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Talk in Action: Interactions, Identities, and Institutions

ISBN: 978-1-4051-8550-9
322 pages
April 2010, Wiley-Blackwell
Talk in Action: Interactions, Identities, and Institutions (1405185503) cover image
Talk in Action examines the language, identity, and interaction of social institutions, introducing students to the research methodology of Conversation Analysis.
  • Features a unique focus on real-world applications of CA by examining four institutional domains: calls to emergency numbers, doctor-patient interaction, courtroom trials, and mass communication,
  • Provides a theoretical and methodological overview of the roots of CA, reviewing the main developments and findings of research on talk and social institutions conducted over the past 25 years
  • Showcases the significance of this subject to everyday events, making it ideal for students coming to the field for the first time
  • Written by two leading figures in the field of Conversation Analysis
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1 Introduction 1

Part 1 Conversation Analysis and Social Institutions 5

2 Conversation Analysis: Some Theoretical Background 7

3 Talking Social Institutions into Being 20

4 Dimensions of Institutional Talk 34

Part 2 Calls for Emergency Service 51

5 Emergency Calls as Institutional Talk 53

6 Gatekeeping and Entitlement to Emergency Service 69

7 Emergency Calls under Stress 87

Part 3 Doctor–Patient Interaction 101

8 Patients’ Presentations of Medical Issues: The Doctor’s Problem 103

9 Patients’ Presentations of Medical Issues: The Patient’s Problem 119

10 History Taking in Medicine: Questions and Answers 135

11 Diagnosis and Treatment: Medical Authority and Its Limits 154

Part 4 Trials, Juries, and Dispute Resolution 171

12 Trial Examinations 173

13 Jury Deliberations 186

14 Informal Modes of Dispute Resolution 200

Part 5 News and Political Communication 213

15 News Interview Turn Taking 215

16 Question Design in the News Interview and Beyond 227

17 Answers and Evasions 245

18 Interaction en Masse: Audiences and Speeches 263

19 Conclusion 280

Transcript Symbols 283

References 288

Index of Names 304

Index of Subjects 309

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Steven Clayman is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He has written extensively on topics relating to conversation analysis and is co-author, with John Heritage, of The News Interview: Journalists and Public Figures on the Air (2002).

John Heritage is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles. His publications include Garfinkel and Ethnomethodology (1984) and Communication in Medical Care: Interaction between Primary Care Physicians and Patients (2006).

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  •  Offers an authoritative and accessible introduction to the methodology of Conversation Analysis (CA), by exploring the intersections between interactional practices, social identities, and the role of institutions
  • Features a unique focus on real-world applications of CA by examining four institutional domains: calls to emergency numbers, doctor-patient interaction, courtroom trials, and mass communication,
  • Provides a theoretical and methodological overview of the roots of CA, reviewing the main developments and findings of research on talk and social institutions conducted over the past 25 years
  • Showcases the significance of this subject to everyday events, making it ideal for students coming to the field for the first time
  • Written by two leading figures in the field of Conversation Analysis
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"More specifically, this book provides an excellent recapitulation of empirical work in four key areas of institutional talk.”  (Journal of Sociolinguistics, 1 February 2013) 

“Lastly, as a more general recommendation, I should say that anyone interested in the intersection of context, identity and talk-in interaction would not be spending their time poorly by exploring some of the chapters in this exceptionally well-designed book, and I feel it is safe to say that this book will remain the go-to foundational text for Institutional Conversational Analysis for some time to come.”  (Journal of Language and Politics, 2012)

“As a whole, Talk in Action: Interactions, Identities and Institutionsis a highly recommended, state-of-the-art book for researchers who wish to explore naturally occurring processes and self-construction in face-to-face and telephone institutional communication.”  (Discourse and Communication, 1 November 2012)

“As such, this volume provides a valuable guide to analytical tools for understanding institutional talk. Useful for students and emerging scholars of CA and institutional talk, this volume sheds light on both the analytical approach and conceptual themes that are relevant within these domains and beyond.”  (Discourse Studies, 2012)

"Among the great assets of this publication is the comprehensive coverage of research on the areas in focus, conversation analytic or otherwise. This makes the book a perfect starting point for anyone interested in institutional interaction of the varieties described here. True to its conversation analytic roots, the book manages to combine this large-scale overview of the literature with detailed analysis, which is always highly relevant and revealing. This book is an impressive scholarly achievement, spanning a vast amount of research and a wide variety of institutional settings. Any student of talk -- institutional or otherwise -- will find this an indispensable source of conversation analytic insight." (Linguist List, November 2010)

Heritage's and Clayman's book is a comprehensive introduction to the conversation analytic approach to institutional talk, focusing on emergency telephone calls, doctor-patient interactions, interaction in court, and news interviews / mass communication . . .overall, however, this book is an impressive scholarly achievement, spanning a vast amount of research and a wide variety of institutional settings. Any student of talk - institutional or otherwise - will find this an indispensable source of conversation analytic insight." (LinguistList.), 1 November 2010)

“There is no doubt that this important and timely book will become the definitive reference on institutional interaction.  It is clear, concise and authoritative. I will use it in my teaching.”
Jonathan Potter, Loughborough University

“The study of language and interaction in institutional settings represents something of a rapprochement between core themes in sociology and sociolinguistics, and is one of the most exciting interdisciplinary fields to have emerged recently. Heritage and Clayman provide a comprehensive, authoritative and highly readable account of the field, suitable for both students and researchers.”
Paul Drew, University of York

“Like predecessors such as Structures of Social Action and Talk at Work, this book promises to set a milestone in the field of conversation analysis. The fact that the materials have been field tested on undergraduates and graduates for years guarantees success in many kinds of courses related to CA or using CA as part of the syllabus. It's a wonderful and eminently readable achievement.”
Douglas Maynard, University of Wisconsin-Madison

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