic.


1See the basic transcription conventions on Prof. Charles Antaki’s CA tutorial website: or the comprehensive account in Atkinson & Heritage (1984, ix–xvi).

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Art as occasion: three critical methods for analyzing aesthetic experience

If we want to evaluate aesthetic experiences beyond forms of value we already expect to find, we should look at what people actually do when they experience and discuss art together.

I gave this talk at the 2017 CAA annual conference in Sarah Cook and Charlotte Frost‘s ‘Accelerated art history: tools and techniques for a fast-changing art world’ session. The talk focused on the kinds of things that people say when they’re discussing art, and what we can learn from observing those conversations in order to choose and calibrate our methods of arts evaluation. The main point is that given the basic philosophical problems of using objective measures to evaluate ostensibly subjective experiences, we should use empirical methods such as conversation analysis which are designed for studying interaction and participation to guide the tools and approaches we take to evaluating specific aesthetic experiences and situations.



  1. Stefan and Katherine: Audio / Transcript.
  2. Mark and Stuart: Audio / Transcript.
  3. Lee and Dominic: Audio / Transcript.


BNC Consortium (2007) The British National Corpus, version 3 (BNC XML Edition).

Coleman, J.; Baghai-Ravary, L.; Pybus, J. & Grau, S. (2012), Audio BNC: the audio edition of the Spoken British National Corpus Phonetics Laboratory, University of Oxford.

Crossick, G. & Kaszynska, P. (2016), Understanding the value of arts & culture
The AHRC Cultural Value Project, The AHRC Cultural Value Project. Retrieved from:

Hoggart, R. (1957) The Uses of Literacy New Statesman, Transaction Publishers. London, UK.

Pomerantz, A. (1984) in Atkinson, J. M. & Heritage, J. (Eds.) Agreeing and disagreeing with assessments: Some features of preferred/dispreferred turn shapes, Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis, Cambridge University Press, 57-102

Stivers, T. (2008),  Stance, alignment and affiliation during storytelling: when nodding is a token of affiliation Research on Language and Social Interaction, 41, 31-57


Theorists struggle to describe, analyze, and document event-based artwork because its relevance and value seems inextricable from the many varied experiences that involve and therefore constitute the work.

Cultural studies tackles this problem by exploring the social uses of cultural literacy: how artworks may be constituted by a community of use or propagated as mass culture. Critical sociologists of art have shifted focus from the hagiography of artists and cultural canons to diffuse cultural production, distribution, and evaluation processes within specific groups and subcultures. But then which of the situations where cultural works are used and experienced is most relevant? Today, a 90s piece may be viewed on a seat-back monitor in-flight, and early performance, ready-made, or conceptual artworks are often experienced via photographs, retellings in conversation, or as written into art histories. One solution is to treat all social uses of artworks as event-based and therefore analyzable. Recordings of everyday social settings where people engage with artworks in mundane and practical ways can reveal an artwork’s relevance and value in that specific situation. In this talk I plan to demonstrate three critical methodological approaches using three analytic vignettes: two young men shoot and narrate a YouTube video of a performance artwork; two builders discuss Jackson Pollock while plastering a wall; a gallerist and their client flip through an auction catalog. These micro-sociological events reveal the interactional uses of cultural literacy: how people themselves deal with an artwork’s many possible uses and can inform how we should best describe, analyze, and document event-based artwork.

Albert, S. (2017, February). Art as occasion: three critical methods for analyzing aesthetic experience. Paper presented at The College Art Association Annual Conference, New York.

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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)


Albert, S., Ruiter, J. de, & Ruiter, L. de. (2015). The cabnc. Online. Retrieved from

Auer, P. (1984). Referential problems in conversation. Journal of Pragmatics, 8(5), 627–648. doi:10.1016/0378-2166(84)90003-1

De Stefani, E. (2014). Establishing joint orientation towards commercial objects in a self-service store: How practices of categorisation matter. In M. Nevile, P. Haddington, T. Heinemann, & M. Rauniomaa (Eds.), Interacting with objects: Language, materiality, and social activity (pp. 271–294). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Goffman, E. (1971). Relations in public: Microstudies of the public order. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.

Goodwin, C. (1996). Transparent vision. In E. A. Schegloff & S. A. Thompson (Eds.), Interaction and grammar (pp. 370–404). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Goodwin, C., & Goodwin, M. H. (1992). Assessments and the construction of context. In C. Goodwin & A. Duranti (Eds.), Rethinking context: Language as an interactive phenomenon (Vol. 11, pp. 147–189). Cambridge: Cambridge University Pressess.

Goodwin, M. H. (1980). Processes of mutual monitoring implicated in the production of description sequences. Sociological Inquiry, 50(3-4), 303–317. doi:10.1111/j.1475-682X.1980.tb00024.x

Heritage, J. (2005). Conversation analysis and institutional talk. Handbook of Language and Social ….

Heritage, J. (2012). The Epistemic Engine: Sequence Organization and Territories of Knowledge. Research on Language & Social Interaction, 45(1), 30–52. doi:10.1080/08351813.2012.646685

Hindmarsh, J., Reynolds, P., & Dunne, S. (2011). Exhibiting understanding: The body in apprenticeship. Journal of Pragmatics, 43(2), 489–503. doi:10.1016/j.pragma.2009.09.008

Jefferson, G. (1978). Sequential aspects of storytelling in conversation. In J. Schenkein (Ed.), Studies in the organization of conversational interaction (pp. 219–248). New York, NY: Academic Press.

Keel, S. (2015). Young childrens embodied pursuits of a response to their initial assessments. Journal of Pragmatics, 75, 1–24. doi:10.1016/j.pragma.2014.10.005

Lindström, A., & Mondada, L. (2009). Assessments in Social Interaction: Introduction to the Special Issue. Research on Language & Social Interaction, 42(4), 299–308. doi:10.1080/08351810903296457

Mondada, L. (2012, \#jun\#). Multimodal organization of  the sequence: Embodied practices fori introducing new referents. ICAR-ALAN-HPSL  Summer  school.

Nevile, M. (2012). Interaction as distraction in driving: A body of evidence. Semiotica, 2012(191), 169–196. doi:10.1515/sem-2012-0060

Ogden, R. (2006). Phonetics and social action in agreements and disagreements. Journal of Pragmatics, 38(10), 1752–1775. doi:10.1016/j.pragma.2005.04.011

Pomerantz, A. (1978). Compliment responses. In J. Schenkein (Ed.), Studies in the organization of conversational interaction (pp. 79–112). Elsevier BV. doi:10.1016/b978-0-12-623550-0.50010-0

Pomerantz, A. (1984). Agreeing and disagreeing with assessments: Some features of preferred/dispreferred turn shapes. In J. M. Atkinson & J. Heritage (Eds.), Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis (pp. 57–102). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Sacks, H. (1995). Lectures on conversation. (G. Jefferson, Ed.) (Vol. II). London: Wiley-Blackwell.

Schegloff, E. A. (1988). Description in the social sciences i: Talk-in-interaction. IPrA Papers in Pragmatics, 2(1-2), 1–24. doi:10.1075/iprapip.2.1-2.01sch

Schegloff, E. A. (2004). Answering the Phone. In G. H. Lerner (Ed.), Conversation analysis: Studies from the first generation (pp. 63–109). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Schegloff, E. A. (2007). Sequence organization in interaction: Volume 1: A primer in conversation analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Schegloff, E. A., & Sacks, H. (1973). Opening up closings. Semiotica, 8(4), 289–327. doi:10.1515/semi.1973.8.4.289

Stivers, T., & Rossano, F. (2010). Mobilizing Response. Research on Language & Social Interaction, 43(1), 3–31. doi:10.1080/08351810903471258

Thompson, S. A., Fox, B. A., & Couper-Kuhlen, E. (2015). Grammar in everyday talk: Building responsive actions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,

Wiggins, S., & Potter, J. (2003). Attitudes and evaluative practices: Category vs. item and subjective vs. objective constructions in everyday food assessments. British Journal of Social Psychology, 42(4), 513–531. doi:10.1348/014466603322595257

Wittgenstein, L. (1967). Lectures and conversations on Aesthetics, Psychology and Religious Belief. (C. Barrett, Ed.). Berkeley; Los Angeles: University of California Press.

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