The Effects of Video Recording on Office Workers' Conduct, and the Validity of Video Data for the Study of Naturally-Occurring Interactions

Sylvaine Tuncer


This article starts from the observation that social scientists using video to study naturally-occurring interactions are often questioned about the reliability of their data, by wider audiences, but also by scholars who raised concerns early on about how the recording device would modify the participants' conduct. The study uses 47 video extracts in which workers filmed in their offices orient to the recording, analyzed from a conversation analysis perspective. I show that these sequences occur in two distinct sequential environments, corresponding to distinct sets of accomplishments. During the openings of encounters participants often discuss the meaning and features of the recording, and close the topic as they reach a form of agreement. I outline a pattern for such sequences. During the course of an encounter, they often use the recording not only as a resource to produce laughter in general, but also to achieve locally and sequentially relevant actions, such as closing a complaint or assessing an activity. By exposing the methods whereby participants "domesticate" the recording, I argue that while the recording is a specific circumstance that participants are aware of, and which requires some negotiations, which in turn may change their interactions, it nonetheless provides rich analytic material. The implications of the study are ethical, since they display participants' expectations regarding informed consent, and how they continuously achieve it in their interactions as an iterative process; they are also analytical, since I unpack a diversity of ways participants use the camera as a particular interactional resource to achieve commonplace interactional projects at work.



encounters in offices; conversation analysis; embodied interactions; orientations to the cameras; iterative production of informed consent; jokes; moral assessments

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Copyright (c) 2016 Sylvaine Tuncer

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