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

  • Lorenza Mondada University of Lyon 2
Keywords: conversation analysis, video, telephone calls, sequentiality, multimodality, multi-activity, pre-beginnings, post-closings


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


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Author Biography

Lorenza Mondada, University of Lyon 2
Lorenza MONDADA, ICAR research lab (CNRS & University of Lyon). Lorenza MONDADA is Professor at the Department for Linguistics, University of Lyon 2, and Director of the ICAR research Lab (CNRS). Her research deals with the organization of grammatical and multimodal practices in interaction. Current research is carried out on video-recordings from various institutional and professional settings, and on ordinary conversations, focusing on the ways in which participants sequentially and multimodally organize their (often multiple) courses of action. Recent publications include: (2003). Working with Video, Visual Studies, 18(1), 58-72; (2004). Ways of doing: "'Being plurilingual'' in international work meetings. In Rod Gardner & Johannes Wagner (Eds.), Second language conversations. London: Continuum; (2007). Multimodal resources for turn-taking: Pointing and the emergence of possible next speakers. Discourse Studies, 9(2), 195-226; (2007). Operating together through videoconference. In Steve Hester & Dave Francis (Eds.), Orders of ordinary action (pp. 51-67). London: Aldershot; (2007). Bilingualism and the analysis of talk at work. In Monica Heller (Ed.). Bilingualism (pp.297-318), New York: Palgrave.
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