Using Video for a Sequential and Multimodal Analysis of Social Interaction: Videotaping Institutional Telephone Calls

Lorenza Mondada


The paper aims at demonstrating some analytical potentialities of video data for the study of social interaction. It is based on video recordings of situated activities in their ordinary settings—producing "naturally occurring data" within a naturalistic perspective developed by Harvey SACKS and subsequent research within ethnomethodology, conversation analysis, interactional linguistics and workplace studies. Analysis focuses on a particular kind of video recording, produced during fieldwork in call centers: it shows the payoffs of videotaping telephone calls in professional and institutional contexts. In the previous literature, phone calls have been treated as a case in which audio recordings were adequate for the resources mutually available to the participants themselves. Video documentation of phone calls in work settings shows that they involve, on the part of professional operators, more than talk at work or than talk as work: they make it possible to observe the complex work activities running simultaneously with the call and in the service of the call, i.e. the multi-activity the call taker is engaged in. In this paper, I analyze temporal and structural features of professional multi-activity in three sequential positions: in pre-beginnings, during the call while Internet searches are initiated, and in post-closings. These positions show the finely tuned coordination between the call and the other activities of the operator, as well as the continuity between the call, subsequent calls in a series and the continuous flow of work in the call center.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0803390


conversation analysis; video; telephone calls; sequentiality; multimodality; multi-activity; pre-beginnings; post-closings

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Copyright (c) 2008 Lorenza Mondada

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