Conversation analysis

Conversation analysis (CA) is an approach to the study of social interaction, embracing both verbal and non-verbal conduct, in situations of everyday life. CA originated as a sociological method, but has since spread to other fields. CA began with a focus on casual conversation,[1] but its methods were subsequently adapted to embrace more task- and institution-centered interactions, such as those occurring in doctors' offices, courts, law enforcement, helplines, educational settings, and the mass media. As a consequence, the term 'conversation analysis' has become something of a misnomer, but it has continued as a term for a distinctive and successful approach to the analysis of sociolinguistic interactions.

History

Inspired by Harold Garfinkel's ethnomethodology[1] and Erving Goffman's conception of the interaction order,[2] CA was developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s principally by the sociologist Harvey Sacks and his close associates Emanuel Schegloff and Gail Jefferson.[3] It is distinctive in that its primary focus is on the production of social actions in the context of sequences of actions, rather than messages or propositions. Today CA is an established method used in sociology, anthropology, linguistics, speech-communication and psychology. It is particularly influential in interactional sociolinguistics, discourse analysis and discursive psychology.