What happens when a friend starts talking about her own substance use and misuse? This article provides the first investigation of how substance use is spontaneously topicalized in naturally occurring conversation. It presents a detailed analysis of a rare video-recorded interaction showing American English-speaking university students talking about their own substance (mis)use in a residential setting. During this conversation, several substance (mis)use informings are disclosed about one participant, and this study elucidates what occasions each disclosure, and how participants respond to each disclosure. This research shows how participants use casual conversation to offer important substance (mis)use information to their friends and cohabitants, tacitly recruiting their surveillance. Analysis also uncovers how an emerging adult peer group enacts informal social control, locally (re-)constituting taken-for-granted social norms, and the participants’ social relationships, to on the one hand promote alcohol use while, on the other hand endeavoring to prevent one member from engaging in continued pain medication misuse. This article thus illuminates ordinary peer conversation as an important site for continued sociological research on substance (mis)use and prevention.
This article analyzes naturally occurring video-recorded openings during which participants make the sensory social through the action of registering—calling joint attention to a selected, publicly perceiv- able referent so others shift their sensory attention to it. It examines sequence-initial actions that register referents for which a participant is regarded as responsible. Findings demonstrate a systematic preference organization which observably guides when and how people initiate registering sequences sensitive to ownership of, and displayed stance toward, the target referent. Analysis shows how registering an owned referent achieves intersubjectivity and puts involved participants’ face, affiliation, and social relationship on the line. A video abstract is available at https://youtu.be/rNL70vawG3o
When arriving to a social encounter, how and when can a person show how s/he is doing/feeling? This article answers this question, examining personal state sequences in copresent openings of casual (residential) and institutional (parent-teacher) encounters. Describing a regular way participants constitute—and move to expand—these sequences, this research shows how arrivers display a nonneutral (e.g., negative, humorous, positive) personal state by both (1) deploying interactionally timed stance-marking embodiments that enact a nonneutral state, and (2) invoking a selected previous activity/experience positioned as pre- cipitating that nonneutral state. Data demonstrate that arrivers time their nonneutral personal state displays calibrated to their understand- ing of their relationship with coparticipants. Analysis reveals that arri- vers use this action to proffer a firsthand experience as a self-attentive first topic that works as a bid for empathy, inviting recipients to collaborate in expanding the personal state sequence and thereby cocreate an empathic moment. Data in American English.
This article introduces the special issue of Research on Language and Social Interaction organized around the theme “Opening and Maintaining Face-to- Face Interaction.” The contributions to this special issue collectively consider “how to begin”—either a new encounter or a new sequence after a lapse in conversation. All articles analyze naturally occurring, video-recorded episodes of casual and/or institutional copresent interaction using multimodal conversation analytic methods. Though the opening phase of a face-to-face encounter may elapse in a matter of seconds, this article shows it to house a dense universe of phenomena central to sustaining our human sense of self and our social relation- ships in everyday life. Before introducing the individual contributions to this special issue, this article elucidates state-of-the-art findings from conversation analytic research on how people begin encounters, delineating the modular components that people regularly use to constitute the copresent opening phase of interaction. Data in American English.
It is commonly assumed that teasing is restricted to encounters among intimates or close acquaintances. As a result of examining initial interactions among (American and Australian) speakers of English, however, this article shows that teasing also occurs between persons who are becoming acquainted. Analysis reveals that tease sequences unfold across three actions that constitute the tease as an invitation to intimacy: a teasable action on the part of the target, the tease proper and a moment of interactionally generated affiliation. Given teasing is one way of criticising another, it constitutes a potential breach of tact or interactional propriety. In initial interactions, however, participants can construe this potential impropriety as an invitation to intimacy, as it involves the proposal of a shared ironic stance that may be either accepted or declined by the target of the tease.
Conversation analytic research on “preference organization” investigates recorded episodes of naturally occurring social interaction to elucidate how people systematically design their actions to either support or undermine social solidarity. This line of work examines public forms of conduct that are highly generalized and institutionalized, not the private desires, subjective feelings or psychological preferences of individuals. This article provides a detailed and accessible overview of classic and contemporary conversation analytic findings about preference, which collectively demonstrate that human interaction is organized to favor actions that promote social affiliation (through face-preservation) at the expense of conflict (resulting from face-threat). While other overviews on this topic exist, the present article is the first to synthesize findings about the preference organization of responding and initiating actions, elucidating key preference principles distilled from over 45 years of conversation analytic work, including the preferences for: (i) recipient design, (ii) contiguity and agreement, (iii) progressivity, (iv) offers over requests, (v) recognition over self-identification, (vi) self-correction over other-correction, (vii) self-criticism over other-criticism (avoiding other-criticism), and (viii) other-praise over self-praise (avoiding self-praise).
As the principal occasion for establishing cooperation between family and school, the parent-teacher conference is crucial to the social and educational lives of children. But there is a problem: reports of parent-teacher conflict pervade extant literature. Previous studies do not, however, explain how conflict emerges in real time or how conflict is often avoided during confer- ences. This article examines a diverse corpus of video-recorded naturally oc- curring conferences to elucidate a structural preference organization operative during parent-teacher interaction that enables participants to fore- stall conflict. Focusing on teachers’ conduct around student-praise and student-criticism, this investigation demonstrates that teachers do extra inter- actional work when articulating student-criticism. This research explicates two of teachers’ most regular actions constituting this extra work: obfuscating responsibility for student-troubles by omitting explicit reference to the student, and routinizing student-troubles by invoking other comparable cases of that same trouble. Analysis illuminates teachers’ work to maintain solidarity with students, and thus parents.
A compliment is a speaker’s expression of a positive stance toward some referent attributable to her/his addressed-recipient. Belonging to a larger class of supportive actions, compliments provide a key practice through which a participant to interaction can display explicit approval of another person, and thus can help interlocutors create or maintain social solidarity.
To complain is to express suffering or discontentedness as a result of experiencing some trouble. Complaining is one way of interactionally displaying a negative affective stance toward someone or something. What exactly constitutes a complaint and/or the action of complaining in recorded, naturally occurring talk-in-interaction, however, defies definition because it is a phenomenon that participants can manage implicitly or explicitly, concurrent with other activities, and over the course of an extended sequence of conversation. Rather than referring to complaints, LSI scholars refer to complainability to highlight the fact that the possibility of complaining can inform interaction without a complaint becoming manifest in participants’ conduct. Complaining is an important practice through which participants manage their social relationships: parties observably exercise care in determining who to complain to, what kinds of complaints to make to which kinds of recipient, and how to co-construct the complaining activity, including how recipients respond. Through complaining sequences, parties can enact morality as a potent mechanism of social control.
This research advances our understanding of what constitutes a “good parent” in the course of actual social interaction. Examining video-recorded naturally occurring parent–teacher conferences, this article shows that, while teachers deliver student-praising utterances, parents may display that they are gaining knowledge; but when teachers’ actions adumbrate student-criticizing utterances, parents systematically display prior knowledge. This article elucidates the details of how teachers and parents tacitly collabo- rate to enable parents to express student-troubles first, demonstrating that parents display competence—appropriate involvement with children’s schooling—by asserting their prior knowledge of, and/or claiming/describing their efforts to remedy, student-troubles. People (have to) display competence generically in interaction. By explicating how parents display competence, this article offers insights for several areas of communication research.
This research advances our understanding of what constitutes ‘‘a compliment’’ and ‘‘self- praise’’ in social interaction. Examining video-recorded naturally occurring parent-teacher conference interactions, this article demonstrates that participants treat utterances that praise nonpresent students as implicating praise of parents: parents respond to teachers’ student-praising utterances as compliments; teachers laugh after they explicitly credit student success to parents, displaying their orientation to these crediting utterances as delicate because they leak teachers’ evaluation of parents based upon students’ performance in school; and parents work to avoid articulating student-praising utterances, thereby avoiding implications of self-praise. This research thus reveals that, rather than affording a mutually enjoyable moment of celebration transparently supportive of social solidarity, the action of praising students occasions interactional problems for conference participants.
This article examines the social action of greeting in naturally occurring face-to-face interaction, paying special attention to how people prosodically produce their very first vocalized utterances. Close analysis of a corpus of 337 video recorded openings shows that participants recipient design greetings on the level of prosody, tailoring them to each addressee and thus hearably displaying a stance toward the current state and character of their social relationship. Documenting the discovery of a prosodic continuum along which parties fine-tune their greetings, this article elucidates two dis- tinct clusters of prosodic features with which participants recurrently design their greetings. Analysis demonstrates that parties use each prosodic cluster to display a different stance toward encountering the addressed recipient, with prosodically “large” greetings displaying a positive stance of approval and prosodically “small” greetings displaying (no more than) a neutral stance.
As the gateway to personal social relationships, introductions are critical to sustaining everyday social life. This article provides the first detailed empirical analysis of naturally occurring introductions, elucidating the interactional work participants do to achieve a sequence as an introduction. Close examination of video recorded introductions between English-speaking persons coming together to socialize and/or do work reveals that: when a known-in-common person is present, parties treat mediator-initiated introductions as preferred over self-initiated introductions; when launching introductions, offers of identifying information are strongly preferred over requests; in formulating introducible persons, speakers select from many possible name forms and social categories/identities; and parties hold themselves and others accountable for a display of remembering persons with whom they have worked through introductions. This research thus demonstrates that, during introduction sequences, participants locally manage social norms fundamental to the maintenance of ‘‘face,’’ interactional affiliation, and social solidarity.
In our everyday interactions as they unfold in real time, how do we do including? This article examines a specific set of interactional moments when the potential to be included (or not) recurs: when a newcomer arrives to some social scene where two or more already-present per- sons are actively engaged in some activity and that newcomer displays interest in joining into their activity. I show how arriving newcomers bodily display that they want to join into the pre-present party’s interaction, and I analyze a key utterance-based practice that pre-present speakers use to include newcomers into their interaction—the practice of previous activity for- mulating. Through this practice, speakers summarize the activities or conversational topics in which they were engaged before establishing copresence with arrivers, thereby making way and making sense for them so they can join into their interaction. By showing that participants treat pre-present speakers’ offers of formulations as preferred over arrivers’ requests for for- mulations, I demonstrate that how speakers come to deliver these formulations implicates social solidarity between pre-present and arriving parties.
This article analyzes the interactions through which primary-care nurses and patients accomplish patient weighing. The analysis is based on videotaped nurse–adult patient interactions in clinics in the area of Southern California. Detailed examination of co-participants’ naturally situated weighing conduct shows that parties recurrently deliver utterances that go beyond that required to accomplish weight measurement–precisely ‘‘where’’ they ‘‘are’’ within the weighing process shaping how they produce and understand these utterances. Using weighing as a locus of epistemic negotiation and potential affiliation, co-participants interactionally achieve the distribution of weight/weighing knowledge and the character of their social relationship. Confronting their numerical weight results in a social/medical setting, patients can use expansive weighing utterances to claim or demonstrate that they possess pre-existing knowledge regarding weight, asserting independent expertise vis-a` -vis nurses and claiming result co-recipiency and co- ownership. Speakers can also use expansive utterances to proffer an interactional opportunity for affiliation, inviting recipients to collaborate in producing a more personalized encounter. Through the acceptance or declination of these invitations, the parties work out ‘‘who’’ they ‘‘are’’ to and for one another.
This article examines “okay” deployed as an assessment of student performance in parent–teacher conference interactions. By elucidating what is being done by a speaker who terms a student’s performance “okay” and a recipient who accepts or resists it so termed, this investigation shows “okay” to be directly and overtly rele- vant to and for the parties and the activities in which they are engaged. Data drawn from 35 videotaped and audiotaped conferences are presented to demonstrate that “okay” participates as a value in two distinct metrics of assessment—one binary, one gradated. Analysis reveals parties’ organized, systematic means of recognizing which metric is being made relevant in and through their talk on a local, moment-by- moment basis. By interactionally situating “okay” as a value within a binary or gradated metric, parties imbue it with a locally calibrated valence that can directly impact the social and educational lives of children.