Conversational analysis is also known as sequential analysis. Conversational analysis is one of three central themes that are the focus of ethnomethodology, the other two being mundane reasoning and membership categorization.
Sociologists typically examine talk or conversation as a resource to learn something of people's attitudes, the ways people's lives are structured and how people differ from each other in their values and assumptions.
The ethnomethodologist, on the other hand, treats talk or conversation as a topic to learn how ordinary members of society use properties of talk (eg: its sequential properties) in order to do things with words. A great deal of research has been done on the structure of turn taking, story telling and openings.
Conversation Analysis researchers insist on the use of audio or video recordings of episodes of 'naturally occurring', that is non-experimental, interaction as their basic data.
Conversation Analysis (CA), a research tradition that grew out of ethnomethodology, has some unique methodological features. It studies the social organization of 'conversation', or 'talk-in-interaction', by a detailed inspection of tape recordings and transcriptions made from such recordings. I will discuss some of the problems and dilemma's conversation analysts deal with in their daily practice, using both the literature and my own experiences as resources. I will present Conversation Analysis' research strategy as a solution to ethnomethodology's problem of the 'invisibility' of common sense and describe it in an idealized form as a seven step procedure. Conversation Analysis is a disciplined way of studying the local organization of interactional episodes, its unique methodological practice has enabled its practitioners to produce a mass of insights into the detailed procedural foundations of everyday life. It has developed some very practical solutions to some rather thorny methodological problems. As such it is methodologically 'impure', but it works. - Methodological Issues In Conversation Analysis - by Paul ten Have, University of Amsterdam.
Doing Conversation Analysis (Introducing Qualitative Methods series) - This Second Edition of Paul ten Have's now classic text on Doing Conversation Analysis has been substantially revised to bring the book up-to-date with the many changes that have occurred in Conversation Analysis over recent years. The book has a dual purpose: to introduce the reader to Conversation Analysis as a specific research approach in the human sciences, and to provide students and novice researchers with methodological and practical suggestions for actually doing Conversation Analysis research.
Methodological Issues In Conversation Analysis - by Paul ten Have Extract: Introduction - Interests and practices of Conversation Analysis - Most practitioners of Conversation Analysis tend to refrain, in their research reports, from extensive theoretical and methodological discussion. Conversation Analysis papers tend to be exclusively devoted to an empirically based discussion of specific analytic issues. This may contribute to the confusion of readers who are not familiar with this particular research style. They will use their habitual expectations, derived from established social-scientific practice, as a frames of reference in understanding this unusual species of scientific work. But a Conversation Analysis report will not generally have an a priori discussion of the literature to formulate hypotheses.
The basic reasoning in Conversation Analysis seems to be that methodological procedures should be adequate to the materials at hand and to the problems one is dealing with, rather than them being pre-specified on a priori grounds.
Conversation Analysis may then be conceived as a
specific analytic trajectory which may be used to reach a specific kind of systematic
insight in the ways in which members of society 'do interaction'. In their introduction to
a collection of research papers, Heritage & Atkinson (1984) write: The central goal of
conversation analytic research is the description and explication of the competences that
ordinary speakers use and rely on in participating in intelligible, socially organized
interaction. At its most basic, this objective is one of describing the procedures by
which conversationalists produce their own behavior and understand and deal with the
behavior of others.