Context as a perpetual accomplishment: the flexible organization of participation frameworks and interactional spaces

Sara Merlino, Lorenza Mondada

ICAR research Lab / Univ. of Lyon, France

WS149: CA and Other Conceptions of Context: Borders and Bridges

Within a Conversation Analytical approach, context is conceived as a dynamic achievement: speakers’ actions are structured by adjusting to context while, reflexively, they shape and constitute it (Schegloff, 1992). This mutual relation is produced, at a local level, through the management of the turn-taking system, and, more globally, through the production of participation frameworks and identities in talk (Goodwin & Goodwin, 2004; Antaki & Widdicombe, 1998; Sacks, 1972).

In this paper, we aim at discussing the articulation between various dimensions contributing to contextual configurations: the establishment and changes of participation frameworks, the interactional space they invest, and the speakers’ categories displayed in these various positions. Thus, we focus on the dynamics of turn-taking by taking into account not only linguistic resources, but also multimodal ones, paying attention to the way in which participants engage in interaction through gestures, mutual glances, body postures, object manipulations, and positions within space. In this sense, participation turns out to be an embodied practice both shaping and shaped by context and organization of talk.

The articulation of these intertwined dimensions will be discussed on the basis of naturally occurring data video recorded in institutional situations characterised by very dynamic, evolving and changing participation frameworks. The corpus is constituted by multi-party encounters involving a plurilingual interaction mediated by a translator; in certain cases, a transformation of the participation framework is observed, where translation is first planned, then improvised, and finally abandoned as participants rely on alternative ways of managing their plurilingual talk. This evolution involves changes in speakership as well in interactional and institutional categories, which are constantly re-negotiated by participants through verbal, gestural and postural resources. Our analysis will focus particularly on the way in which these changes are implemented in mutual body orientations, exchanges of gazes, and positions within space. In this sense, the observed situation appears to be an exemplary case, where the local definition of the context is achieved by the situated organization of multimodal conducts, the configuration of the interactional space and the materialization of participant frameworks within space, bodies and mutual orientations.

Session: Workshop (part 2)
CA and Other Conceptions of Context: Borders and Bridges
Friday, April 4, 2008, 15:45-17:15
room: 05