Everyday interaction in lesbian households: identity work, body behaviour, and action

2015-02-23T09:31:51Z (GMT) by Rowena Viney
This thesis is about the resources that speakers can draw on when producing actions, both verbal and non-vocal. It considers how identity categories, gaze and touch can contribute to action in everyday interactions. The study stemmed from an interest in how lesbian identity is made relevant by lesbian speakers in everyday co-present interaction. A corpus of approximately 23.5 hours of video-recordings was gathered: households self-designated as lesbian (including couples, families, and housemates) video recorded some of their everyday interactions (including mealtimes, watching television, and playing board games). Using the tools of Conversation Analysis and working with the video recordings and transcripts of the interactions, several ways of making a lesbian identity relevant through talk were identified. As the analysis progressed, it was found that many references to sexual identity were produced fleetingly; they were not part of or integral to the ongoing talk, and were not taken up as a topic by participants. Rather, this invoking of a participant s sexual identity appears to contribute to a particular action that is being produced. It was found that invokings of other identities, for example relating to occupation, nationality, and race, worked in a similar way, and this is explored in relation to explanations and accounts. Where the first half of the thesis focuses on verbal invokings of identity in relation to action, the second half of the thesis considers some of the non-vocal resources that participants incorporate into their actions. It was found that when launching a topic related to something in the immediate environment, speakers can use gaze to ensure recipiency. Also, when producing potentially face-threatening actions such as teases, reprimands or insults, speakers can use interpersonal touch to mitigate the threat. In addition to showing how identities can be made relevant in everyday interaction, the findings of this thesis highlight the complexity of action design, and that in co-present interaction the physical resources available to participants also need to be taken into account.