Conversational Analysis, A the study of human interaction

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Conversational Analysis is an approach to the study of social interaction that empirically investigates the mechanisms by which humans achieve mutual understanding. A conversation refers to two or more individuals involved in a conversation with one another. Conversational Analysis examines conversations and analysing what was said, why it was said and how it was said. A key concepts in conversational analysis is the idea of “sequential organization,” which explores how actions and responses are structured in conversation. This involves studying the way speakers take turns, initiate topics, respond to each other, and manage transitions in conversation.

Conversational analysis provides valuable insights into how people navigate and make sense of social interactions through language. It has been employed in a range of disciplines and fields sociology, linguistics, anthropology and psychology. In linguistics, it has been successfully applied to the study of linguistic form and function, helping to situate the use and emergence of grammatical structure in context such as speech acts, reference, discourse markers, and particles.

Conversation Analysis focuses on both verbal and non-verbal features in a conversation and their combinations in situations of everyday life. What is a participant doing by speaking or moving in a certain way at a given moment? What evidence is there for this in the conduct that precedes, co-occurs with, and follows that stretch of behaviour?

Interaction unfolds as a chain of initiating and responding actions. This chain is a source of internal evidence for the meaning of social behaviour as it exposes the understandings that participants themselves give of what one another is doing. The alternation is regulated by a system that allocates opportunities to speak on the basis of certain rules.

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