conversation analysis

Conversation Analysis (CA) at UCSB has strong interdisciplinary ties, an international reputation, a distinct formal methodology and subject matter (the organization of human conduct at the point of its production) and a methodology suited to sociological concerns. Although this area is known as conversation analysis, its subject matter is broader than conversation in encompassing the organization of language and the body in the production of social actions. Thus, it contributes to work in many areas of sociology along with making fundamental contributions to social theory. The body of careful research on basic processes of interaction produced by research in the field, including prominent researchers at UCSB, provides leverage for an illuminating examination of a wide range of topics addressed by sociologists and other social scientists – those in this department as well as in the field more generally. The growing understanding of how interaction works has furnished a basis for studying medical encounters and contributed to an understanding of the public health problem of the over prescription of antibiotic drugs, classroom interaction and how bilingual students master a second language, service interactions, (including emergency calls to the police), television news and entertainment interviews, presidential press conferences (which has provided a systematic basis for documenting social and historical change in the relationship between president and the press), business meetings, police interrogations, courtroom examinations, jury deliberations, parent-teacher conferences, playground interactions, and peer interactions among very young children. It has also been used to expose how normative heterosexuality, encoded as categorical knowledge of kinship, is deployed as a resource for accomplishing mundane medical interactions and for producing interactional trouble when those kinship relationships are non-normative. The latter research illustrates one of the ways in which the study of culture can be pursued by the close examination of the organization of mundane interaction.

Participating Faculty:

Geoffrey Raymond

Gene Lerner-Professor Emeritus

Kevin Whitehead

Relevant Links:

UCSB Language, Interaction, and Social Organization Ph.D. Interdisciplinary Emphasis and Research Focus Group

Ethno/CA News-Information on Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis

ASA Section on Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis

American Association for Applied Linguistics

Sandra A. Thompson's Bibliography of research on interaction, grammar, and prosody

Mary Bucholtz's Sociocultural Linguistics Website

Mary Bucholtz's Language and Gender website

Social Movements

For 30 years, the Sociology Department at UCSB has been at the forefront of research and graduate training in social movements and collective action. Richard Flacks’ foundational work on student, New Left, and labor movements established the department as a magnet for scholars and students interested in social movements and political protest.


The Interdisciplinary Ph.D. emphasis in Language, Interaction and Social Organization (LISO) was developed through the leadership of CA faculty. LISO hosts an annual conference on “Language, Interaction and Culture” (now in its 16th year) in cooperation with a similar group at UCLA that attracts scholars from across the country and around the world.

Also, the new Interaction Analysis Lab in the Department of Sociology furnishes LISO faculty and graduate students with a setting and equipment for the analysis of field recordings and houses the digial video archives of the Very Young Children Project.