Part of SAGE’s Mastering Business Research Methods Series, conceived and edited by Bill Lee, Mark N. K. Saunders and Vadake K. Narayanan and designed to support researchers by providing in-depth and practical guidance on using a chosen method of data collection or analysis. In Using Conversation Analysis, David Greatbatch and Timothy Clark introduce the key elements of conversation analysis, an increasingly prominent form of business research analysis, which involves analysing audio and visual recordings of naturally occurring talk-in-interaction such as television speeches and interview exchanges, to see how meanings are constructed. Ideal for Business and Management students reading for a Master’s degree, each book in the series may also serve as reference books for doctoral students and faculty members interested in the method. Watch the editors introduce the Mastering Business Research Methods series and tell you more about the first three books.

Understanding Conversation Analysis

In this chapter we explore CA’s theoretical roots and outline its core theoretical assumptions. It is important that you understand these in order to:

  • Decide whether CA fits with your research interests
  • Ensure that CA’s theoretical stance is consistent with your own perspective
  • Ensure that, if you use CA, your analysis is consistent with the expectations of the intellectual community, including practising conversation analysts.

We will begin by explaining how the work of the sociologists Erving Goffman and Harold Garfinkel influenced the development of CA. We will then turn to consider the role of theorising in CA before outlining the key theoretical assumptions on which CA research is based.

Theoretical Background

CA emerged in the late 1960s in an intellectual context shaped by the perspectives developed by ...

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