Asymmetry and adaptation in social interaction: A micro-analytic perspective
  • ISSN 1572-0373
  • E-ISSN: 1572-0381
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Withholding and pursuit are well-documented phenomena in talk between adults and in talk with children. They have been described as working to perform various functions that emerge locally between speakers in a variety of interactional contexts both in ordinary conversation and in institutional talk.In this paper I explore further the actions of pursuit and withholding in interaction between parents and their very young children, first described in Filipi (2003, 2009) by going beyond description and by examining how these features might be implicated in learning. Longitudinal change is thus a focus of the analysis. Examples of talk are drawn from one child aged from 11 to 24 months interacting with members of her family.Applying the microanalytic approach of Conversation Analysis, the study reports four contexts in which pursuit emerges as an important resource. They are pursuit relevant to sequence structure, linguistic pursuit, pursuit of understanding and pursuit of a particular response token. Analysis shows that while the adults orient to the need to move the action forward, particularly observable in the Summons/Response adjacency pair, withholding of completion can occur at any time in order for parent and child to work on particular skills. Finally, I argue that the micro details of the actions of withholding and pursuit provide a particularly useful lens with which to observe the dynamic qualities of asymmetry. Keywords: parent child interaction; Conversation Analysis; language development; asymmetry; withholding; pursuit


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  • Article Type: Research Article

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