Mutual gaze and recognition

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In “Some functions of gaze direction in two-person conversation,” Adam Kendon provided the first systematic account of the organization of gaze in conversational interaction, arguing that here gaze behavior serves the regulation of speaker- and listenership. Recently, Rossano (2012) has argued that gaze direction, instead, operates in the context of action sequences and varies by action type. This chapter describes the gaze behavior of a single person in interactions with a variety of others. The focus is on a routine gaze sequence, consonant with Rossano’s account, whose initiator establishes transitory or sustained gaze with the recipient during the initial action, and both parties withdraw gaze from one another during sequence completion. Arguably this patterns shows that mutual gaze can serve as a minimal form of social contract by which acts are ratified as intersubjective facts.


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