Category Archives: Guest Blogs

Guest blog: Jack Joyce on Loughborough’s “Resistance Day”

The community of interactional researchers in Loughborough’s Discourse and Rhetoric Group occasionally put on an informal themed day of presentations and data sessions. In September this year the theme was “Resistance”, meant to encompass all kinds of practices. Doctoral student Jack Joyce takes up the story.

Jack Joyce, Loughborough DARG

On 13 September 2017, the first ‘Resistance in Talk-in-Interaction’ seminar day was hosted at Loughborough University as a joint-DARG event, funded by the Loughborough Doctoral College.

The one-day seminar, organised by Bogdana Huma, Claire Feeney and I came about after we noticed that we were all looking at a similar theme in our data; resistance. The day was originally planned as an internal ‘get-together’ to talk about resistance in DARG, but we attracted interest from farther afield so we decided to arrange something a little more formal but with an informal ethos. The aim of the seminar; come up with some kind of definition for ‘resistance’.

The day featured a number of data sessions which demonstrated the breadth and depth of work being done on Resistance-in-interaction, delegates had the opportunity to receive, and provide their own analytic contributions towards data across a range of institutional contexts. These contexts were often challenging to hear/see such as, people resisting help in suicide crisis negotiations (Rein Ove Sikveland), or the strategies people with profound intellectual disabilities are able to employ to resist being cajoled (Charles Antaki). Each session posing the question: in this interactional context, what does resistance look like?

Sue Widdicombe, Edinburgh University

Categories for living

The seminar was well-rounded with invited speaker Sue Widdicombe from the University of Edinburgh giving an insightful talk on how categories are ascribed in conditions of multiple identities. We were all excited to be shown some seemingly ‘lost’ data from her ground-breaking studies on subcultures (see: Widdicombe, 1995). In her talk, Sue shared her analysis of question-answer sequences in interviews about nationality and religion with men and women in Lebanon and Syria.

Using various Conversation Analytic approaches, she identified four patterns of modifying or resisting categories: (1) accounting for the upcoming talk, (2) invoking a contrasting category to modify a membership claim, (3) through nominating an alternate, often more general, category, (4) denial of a previously relevant category. After her talk, we jumped straight into a data session to see these patterns in action through analysing Jeremy Corbyn doing resisting being described as ‘middle class’.

The day also featured work from other researchers; Bogdana Huma on the ways call-takers resist prospecting ‘cold’ callers, Marion West presented data on how, in supervisions, undergraduates may resist advice, Emily Hofstetter (and Liz Stokoe) showed us an example of office health and safety inspections can be a site for subtle resistance, and how of institutional failure can be invoked to resist an institutionally-mandated change; and Jack Joyce concluded the day with some data of an extreme case of resistance, showing one way medical patients can resist treatment recommendations (by simply getting up and walking out).

More resistance next year?

In planning Resistance Day we purposefully avoided widely advertising the event, treating the day as a test event to talk about our interests, and more generally, to see if other people were interested in resistance. The answer was a resounding yes, the day was fully booked and a few people missed out on places. So, we are in the process of planning a second, larger event some time in 2018 so if you’d like to be informed of any announcements keep an eye on EMCA Wiki, or contact Jack ( to be added to the mailing list.

If you want to learn more about the conference, you can search #DARGresistance on Twitter or find the Twitter moment here.


Guest blogs: Reflections on IPrA 2017, Belfast (part 2)

In this, the second report on the busy International Pragmatics Association conference, we have the reflections of the organiser, Catrin Rhys, intercontinental visitor Chase Raymond, and Twitter follower Saul Albert.

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Catrin Rhys, University of Ulster

The organiser’s view: Catrin Rhys #IPrA2017

Hosting IPrA begins with creating the bid and an appropriate theme and ends, after everyone has left, with report writing for the local sponsors. In between is a three-year rollercoaster with periods of intense busy-ness and quiet periods where you wake up in the middle of the night panicking that you’ve forgotten something.

Conference organising on this scale certainly takes you out of the normal routine of academic life. From site visits in hard hats, to being treated like royalty at a formal food tasting, we were temporarily “valued clients” generating significant income for the local economy. It was satisfying, in that context, to be able to choose a local cooperative and a social enterprise as suppliers.

What I hadn’t expected was how much time I would spend agonising over mundane details like numbers of bottles of wine/beer and ratios of red wine versus white wine for the reception. Thanks to the generosity of the publishers John Benjamins, I could overestimate and we introduced a great new tradition of the closing drinks reception!

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Candy and Chuck Goodwin, flanked by volunteers Carol Stitt-Richie and Chen Chi

Academically, I was very excited at the prospect of hosting IPrA. In my naïveté, I envisaged getting to influence the programme so that I could enjoy a week of fabulous CA sessions. It almost worked! We had brilliant CA plenaries who took the conference theme seriously and were generous in their communication of CA research to the wider IPrA community. The programme overall offered an embarrassment of CA riches – so much so that I couldn’t avoid serious clashes in the scheduling.  And it was such a pleasure to see my home town full of CA folk. What I hadn’t counted on was how little of the conference I would actually get to myself and how distracted I would be when I did. It was wonderful, though, to see my phd students getting the chance to become part of the academic community and engage in a bit of academic fandom.

Overall, I can honestly say that hosting IPrA was a wonderful experience. So watch this space for the next Belfast CA conference!

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Conference dinner. Photo: Adrian Kerrison

Anthropologist Bill Beeman serenading conference-goers with ‘Danny Boy’  in a mock-up of the Titanic’s first-class dining room.

[Editor’s note: If you look carefully at the photo, you can just make out Catrin performing an unexpected act of heroism – crouching below the piano to hold up the music stand for the length of the recital]


The intercontinental traveller: Chase Raymond @ChaseWRaymond

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Chase Raymond, University of Colorado

This year’s meeting was an all-around stellar experience. Notwithstanding some initial AV problems at the conference venue, the talks I had the pleasure of attending were truly amazing.  A few highlights included Paul Drew and Kobin Kendrick’s panel on recruitments, which showcased a range of new projects making use of that conceptual umbrella; Ed Reynolds and Jessica Robles’s panel on emotion in interaction, with each paper further underscoring just how systematic and action-oriented displays of emotions are; Charles Antaki’s panel on entry and re-entry into interaction, which included data from a variety of contexts and participants; and several great panels on applications of CA to institutional contexts, most notably one on end-of-life conversations, organized by Marco Pino and Ruth Parry.

Quantity and quality

Overall, I was personally struck by both the quality and quantity of CA scholars and scholarship at this year’s meeting. At the last IPrA in 2015 in Antwerp, I felt as though conversation analysts were ‘guests’ at the Pragmatics party, so to speak; whereas at this year’s conference, I felt that our presence was significantly more central. This was clearly evidenced by well-attended ‘interface’ panels in which CA was brought to bear on classic debates in Pragmatics—for instance, Rebecca Clift and Liz Holt’s panel on the “Pragmatics-CA Interface”, and Lucas Seuren and Traci Walker’s panel on form and function. In addition, though, it cannot go without mention that CA was very strongly represented at the conference-wide level as well: Four of the six plenary speakers have published work in CA (even if that wasn’t what they all focused on in their plenaries), and Sandy Thompson was awarded the Association’s very first John J. Gumperz Lifetime Achievement Award. In sum, then, this year’s meeting has cemented IPrA as one of my ‘go-to’ conferences (alongside ICCA) for high-quality CA.

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John Heritage’s Plenary on medical interaction (Photo: Natalie Flint)

The Belfast Telegraph wrote that the conference was expected to bring £2.5 million to the city over its six-day run, and so it’s safe to say that organizing this event was no easy task. My thanks to the organizing committee, especially its chair, Catrin Rhys, for making this event a spectacular success, and I eagerly await the 2019 meeting in Hong Kong.

The Tweeter: Saul Albert @saul


Dr. Saul Albert, Tufts University

I wasn’t able to attend the conference, but I followed it surprisingly successfully from 1,000 miles away in Boston.

I’ve been on twitter so long that I remember when all this was only a few fields (mostly computer science, HCI and electronic engineering). It’s taken a few years for the #EMCA community of language and interaction nerds to catch up, and the hashtag #IPrA2017 marked the first year it became possible to follow almost every panel and session from the comfort of your nearest screen.

Following the #IPRA2017 twitter feed gave me the omniscient feeling of being able to monitor multiple simultaneous panels, and there was some comfort in knowing that since there were 22 parallel sessions this year, local attendees were missing out on almost as many talks as us tweeps! The other great advantage of having so many IPrA tweeters is that there’s now an archive of memorable quotes, comments, questions, and other ephemera that might otherwise have been exchanged privately and forgotten between coffee breaks.

Since I happened to be evaluating social media monitoring services for a project, I also had the opportunity to look at some metrics courtesy of Talkwalker, a social data intelligence company.

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Historically, tweets by IPrA delegates between #IPrA2007 (the first conference after the twitter platform was launched) and #IPrA2013 can be counted on the fingers of one hand, so there’s not much to compare with there. The first strong showing was in 2015, when Martin Siefkes collected the 1200-odd tweets sent to the #IPrA2015 hashtag between days 1-3 and days 4-6. However, the twitter conference saturation threshold (when the number of tweets exceeds the number of delegates) was crossed for the first time this year with over 3000 tweets using the #IPrA2017 tag in July alone.

What did #IPrA2017 tweeters also tweet about?

A list of the most often co-occuring hashtags with #IPrA2017 shows a mix of the conferences’ key themes of linguistics, pragmatics and, of course #EMCA, along with references to plenary talks and speakers such as @LizStokoe’s #CARM and @wordspinster Debbie #Cameron. One of the biggest pragmatics-related news items of the year – Deborah Tannen’s take on the #ComeyHearing and attendant #TrumpRussia stories – also get a strong mention, as does @BarbaraDeCock’s analysis of #jesuis and #JeSuisCharlie hashtag use in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.

However, a keyword cloud of the most common hashtags and usernames using #IPrA2017, cross-referenced with the most likes/retweets seems surprisingly #EMCA flavored. Perhaps this confirms my biased view that the #EMCA sub-community is particularly engaged and engaging on twitter!

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Most common names and tags in IPrA tweets

The leading ‘social influencers’ in terms of their reach, post-frequency and levels of engagement from other twitters have a similarly healthy leaning towards #EMCA – and the top three clearly reveal a disproportionate source (in terms of the researcher’s base or training) in Loughborough University: @JoMeredith82 (now at Salford), @rolsi_journal (Charles Antaki),  and @DoctoJRo (Jessica Robles).

Finally, some gross demographics: 73.2% of people using the #IPrA2017 hashtag identify on twitter as female whereas 26.8% identify as male, mean age early 30s, mostly distributed between 25 and 44. The career and geographical breakdowns that mostly teachers and students are tweeting about #IPrA2017, mostly from Belfast and N. America –  which intuitively makes sense, given academic career structures and the location of the conference and related research centres.

Given that so many tweeters from this year’s IPrA are also #EMCA aficionados associated with the East Midlands, it seems likely that #ICCA2018 in Loughborough is going to be the next big hashtag.


Guest blogs: Reflections on IPrA 2017, Belfast (Part 1)

IPrA opning sot.pngEvery two years the International Pragmatics Association (IPrA) holds a huge conference – this year some 1,300 people gathered in Belfast, Northern Ireland, for a jamboree of language scholarship. As ever, it was a bazaar of wonders, from historical pragmatics through to eye-tracking experiments, with everything in between, in dozens  of languages. Conversation Analysis was well represented; I asked a number of colleagues to send their reflections, and in this, the first of two Guest Blogs, Liz Stokoe, Melisa Stevanovic and Marina Cantarutti tell us what it was like for them.

The Plenarist: Liz Stokoe

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Professor Liz Stokoe, Loughborough University

Being asked to give a plenary at IPRA is an honour. In a line-up for Belfast 2017 that included Deborah Cameron and John Heritage, it was a bucket-list invitation for me. It was particularly lovely to be asked for 2017, twenty years after getting my PhD and so being halfway through my academic career. Saying ‘yes’ to the invitation was the easy part.

Planning the talk was trickier, however. On the one hand, I knew that a good proportion of the IPRA audience would be hardcore experts in my field – in my case, conversation analysis. On the other, I also knew that the majority of the audience would be expert in another area of language, linguistics, and pragmatics. And given that I spend a good deal of my time these days speaking at events in which audience members are experts in something else entirely – surgery, aviation, sales, the law – I was probably more anxious than usual!

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I designed my plenary around a theme: what we can learn from the first ten seconds of interaction. This enabled me to showcase a range of studies from my early PhD work on student tutorials through other settings I’ve studied, and how different the first ten seconds are when people call a familiar organization (e.g., the doctor, a travel agent) compared to calling an unknown service (e.g., mediation). I showed the differences between the openings of real and simulated encounters. And I ended with why the first ten seconds are crucial in the openings of high stakes conversations.

The room filled up on Wednesday morning for the 8.30 slot. Given that I am not an early morning person, I was glad so many delegates appeared to be. The room was vast. The IPRA audience was not the biggest I’ve spoken to, but it was the only one where I was trapped behind the podium (the venue had no lapel microphones, unbelievably…) with no real sense of whether anyone could hear me. So it was very calming to be introduced by my long term collaborator and good friend, Bethan Benwell.

How did it go?

Did I manage to engage the audience about the importance of the first ten seconds? I’ll let Twitter answer:

  • “The only thing getting me out of bed on an early rainy Wednesday morning. Worth it for the @LizStokoe plenary. #IPrA2017” (Claire Melia)
  • “Great demonstration of how to do #PublicLinguistics #IPrA2017 Loved the visuals too! @LizStokoe” (Zsófia Demjén)
  • “Will be interesting to see how #IPrA2017 attendants will start coffee break conversations next few days, having heard @LizStokoe :-)” (Barbara De Cock)
  • “The openings of simulations looks nothing like the opening of real police interviews. Use real data for training. @LizStokoe #emca #IPrA2017” (Edward Reynolds)
  • “#IPrA2017 Liz Stokoe: How do you spend the day (not) giving bad news? When students phone, don’t ask them to tell you their grades #clearing” (So Reissner-Roubicek)
  • “Stokoe notes the problem for mediation services is people don’t know what they’re for, & demonstrates through 1st 10 secs of call #IPrA2017” (Jo Meredith)

The established young academic: Melisa Stevanovic @MelisaStevanovi

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Dr Melisa Stevanovic, Helsinki University

The conference in Belfast was my fourth IPrA. I realized that the bit-by-bit accumulation of IPrA experiences has finally started to pay back: many things felt easier. Unlike during my first IPrA, when I did not know many CA people, it was now relatively easy to spot the interactionally relevant papers from the program merely on the basis of the names of the presenters. And in the instances of the conference program being forgotten in the hotel room or in the depths of the backbag, I could find my way to the most relevant talks by simply following the crowd of those CA people that I, by now, know. As a result, my occasional visits outside the CA bubble felt like refreshing expeditions, since these were chosen voluntarily and not merely on the basis of deceptive presentation titles. Indeed, during some of these excursions, I managed to come across with wonderful talks that I think would have been of interest also to the wider CA audience.

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Sally Wiggins (Linköping University) on a discursive psychology of food assessment

Not just CA

But there was quite a lot of fresh air inside the CA bubble, too. Here I am not thinking that much about the diversity of the interactional phenomena, topics, or settings that CA folks investigate but more about all the different types of CA arguments presented at the conference. Besides the data-centered accounts of interactional practices, there were papers aiming to develop the conceptual side of CA, presentations exploring the interface between CA and other disciplines, studies that used CA as a theoretical basis for conducting research using other methods, and heart-warming unorthodox arguments, which were linked to the CA tradition but not really to the method as such. Being able to experience the happy co-existence of all these genres side-by-side was memorable, and I consider it also promising for the future of CA.

The postgraduate student: Marina N. Cantarutti @pronbites

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Marina Cantarutti, University of York

As a first year PhD student doing Interactional Linguistics, IPrA 2017 has been like finding a pot of gold. This conference has been a great opportunity to see current research and enlarge my reference list, to meet and greet the people whose papers and books I have devoured, and to have heartwarming reunions with other PhD students and past mentors.

IPrA is, indeed, an intensive and massive conference, so navigating the programme and making selections has proven to be a challenge. I have found myself caught in the dilemma between watching talks by the “big names” irrespective of topic, or selecting presentations relevant to my research by people whose name I had never come across before. I also experienced a couple of moments of excitement (and I admit, a little bit of discouragement) when I saw some of what I had deludedly thought were my own “discoveries” appear so neatly explained on someone else’s slides, but then I took it upon myself to make the most of after-presentation talks and tweets to pave the way for further discussion on shared interests, and perhaps consider future collaborations.

No pressure – this time

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A slide from Elizabeth Couper-Kuhlen and Sandy Thompson’s magisterial talk on grammar and deonticity

It has also been inspiring to see early-career academics show how they are ahead of their game in questioning well-established beliefs, advancing CA-IL theory, and finding new niches. I obviously could not help feeling great pride in seeing my own University of York colleagues and supervisors make high-quality presentations. And yes, I did get a bit bitter about not having dared to present a poster, but on the other hand, there is great value in enjoying such a huge conference pressure-free!


All in all, I am truly grateful for the devoted organisation, the thought-provoking research, and the stimulating coffee/lunch talks. As a student who is but only starting to share in this ever-growing CA-IL academic community,  I have felt welcomed by the passion, collegiality, and professionalism I have found  in my second ever IPrA conference.

Another IPrA 2017 blog will be along soon.

For reports on IPrA 2015, Antwerp, see here and here.

Guest blog: The Cardiff EM/CA doctoral student meeting

Every year a UK university hosts a meeting for doctoral students working in the fields of ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis. This year it was held at Cardiff University. Jack Joyce and Linda Walz have sent in a lively and inclusive report, and Louise White has kindly contributed a warm personal reflection. 

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The 7th biannual EMCA Doctoral Network event was hosted at Cardiff University. It continued the tradition of providing the opportunity for PhD students to explore the various ways with which EMCA is employed around the UK and give us all a glimpse of EMCA research outside of our own departments.

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Guest blog: Behind the scenes at the Helsinki Intersubjectivity Conference

Helsinki’s Centre of Excellence for Intersubjectivity in Interaction has over its short history become an international powerhouse of interaction research. A celebratory conference was held in May, and I’m delighted that two of the Centre’s key personnel Taru Auranne and Taina Valkeapää, agreed to reflect on how it all went.

Taru Auranne

Taina Valkeapää

The conference “Intersubjectivity in Action” (IIA) was organized in the hesitant spring of Finland on May 11-13, 2017. It celebrated the final year of the Centre of Excellence in Intersubjectivity in Interaction, which has been running at the University of Helsinki since 2012.

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Guest Blog: A celebration of Candy and Charles Goodwin’s life and work

Charles and Marjorie Harness Goodwin (affectionately known as Chuck and Candy respectively) have a special place in the top rank of pioneers of interaction studies. Their scholarship, enterprise and enthusiasm has inspired many generations of young researchers. I’m delighted that Elliott Hoey and Don Everhart agreed to report on an event held to commemorate the Goodwins’ achievements.

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Guest blog: Wendy Archer on collecting data in very sensitive environments

When interactional researchers step out into the medical world to collect data, they might be recording people in discomfort, pain or distress. As well as the researchers’ own conscience and ethics,  institutional and legal rules should ensure that dignity and propriety are respected. Wendy Archer gives a personal and topical account of her own work in the very sensitive environment of end-of-life care.

Wendy Archer, Nottingham University

Wendy Archer, Nottingham University

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