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The Handbook of Conversation Analysis by Tanya Stivers, Jack Sidnell

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13

 Overall Structural Organization

JEFFREY D. ROBINSON

Portland State University

Introduction

If the discipline of Conversation Analysis were a tree, the topic of overall structural organization would represent one of its first growth rings. Emanuel Schegloff commented that his initial inquiry into openings, begun at least as early as his dissertation (Schegloff, 1967), was “designed to grasp the interactional structure of one critical phase in the overall structural organization of the unit ‘a single conversation’ ” (Schegloff, 2002d: 272, emphasis added), and Harvey Sacks explicitly dedicated his lectures during the Winter of 1970 to giving “a bunch of lectures under the title ‘Overall Structural Organization of Conversation’ ” (Sacks, 1992 [1970a]: 157, emphasis added). Despite this, overall structural organization has since received relatively little analytic attention, and thus is still not well understood.

In the introduction to his book on sequence organization, Schegloff (2007b: 1) observed:

[T]urns do not follow one another like identical beads on a string. They have some organization and ‘shape’ to them. … One might say that they seem to be grouped into batches or clumps, one bunch seeming to ‘hang together’ or cohere, and then another, and another, etc.

Although Schegloff was referring to turns and their sequence organization, his analogy can be extended to base adjacency-pair sequences of action (hereafter referred to simply as ‘sequences of action’).1 That is, like ...

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