Conversation Analysis and Mother-baby Interaction
Sociology University of Helsinki Helsinki, Finland
The presentation is about Conversation Analysis and interaction between 4-6 months old babies and their caretakers. In my masters thesis and in my subsequent research work aiming at doctoral dissertation I have studied the relations between adjacent expressions in mother-baby interaction, trying to find out what it is, that makes adjacent expressions seem related to each others. I have emphasized that similarities and marked dissimilarities make adjacent expressions seem related to each others, as do continuities (in pitch level, for instance) from the previous turn to the next. In my written work I have tried to show this with, besides rather traditional CA transcriptions, slow-motion video clips that have been attached to the text files.
My findings so far can be discussed quite intelligibly in relation to discussions about prosodic orientation in adult interaction (Szczepek-Reed 2006), since there clearly are similarities between the phenomena, and they may possibly contribute to the understandings of the role of emotions in adult interaction, in the future. In that case, studying mother-baby interaction with qualitative methods will contribute to our understandings of adult conversation.
But could the analysis be taken even further? Can some turns in mother-baby interaction be considered to be initiating, and others responsive? While in some cases it seems sensible to describe a particular turn as initiating (when it is different from the previous turn and comes after a pause), defining what makes a turn responsive seems a bit more difficult. Can turns that don't seem initiating be classified based on what kinds of actions they do in relation to the turns previous to them? Do particular kinds of initiating turns invite particular kinds of responsive turns? Is the kind of approach indicated in these questions possible, at all?
All of these issues will be discussed, and examples from baby-caretaker data corpus will be shown.