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Remote Lectures


Sequential, Linguistic and Multimodal Resources for Action Ascription

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This lecture briefly outlines some of the main resources – both internal and external to the turn – that may contribute to the process of action ascription.  It is suggested that action ascription involves the integration of ‘bottom-up’ resources within the turn (including grammar, lexicon, prosody, gaze and multi-modality) with ‘top-down’ resources external to the turn (sequence position, location of the sequence within a broader activity, institutional contexts, and personal statuses and the rights accruing to them). Work on the integration of these resources may also shed light on the apparent rapidity with which action ascription is achieved by comparison with the slower pace of turn projection. In the case of European and other ‘front-loaded languages’, it is possible that the integration of turn external characteristics may contribute towards this outcome.

Aug Nishizaka (Chiba University)


Seeing the physiognomy of an object: 

Doing inspecting in interaction

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Participants in interaction occasionally lean and maintain their gazes toward an object. With this embodied practice, they may be doing “specifically inspecting the object.” In the detailed analysis of several interactional fragments, this study demonstrates that participants use this practice as a resource for avoiding an utterance being constructed as a particular action. This suggests that seeing may be a constitutive part of an action type rather than collecting information from the environment through a distinctive sense; seeing is a part of the bodily configuration, involving multiple bodies, in which an action is constructed. We see, as it were, the physiognomy of an object that changes according to the temporal unfolding of an ongoing activity, rather than seeing the object simpliciter.

Suggested Readings

Nishizaka, A. (2022). The granularity of seeing in interaction. Journal of

Pragmatics, 190, 24-40.

Nishizaka, A. (2018). Aspect-seeing in the interactional organization of

activities. Tartu Semiotics Library, 19

Anita Pomerantz (University at Albany)


Evidence for Claims about Sense-Making associated with Assessments

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The talk focuses on evidence that analysts may use to substantiate claims involving interactants’ shared assumptions, understandings, expectations, and reasoning – claims that people associate with cognition. Some conversation analysts steer clear of such claims and assertion about cognitive states, arguing that such claims cannot be substantiated with interactional conduct. While it is true that interactional conduct does not provide direct evidence about understandings, expectations, and reasoning, such processes are very much a part of what goes into interactional actions, sequences, and practices. Our analysis should recognize the place of sense-making in interactional conduct. In this talk, I focus on what may be used as credible evidence for interactants’ assumptions about disagreeing with a co-participant, praising oneself, and the relationships between accessing/experiencing a referent and assessing the referent.

Suggested Readings

Pomerantz, A. (1984). Agreeing and disagreeing with assessments: some features

of preferred/dispreferred turns shapes. In J. M. Atkinson & J. Heritage (Eds.), Structures of social action (pp. 57-101). Cambridge University Press.

Pomerantz, A. (1978). Compliment responses: Notes on the co-operation of

multiple constraints. In J. Schenkein (Ed.) Studies in the organization of conversational interaction (pp. 79-112). Academic Press.


The Importance of Collections and Strategies for Building Them

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The foundation of Conversation Analysis is the single-case analysis. However, there are at least four, related reasons to assemble collections of cases. First, the significance of any behavior of interest (e.g., a pointing gesture) needs to be understood in terms of social action. Second, all actions are locally situated, at least in terms of their composition (which likely entails behaviors beyond, e.g., a pointing gesture, to a gestalt of behaviors) and sequential position, but often in other ways as well (e.g., epistemics). Third, the analysis of action ascription is more productive when conceptualizing the relationship between practices and actions as one of ‘family resemblances,’ as opposed to ‘one-to-one.’ Fourth, actions are normatively organized, meaning that, although they are regularly produced and understood in particular ways that regularly instantiate particular normative-moral accountabilities that are regularly associated with particular patterns of interactional conduct, irregular productions (i.e., deviations) are strategic and accountable, and thus meaningful. For at least these reasons, collections are necessary insofar as single cases – or even several of them – are often insufficient to comprehensively describe social action. In this talk, I discuss: (1) the importance of collections for conducting socially systematic conversation analysis; and (2) strategies for building collections in ways that support such analysis.

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