Conversation analysis  

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Conversation analysis (commonly abbreviated as CA) is the study of talk in interaction (both verbal and non-verbal in situations of everyday life). CA generally attempts to describe the orderliness, structure and sequential patterns of interaction, whether institutional (in school, a doctor's surgery, court or elsewhere) or in casual conversation.

Inspired by ethnomethodology (e.g. Harold Garfinkel and Erving Goffman), 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. 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, as well as being a coherent discipline in its own right. Recently CA techniques of sequential analysis have been employed for instance by phoneticians to explore the fine phonetic detail of speech (Kelly and Local 1989). [1]

The use of the term “conversation” to label this disciplinary movement is sometimes considered to be misleading. For instance, one of CA’s principal practitioners, Emanuel Schegloff, has more recently identified “talk-in-interaction” as CA’s topic. Perhaps for this same reason, others (e.g., Jonathan Potter) who use CA methods identify themselves as discourse analysts (DA), though that term was first used to identify researchers using methods different from CA (e.g., Levinson, 1983), and still identifies a group of scholars larger than those who use only CA methods.

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