The organization of social interaction

My research interests deal with the organization of interaction, as it can be documented through video and audio recordings of naturally occurring social practices. 

Within conversation analysis, ethnomethodology, interactional linguistics and workplace studies, my work investigates the practices by which participants accomplish the organization of turns at talk, sequences and activities in a situated, mutually achieved, emerging, finely tuned way. 

Following Harvey Sacks' inspiration, I take into consideration both sequential organization as well as the organization of membership categorization. I have been working on a variety of contexts and practices, ranging from ordinary conversations to institutional talk in interaction to workplace interactions, including not only ‘native' speaker interactions, but also lingua franca, multilingual, and second language talk. 

In all these cases, I am interested both in describing the interactional practices by which social activities are accomplished and the linguistic and embodied resources participants both exploit and shape for organizing these practices in a locally situated manner.​​​​​

 

Grammar in interaction

Working as a linguist on social interaction, I am interested in the way grammatical resources are both locally exploited for the practical purposes of the sequential organization of talk in interaction and locally transformed and constituted through their very use in actual social practices. Social interaction as the « natural habitat » for grammar has consequences not only for how grammar is used but also for how it is changing. 

This approach to linguistic resources, developed within conversation analysis and interactional linguistics, develops analyses of the way in which turns at talk are progressively formatted, moment by moment, elaborated by participants in an incremental way sensitive to the contingencies of the interaction and, above all, reflexively adjusted to the conduct of co-participants.

Moreover, taking into account the fact that participants exploit both linguistic resources and embodied resources, I am interested in developing a multimodal, situated, temporally and sequentially organized conception of talk.

 

Multimodality and multisensoriality

Video equipment has become more and more available, facilitating the documentation of social practices and talk in interaction. This has enabled us to show how participants organize their interactions by orienting to a rich range of multimodal resources: gestures, gaze, facial expressions, head movements, body postures, and body movements. My work is characterized by a focus on the multiplicity of multimodal resources in both their indexicality and their systematicity. I am interested in the role of these resources in the organization of talk and body conduct, and more precisely in the finely tuned temporal coordination between participants' actions, both in terms of sequentiality and of simultaneity. 

Taking into account participants' bodies in their totality, I study the way in which these bodies are assembled in space, and in which they organize their mobility. This has generated a particular interest for how interactional space is constantly configured and changed through the arrangements of the participants, their mutual orientations, their gaze patterns and the coordination of their bodies. 

Taking into account multimodal resources invites us to take into consideration the manipulation of various material objects, documents and technical artefacts within interaction. This in turn highlights new possible analyses of practices such as reading or writing a text, looking at maps or images, using computers and other artifacts, within different forms of joint action and multiactivity.

Multisensoriality is another way in which to take into consideration the entire body of the participants: more recently, my research has been dealing with practices of tasting, smelling and touching, their multimodal organization and their intersubjective accomplishment. This research focus has begun within my FIDIPRO project on multimodality and has been awarded an important SNF project grant for 2018-2022. The aim is to expand multimodality into multisensoriality – and explore both the empirical and the theoretical consequences of this new challenge.

 

Workplace and institutional settings

Through a series of very fruitful fieldwork experiences, I have had the occasion to study various professional settings and to record ordinary work practices and interactions. These include medical contexts, such as surgery, anesthesiology, and psychiatry, as well as scientific labs, architects and agronomists at work, business settings such as corporate work meetings, customer oriented services, call centers and shop encounters. 

On the basis of recorded data in these settings, I have been researching the way in which team work is organized and coordinated in the midst of collective actions such as doing surgery, formulating diagnoses, making decisions, negotiating, displaying expertise, disagreeing, and coming to agreement. I also studied how service is achieved, and how asymmetries typical of institutional settings are situatedly negotiated and managed. Sequential organization, the use of multimodal resources, artefacts, technological objects, and the finely tuned coordination between concurrent actions have been explored with these data. 

Political activities and collective activities in wide groups of participants have been the focus of a long-term fieldwork of many years in the field of participatory grassroots democracy, which has been the occasion to explore issues of turn-taking in larger assemblies, and their consequences for the achievement of collective actions and decisions, as well as for the organization of participation.

The study of international work settings and institutions has also raised the question of the role of plurilingual resources in the organization of institutional and collective actions, as well as its consequences for the organization of participation.

 

Video recordings and multimodal transcripts

 

Audio- and video-recordings, as well as their subsequent transformations into usable data and into transcripts constitute the basis of my work on language and the body in social interaction. These practices are highly consequential for the ways in which we do our analyses, we demonstrate our results, and we share our findings; in this respect they do not constitute a mere technical / methodological dimension of our work but should be a topic of inquiry for the study of our scientific practices. 

I am interested in the conditions and practices of doing fieldwork, recording interactions, negotiating access, asking for authorization, digitizing data, transcribing, aligning and annotating corpora as social practices of doing research and in their historical transformations. 

Video-recordings constantly evolve thanks to new technologies and I am continuously interested in experimenting new solutions for the diversity of sites in which I do fieldwork and for securing the quality of my data.

Multimodal transcription has been a constant focus at different levels, in my practice, my conceptualization of time and multimodality, and my development of conventions for dealing with a variety of embodied conducts in social interaction.