Qualitative Data Analysis: An introduction Carol Grbich Chapter 18: Conversation analysis
Conversation analysis Key points • Transcriptions of naturally occurring conversations form the substance of the data in conversational analysis • Identification and discussion of the ‘devices’ used by participants in the communication process provides the major focus • Structures and social systems are reflected in interactive behaviours • Analytical approaches include: seeking the mundane in everyday conversations. reading the language of environmental settings understanding chat room conversation
Conversation analysis • When to use: when you have access to naturally occurring conversations which can be transcribed • Type of research question: How do people interact through the medium of conversations within particular environments? • Strengths: clarifies the dynamics of interaction by looking at the minutiae of turn taking • Weaknesses:when we only have access to transcriptions of spoken dialogue the revealing facial expressions and non-verbal communications are missing.
The purpose of conversation analysis The objective of CA is the description of the procedures by which conversationalists produce their own behaviour and understand and deal with the behaviour of others. The central goal of CA is the description and explication of the procedures that ordinary speakers use and rely on in participating in intelligible, socially organized interaction.
Analysis and data presentation • A conversation is defined as at least two turns i.e. 2 people interacting verbally). • The socio-cultural content and context of conversation or interactive talk in the construction of meaning making can be explored through a detailed inspection of tape recordings and their transcriptions. • Analysis focuses on conversation sets, visuals, non verbal interaction and environmental and social structures that impact on everyday behaviour as well as individual conversations . • Most practitioners of CA tend to refrain, in their research reports, from extensive theoretical and methodological discussion but this varies from discipline to discipline. A CA report will comprise a detailed discussion of transcriptions of recordings of (mostly verbal) interaction in terms of the 'devices' used byparticipants.
Speech acts. : • Assertions; these are statements which state, describe, predict, announce or speculate. For example: ‘It is cold today’; ‘I wonder what the weather will be like tomorrow?’, ‘I think it will be fine.’ ‘There are long flakes of snow catching on the leaves and sliding to the ground’. • Declaration; A stronger form of assertion ; ‘I pronounce you man and wife’ ‘You’re hired/fired/redundant.’ ‘I sentence you to 10 years of imprisonment’. • Directives: These attempt to produce some form of action/response in another person, through requests, commands, questions, suggestions and orders. E.g..: ‘Do this.’ ‘Tell me what happened’, ‘Would you like to come with me?’ “Why did you do that?” • Commissives involve the elicitation of guarantees and vows of the order of; ‘Promise not to tell anyone else’.
Speech Acts 2 • Expressive statements; here the speaker’s feelings are shared through apologies, thanks, greetings, acknowledgements and compliments. For example; ‘I’m really sorry about that’, “I think that definitely suits you’ “Thank you so much for…’. • Sequential features – turn taking or adjacency pairs which are expected paired interactions of matching responses such as: ‘Congratulations!’ and ‘Thank you very much’ ‘Promise not to tell anyone’ and ‘I promise’, “I wish to complain about…’ and ‘I’m very sorry about…’ “How are you?’ and ‘I am well, thank you” ‘Are you responsible for this?’ and ‘No I had nothing to do with that’. Pairs may also be question and answer type pairs such as ; ‘Can I come round to visit you this evening?’ and ‘Yes/no’. Some question answer pairs are more complex and contain conditional interactions e.g. ‘Shall we go for a walk this evening?’ ‘Do you think it will rain? ‘No’ ‘Then I’d love to,’
Researcher options • examine situated activities with audio/video equipment seeking order and mundaneity in the constructed interaction of everyday happenings. • attempt to make sense of information/visuals which are very different from those of the usual conversational interactions such as reading the language of a coffee bar which converses with patrons both in terms of signs and through the layout of tables and counter • put yourself in unusual situations where routine sense making may not work, for example following non sequential conversations recorded in chat rooms
A model of CA's research practices • Select episodes to be analysed Only ordinary conversation as it is naturally occurring should be included, no interviews nor staged scripts Record the material to be analysed. • Transcribe recordings. The following information should be included for complete analysis of the conversation: Time, date and place of the original recording Participant information Words and sounds as uttered Spaces, silences Overlapping speech and sounds Pace, stretches (::), stress(es) (underlining), volume (CAPS indicate increased volume) Visual information • Check the episode carefully in terms of turn-taking: • Look for sequences • Try to make sense of the episode • Interpret the material in a comparative manner (Adapted from ten Have 2007and Wang ,2011)
Questions to facilitate analysis: Is the conversation: • an amicable, a heated discussion, or an outright argument about personal or political issues? • Is it an equal exchange? or is one person leading? • What happens when one person moves to a dominant questioning or declarative mode and how does this structure or impact on the conversation? • Are any misunderstandings evident? • If there is any tension, how is it created? maintained? reflected in the structure of the conversation? • What is your response as a reader to this conversation?
3 types of conversational analysis • mundane conversations • the ‘conversations; of public places • internet chat rooms.