Why study conversation?


“What I call social facts are the ways of acting, thinking, and feeling external to the individual, and endowed with a power of coercion, by reason of which they control him”

  • Emile Durkheim

Garfinkel’s ‘breaching’ experiment

We obey certain social rules, and make underlying social assumptions in all our interactions. This brings about social order.

What is a social situation?

I would define a social situation as an environment of mutual monitoring possibilities… wherein an individual will find themselves accessible to the naked senses of all others who present – and similarly, find those others accessible to him.

  • Erving Goffman


Conversation Analysis

Talk is highly organized; conversation analysis involves understanding how conversational practices fit together in highly intricate ways.

Basic assumptions

  1. Order is produced orderliness
  2. Order is produced, situated, and occasioned
  3. Order is repeatable and recurrent

Characteristics of Conversation

What we ask in CA

Turn taking

Turn Constructional Units (TCU)

Transition Relevance place (TRP)

We are very attuned to grammatical intonation, so we know when to start speaking.

transition Space

silence that does not belong to any particular speaker
silence that belongs to any particular speaker