Conversation analysis

Ian HutchbyPaul Drew

Table of contents

Research in conversation analysis (CA) contributes alongside work in related fields within pragmatics (e.g., sociolinguistics and discourse analysis) to the development of a naturalistic, observation-based empirical science of actual verbal behavior. Recordings of naturally-occurring conversations are analyzed in order to discover how participants understand and respond to one another in their turns at talk, with a principal focus being on how sequences of activities are generated. The main objective of CA research is to uncover the sociolinguistic competences underlying the production and interpretation of talk in organized sequences of social interaction. Conversation analysis thereby represents a major bridge between linguistic analysis in the field of pragmatics, and the sociological investigation of sociality.

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