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Record Type: Review   ID: 190

Conversation Analysis: The Study of Talk-in-Interaction (Qualitative Research Methods series 35)

Psathas, George

 This is an advanced introduction to conversation analysis, or more aptly, the author points out, talk-in-interaction, or, as he adds, most accurately, interaction analysis, or best of all, ethnomethodological interaction, but conversation analysis is used because it is the term most scholars use for examining social life while it is happening. It is a method for examining any interaction—ordinary (and also, one would assume, exceptional) to find the rules and structures that produce orderliness in the exchange. The purpose, as in all science, is to develop rules that others may follow and obtain reproducible results. It is a social science technique that I think might be useful to apply to a situation in which a person who has had an exceptional human experience talks about it to another. It might be even more interesting to see how the same experiencer interacts with a person who is there as an objective observer, and one who is an avowed EHEer. The first chapter is a useful review of the history of conversation analysis and its predecessors. Details of methodology are reviewed and examples given in the subsequent chapters, but Psathas continues to review past research to show how the methodology was developed. This development approach to methodological issues is both enlightening and helps in keeping the reader’s interest remain focused on the text. The remaining chapters are "Discovering Sequences in Interaction," "Sequences and Structures in Interaction," "The Methodological Perspectives of Conversation Analysis," and a Conclusion. The latter is about future research applications of the techniques described. A valuable appendix describes transcription symbols that enables observers to quickly record pauses, silence, overlapped speech, and other characteristics of talk-in-interaction.
Publisher Information:Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1995. 84 p. Bibl: 79-84
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