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Analysing everyday conversation: A conversation analysis workshop

Date Released: Mon, 12 May 2014 12:21 +0200

‌Everyday conversation happens around us all the time. This conversation has the potential to alert us to a range of social issues. But how do we go about analysing this conversation? What methods can help us illuminate key features of the interaction both at a micro-level and at the macro-level?

Recently, the Critical Studies in Sexualities and Reproduction (CSSR) in conjunction with the University of York hosted a conversational analysis workshop at Rhodes University. The workshop was facilitated by Dr. Merran Toerien and was attended by students, post-doctoral fellows and academic staff from the departments of Psychology, Politics and Media and Journalism.

The workshop took place from the 24th-26th of March and sought to provide a hands-on introduction to the core principles and methods of conversation analysis. This included brief lectures covering topics such as; conversation analysis transcription, turn-taking in talk, turn design, sequence organisation, preference organisation, repair, etc. After the brief lectures participants got to apply what they learnt by engaging in group exercises which involved working with actual audio and video data.

There were also two optional days to the workshop that introduced applied conversation analysis, and was tailored to the interest of the attendants. Students also had the opportunity to bring their own research data to the workshop and to work on it with others in a comfortable and supportive environment. Most students cited the importance of engaging in such workshops and recommended similar events in the future. Below are some of the statements made by the attendants:

“ I was battling with the right method to analyse my research. There is no doubt that this is the right method”

“Conversational Analysis has made me realise another way of engaging with my data”

“The workshop was organized brilliantly and provided a hands on experience working with real data. It was incredibly helpful and much appreciated. This degree of interaction and input is not usually available at workshops. This was truly unique and a much appreciated experience and opportunity”

A special thank you goes to Dr. Merran Toerien for facilitating the workshop and to the British Academy, who provided the funding.

By Ryan du Toit


Attendees of the Conversational analysis workshop

Attendees of the conversational analysis workshop

Source:Ryan Du Toit