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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton January 23, 2013

Managing participation in interaction: the case of humming

  • Melisa Stevanovic

    Melisa Stevanovic is a sociologist working in the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Research on Intersubjectivity in Interaction at the University of Helsinki. In her research, she seeks to describe the specific ways in which participants construct their actions in the sequential unfolding of interaction and, thereby, negotiate the deontic, epistemic, and emotional dimensions of their social relations.

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From the journal Text & Talk

Abstract

Interactional encounters call for participants to maintain joint involvement in the activity at hand. However, when interactional problems emerge, participants may seek to redefine the current participation framework to ensure the intelligibility of the situation as a whole. This paper describes one interactional resource to accomplish such a shift: humming. Drawing on data consisting of 32 instances of humming from three different settings, and using conversation analysis as a method, I demonstrate how humming can be used to manage problems caused by the participants either failing to perform the expected actions or performing inappropriate actions. Through humming, the participants can publicly “accept” their co-participant's solitary engagements, maintain the separateness of the participants' activities, signal a need for “time-out” from the joint activity, and downgrade the interactional import of their embodied actions. Thus humming is also related to morality. On the one hand, humming signals the participants' cooperative stance despite their divided involvement. On the other hand, the mere act of making the current participation framework audible may alert the co-participants about its inadequacy.


Finnish Centre of Excellence in Research on Intersubjectivity in Interaction, PO Box 4, 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland

About the author

Melisa Stevanovic

Melisa Stevanovic is a sociologist working in the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Research on Intersubjectivity in Interaction at the University of Helsinki. In her research, she seeks to describe the specific ways in which participants construct their actions in the sequential unfolding of interaction and, thereby, negotiate the deontic, epistemic, and emotional dimensions of their social relations.

Published Online: 2013-01-23
Published in Print: 2013-01-25

©[2013] by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston

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