Face-to-Face Interaction: Research, Methods, and Theory

Face-to-Face Interaction: Research, Methods, and Theory

Face-to-Face Interaction: Research, Methods, and Theory

Face-to-Face Interaction: Research, Methods, and Theory

Excerpt

The understanding of face-to-face interaction is central to the conceptualization and study of human social conduct. A major focus of the book is on how to do research on this topic. How can that research be sound and replicable? To learn about interactions, what is the necessary level of analysis? What methods of data collection and analysis make most effective use of information available in interactions?

A second major focus is on a model for conceptualizing face-to-face interaction. This model draws its components from several social sciences, especially linguistics. Its basic idea is that face-to-face interaction can be construed as having a definite organization or structure, just as language is understood in terms of its grammar. Within that organization, the participant has options that he can exercise, including the option of violating aspects of the organization. A pattern of option choices may be described in terms of the participant's strategy within observed interactions. Some tasks for research are discovery of the elements of this organization and development of adequate ways of describing the organization as a whole.

Much has been written for professional and popular audiences about interpersonal interactions and about specific actions that occur in these encounters. These have included both insightful commentaries based upon general observations and investigations of single behaviors. What this book proposes is a general conceptual framework for guiding empirical investigation. In particular, emphasis is placed on the simultaneous study of a number of acts, searching for the locus of each act within a context of other acts in contiguity to it.

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