Rapley, T. (2012). Analysing Conversation (Summary)

Conversation analysis was derived from ethnomethodology. The focus for research is on the local production of society through conversations. This type of analysis breaks down every nuance of conversation by reviewing recorded conversations and focusing on how people interact. Often, the data is coming from prerecorded sources, which leaves researchers with only so much context of the interaction. Therefore, I personally feel that transcripts are an important research artifact to spend time on, or to outsource professionally. This chapter does provide information on transcription symbols, which is especially useful for researchers who have outsourced this step. Of course, since conversation analysis is heavily done with recorded audio and video data, a good understanding of transcription is a worthwhile skill to perfect. Some conversations will require a more interpretive approach to analysis, where acts such as requests and refusals are not directly indicated. Sometimes, as in courtroom proceedings, the conversations will be more structured overall. Analysis of legal cases may be on one single legal case, or it may be conducted through a comparison of similar cases. Analysis of this type usually involves certain standardized identities procedural language that researchers should be aware of. In this way, it resembles discourse analysis. The key difference is the focus can be on all talk and interactions, rather than institutional languages.

Rapley, T. (2012). Analysing Conversation. In C. Seale (Ed.), Researching Society and Culture (3rd ed, pp. 424–440). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.


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