Conversation Analysis

Conversation analysis (CA) is a sociological approach used to investigate the culturally methodic character of “talk-in-interaction,” which has had cross-disciplinary influence in linguistics, anthropology, and psychology. Harvey Sacks, together with his colleagues Emmanuel Schegloff and Gail Jefferson, developed CA in a series of lectures in the 1960s (now collected in Sacks 1992). His aim was to develop a thoroughly naturalistic, empirical social science, that is, one that dealt with social events as they actually occurred—and not as captured in or portrayed by sociologically staged interviews, surveys, questionnaires, or documents (the traditional ways in which social science gets access to the social world).

The development of CA was, at least initially, strongly influenced by Harold Garfinkel's ethnomethodology, the sociological study of the practical methods that members of ...

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