Micro-analysis of spoken interaction

Authored by: Rachel Heinrichsmeier

The Routledge Handbook of Linguistic Ethnography

Print publication date:  September  2019
Online publication date:  August  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138938168
eBook ISBN: 9781315675824
Adobe ISBN:


 Download Chapter



This chapter explores the close analysis of spoken interaction using techniques from conversation analysis (CA) and membership categorisation analysis (MCA), showing how this can be used within a linguistic ethnographic project. It is illustrated throughout with examples from the author’s own research on older women’s interactions in a hairdressing salon. It traces the historical development of CA and MCA in the work of Sacks, Schegloff, Garfinkel and Jefferson. It goes on to discuss tensions around using ethnographic knowledge of context, given the ethnomethodological tradition’s theoretical insistence on warranting claims only with reference to recorded interactional data. Key concepts in CA are explained, including turn-taking, adjacency pairs and preference organisation. Their value is demonstrated through close analysis of a data extract, showing how the patterns identified in the interaction can be interpreted in the light of broader social discourses around age and appearance. The chapter makes an argument for the value of drawing on such fine-grained analysis of spoken interaction in ethnographic research. Future directions identified include the use of video-recording and screen-capture technologies, and using the approach with data from online and digitally mediated communication.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.