American Sociological Association

Transparency and Embodied Action: Turn Organization and Fairness in Complex Institutional Environments

Institutional settings in which large numbers of participants have the right and in some cases the responsibility to contribute to the proceedings pose particular challenges to the order and allocation of turns. These challenges are organizational, how to enable and order participation between large numbers of people, as well as moral and political—the fair, transparent, and even distribution of access to the floor. In this paper, we address two very different institutional settings—one political and the other economic—and consider how participants are provided opportunities to contribute to the proceedings in a fair and transparent manner. Drawing on ethnomethodology and conversation analysis, we examine the systematic management of turn allocation and demonstrate how multimodality is critical to understanding how particular institutions achieve their principal aims and outcomes. This study is based on the analysis of a substantial corpus of video recordings of public consultations concerned with the discussion of major public and private sector initiatives and auctions of fine art and antiques.


Christian Heath and Lorenza Mondada





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