Guest blog: Sylvaine Tuncer on the “Working with video data” meeting, Stockholm

The accelerating turn to multi-modal analysis is visible in the increasing number of high-level meetings and symposia devoted to the latest in video techniques and analysis. I’m delighted that Sylvaine Tuncer, whose work is at the frontiers of sociology, CA, ethnomethodology and ethnography, has sent in this report of a recent exciting meeting in Stockholm.

Sylvaine Tuncer, Stockholm

After more than a year working and living in Stockholm, I confirm that Sweden deserves its international reputation of a lively conversation-analytic research community, comprising several strong research centres and active networks.

Nevertheless, opportunities to meet face to face beyond institutional boundaries and geographical distance are scarce. In order to take time together and talk, but also imagine the future we want to build for our field, we organized – with Barry Brown and a few other precious colleagues I want to thank – a full day event entitled “Working up – and working with – video data in EMCA, today and tomorrow” on the 4th March 2019 in Stockholm.

About fifty participants sharing an interest in research on interactions came from the main Swedish cities and research centres – Uppsala, Växjö, Goethenburg, Linköping, Södertorn, Västerås, and Stockholm. Coffee and lunch breaks were given as much space as possible to enable encounters and informal conversations.

From silence to hairdressing

Starting with the problem he recently faced to transcribe stretches of mostly silent activities, Eric Laurier shared the result of many years of reflection and experimentation on transcription methods, one of his numerous contributions to the field. He showed and discussed how to use “Animated transcripts” in presentations, combining moving images and textual descriptions of actions. 

In her presentation, Helen Melander Bowden showed several patterns ranging from students’ display of not understanding the exercise, to extensive descriptions specific requests for help to the tutor. Asta Cekaite’s talk focused mostly on head-to-head contacts between adults and children in family and school settings. The presentation brilliantly summarised years of research on touch in interactions, conveying the welcome impression of avenues ahead for yet unthought of directions in our field.

Christian Licoppe presented a study also involving Yumei Gan and Christian Greiffenhagen from the Chinese University in Hong-Kong. Many migrant workers leave their children to their parents and maintain contacts with them through video-communication. The authors show how grand-parents and parents prepare for a parent-child face-to-face encounter and how greetings are organised in the first five seconds of the call.  An impressive demonstration of the sociological consequences of interactional practices – the recognition problem – in contemporary societies.

Leelo Keevallik in front of some Lindy Hoppers

Leelo Keevallik presented a study conducted with with Anna Ekström: Lindy Hop dancing involves a set of complex and systematic embodied practices, from the couple about to enter the dance-floor, the exiting couple and other potential ones. A quantitative approach also shows that music can suggest a transition relevant point, but certainly does not determine one!

Oskar Lindwall invites the audience to learn some hairdressing skills

Finally, Oskar Lindwall based on analyses of online instructional videos, discussed the limitations of considering naturally-occurring interactions as the only data amenable to EMCA, video-based studies. In a second part, I presented results from the user study of the same project, analyzing three ways participants can use instructional videos in order to achieve the practical task at the same time.

Reflections

I think we were all impressed by the quality of presentations, and are grateful to speakers for their engagement and hard work. While each presentation provided a sound and thorough view on a specific setting or methodological issue, it was fascinating to see striking connections emerge and form a thread as the day went on. Hopefully, we all left with ideas for promising directions and ‘what future we want for our field’. For the time being, let me conclude with many thanks to all the participants for joining and enabling such an inspiring day.

Sylvaine Tuncer, PhD works in the Department of Computer & Systems Sciences, Stockholm University. Her email address is sylvaine@dsv.su.se

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