The Sequential and Categorial layering of an omni-relevant device within topic talk.

Fitzgerald, Richard

University of Queensland, Australia

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

Within conversation analysis and membership category analysis the warrant for any instance of analytic interest is always the demonstrable relevance or orientation to phenomena by the interactants. This has proved a difficult methodological orientation to follow particularly in studies which wish to address wider social structural contexts such as institutional talk and the recent discussions of gender. Within these discussions the problem of participant relevance to the phenomena under examination has tended to prove illusive, as they are often fragmentary, and therefore weaken the possibility of exploring social structural features as omni present or as operating or influencing the background understandings and orientations of participants. In this discussion I want to revisit Sacks (1995) original, but brief, discussion of omni relevance in the therapy sessions in order to explore the possibility of approaching the notion of omni relevance within a multi layering of categorial relevances. That is, the discussion seeks to explore the possibility of a warrant for the claim that within the layering of membership devices within a sequence of interaction there is an analytically observable orientation to an omni-relevant device. Moreover that this ‘omni relevant’ device operates as background to the occasioned topic devices as a kind of ‘default’ orientation and which organises the participation context. In order to illustrate the participant orientation to this omni relevant device the analysis draws upon a transcript of a conversation in which various touched of topics generate interactional and membership devices. Whilst these devices are seen to organise the topic at hand there are occasions where topic talk is suspended and at this time where a different membership device is oriented to. There is then observable a shift between membership devices within the interaction at various points. This oscillation between devices suggests a layering of the devices and the possibility of a kind of ‘hierarchy’ of membership devices in which a default membership device is oriented to at times when topically generated devices are suspended. This of course does not suggest that the omni relevant device may not be a topical device but that the omni relevant device reveals itself through the cracks, joints and articulation of touched off topic devices. By returning to and exploring the notion of omni relevant devices within interaction, as oriented to as part of a layering of topical membership devices, allows at least the possibility of exploring a wider participant orientation within interaction and the warrant to analytically invoke a backgrounded organisational device, and how that device my operate.

Session: Workshop (part 1)
CA and Other Conceptions of Context: Borders and Bridges
Friday, April 4, 2008, 13:45-15:15
room: 05