Civil Inattention in Public Places: Normalising Unusual Events through Mobile and Embodied Practices


  • Pentti Haddington University of Helsinki
  • Sami Frogell
  • Anna Grubert
  • Heidi Huhta
  • Pauli Jussila
  • Juha Kinnunen
  • Antti Korpela
  • Minna Lehto
  • Anna Marin
  • Juho Mäenpää
  • Lasse Mäkivuoti
  • Henna Raappana
  • Joonas Råman
  • Jaakko Saarela
  • Annariina Seppänen
  • Ilkka Suhonen
  • Johanna Vanhatapio
  • Lasse Vesisenaho



mobility, immobility, place, space, walking, multimodal interaction analysis, gaze, gesture, the body


This article builds on GOFFMAN's work to study how pedestrians display their orientation to unusual events in public places. It focuses on the mobile and embodied conduct of those passing a smartmob event in which a performing group "froze" in a busy transit hub for four minutes. The data comprise audio-video recordings of the event. We identify and analyse routinised mobile and embodied practices by which passers-by "normalise" the unusual event. These include different organisations of body behaviour and the ways in which passers-by walk around and between the performers as individuals and groups. The findings are supported with illustrations.



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Author Biography

Pentti Haddington, University of Helsinki

Pentti HADDINGTON is an interaction analyst and a linguist. He is a research fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki, Finland and a university lecturer in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Oulu. He uses conversation analysis to study the social organisation of verbal and embodied interaction in diverse everyday and institutional settings. He has recently studied multimodal features of social interaction in cars and co-edited a book on interaction and mobility. He has published about twenty peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. In spring 2010, he taught a course on "Language and the Body" at the University of Oulu. This article is a result of his collaboration with the students in that course.




How to Cite

Haddington, P., Frogell, S., Grubert, A., Huhta, H., Jussila, P., Kinnunen, J., … Vesisenaho, L. (2012). Civil Inattention in Public Places: Normalising Unusual Events through Mobile and Embodied Practices. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 13(3).