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Charles Goodwin and John Heritage (1990)

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Conversational Analysis was introduced by Harvey Sacks and his partners which are Emanuel Schegloff and Gail Jefferson at the University of California in the 1960s. It was developed in an intellectual environment shaped by Goffman’s work on the moral underpinnings of social interaction and Garfinkel’s ethnomethodology focusing on the interpretive procedures underlying social action. Sacks started to study the real-time sequential ordering of actions which are rules, patterns, and structures in the relations between actions. Thereby, he made a radical shift in the perspective of social scientific inquiry into social interaction: instead of treating social interaction as a screen upon which other processes such as moral, inferential, or others were projected, Sacks started to study the very structures of the interaction itself.

There are two essential parts of conversational analysis which are analytic and methodological orientations. Thus, this paper will discuss some aspects of the subsequent development of conversation-analytic research and findings that dominantly based on anthropologist’s interest. There are dimensions of context that are accomplished within a turn at talk and in sequences of talk, preference and politeness, conversation-analytic approaches to narrative and story-telling and the relevance of conversational analysis to anthropology. Within conversational analysis, there are some salient researches that focused on the problem in setting where social interaction is different with conversational interaction. One of them is, Sack study (1974) which indicated that among various form of interactions, turn taking procedures might differ. As shown in his studies of courtrooms, classroom and news-interview. This study is dealing with the problem of context and categorization because the use of turn taking whether it is distinctive or normatively sanctioned, it indicates the participants’ pervasive orientation to particular social context and identities in compare with ordinary conversation.

Conversational analysis work on preference and presequences has shown about how the larger social and interactive processes are tied with the design of turns and the management of sequences. Some of the examples are to solicit a name without overtly doing so, to evoke and resist the evocation in refusing invitation context, “trouble telling” sequence exit management, a psychiatric interview initiation, to manage gossip with an absent of third party, to design an utterance in dealing with incipient disagreement, to pursue ad escalate argument and conflict. In conversational-analytic approach to narrative and story-telling work, it is indicated that stories are analyzed not as self-contained description. It is analyzed an action modes that situated within interaction. This analysis is investigating how narrative is organized by, and helps shape, the circumstances of its production which is relevant with contemporary work within linguistic anthropology.

In conclusion, conversational analysis goes beyond the approaches that have been exposed in this study which is integrating the details of language structure and social constitution of meaning and action within an analytic framework. Conversational analysis is providing a perspective within which language, culture, and social organization can be analyzed not as separate subfields but as integrated elements of coherent courses of action which transcends the traditional disciplinary boundaries of social anthropology.

Goodwin, C & Heritage J. (1990). Conversational Analysis. JSTOR Annual Review of Anthropology 19:283-307

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