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Conversation Analysis (CA hereafter) is a method for analysing communication whose foundations lie in the work of sociologists Harvey Sacks, Emanuel Schegloff and Gail Jefferson. A CA approach offers both theory and method. Its theoretical concern is with identifying and characterising the 'machinery' (Sacks 1984: 27) underlying talk and social relations. Its methodological principles involve making and working with recordings of conversations-'details of actual occurrences'-rather than using interview methods or direct observation where researchers have 'an active and ongoing part in soliciting reports' or are present and taking notes 'as the observed activity unfolds' (Potter and Shaw 2018: 189). In CA, talk is therefore treated as the topic rather than an 'unanalysed and unexplicated methodological resource', for research (Jefferson and Lee 1980: iii). Recordings are transcribed in preparation for analysis using standard conventions developed by Jefferson (2004) that require close attention to both what was said and how it was said.

Original publication





Book title

Analysing Health Communication: Discourse Approaches

Publication Date



19 - 48