Saturday, July 13, 2019

2019 EMCA Distinguished Book Award

The committee for the 2019 EMCA Distinguished Book Award, consisting of Jason Turowetz, Donald Everhart, and Waverly Duck, has unanimously selected Charles Goodwin as this year’s recipient for his book, Cooperative Action (Cambridge University Press, 2017). The committee chose Dr. Goodwin’s book for its outstanding contributions to the field of ethnomethodology and conversation analysis. The book represents the culmination of the late Dr. Goodwin’s decades-long scholarship in EMCA, applied linguistics, and anthropology, and ties together all of his work, from his earliest research on collaborative sentence construction and argumentation to his pathbreaking studies of interaction and disability, professional vision, embodied and multimodal action, and archaeological practice. 

At the center of the book is Goodwin’s argument that cooperative action is the cornerstone of human culture and social order, providing “in the midst of action itself, a systematic mechanism for progressive accumulation with modification from all scales, from chains of local utterances, through tools, to the unfolding differentiation through time of human social groups” (2017:1). Drawing on materials from a range of fields, including evolutionary biology, anthropology, sociology, archaeology, linguistics, and psychology, Goodwin addresses big questions that cut across disciplinary boundaries as he makes the case for an interaction-centered theory of human society. In particular, he shows how actors build courses of action by using and modifying resources created in previous interactions, and how local actions are implicated in the continual making and remaking of culture. His book puts EMCA in dialogue with scholars in the social and natural sciences, articulating a “general mechanism…for both accumulation and incremental change, one lodged within the interstices of mundane action itself” (2017:7) and challenging popular alternatives that reduce social behavior to psychological and/or biological processes. 

Goodwin’s impressive book will no doubt serve as a resource and inspiration for current and future generations of EMCA scholars.

2019 EMCA Graduate Student Paper Award

Congratulations to Alexandra Tate on the award for best student paper for her “Treatment Recommendations in Oncology Visits: Implications for Patient Agency and Physician Authority,” published in Health Communication, 2018.

This study provides an exemplar of medical CA at its best; it provides new insights into how doctor-patient interaction varies across stages of the oncology encounter. The crucial question asked by Tate is how physician-oncologist and patient negotiate decision making for treatment and, in particular, how physicians assert their authority — and balance it with an orientation to the patient’s agency — in oncology regarding treatment. Making use of Stivers’ typologies for primary care treatment recommendations, Tate found that while oncologists’ proposals were most common in the initial stage of oncologist/patient interaction, when the oncologist needed the patient to buy into a certain treatment, during other stages (mid-course treatment and ancillary treatments) pronouncements were made. Differentiated forms of verbal action are accounted for with respect to the trajectory of the voyage of cancer treatment. A deviant case provides insight into the importance of the relationship of doctor and patient regarding how negotiation proceeds; when a relationship is new midcourse of treatment, then the oncologist must work to gain the acceptance of the client, and will not make pronouncements. The careful design of the study permitted such nuanced understandings of changes in doctor/patient medical encounters across time within a context in medical conversation analysis (oncology) which has received less attention than primary care.

There are important policy implications for medical care which result from this study. In the US physicians initially seek patients’ acceptance of treatment, and therefore want the patient’s input. However, having obtained their signing onto cancer treatments, physicians in the mid course context view patient agency as having been somewhat transferred to them. Participants then have little opportunity to consider alternative therapies, stop treatment or shift to palliative or supportive care. The paper makes important points in showing how this happens and, implicitly, in providing for opportunities to medical staff to become aware of opportunities to enhance the patient’s participation.

Marjorie Goodwin, Lorenza Mondada and Anssi Peräkylä

2019 Garfinkel-Sacks Award for Distinguished Scholarship

The award committee—Mardi Kidwell, Kevin Whitehead and Geoff Raymond—and section officers would like to congratulate Gene Lerner on the Garfinkel-Sacks Award for Distinguished Scholarship. 

Here are some excerpts from letters of recommendation:

Across a career spanning more than three decades, Gene’s published work has served as a model of analytic rigor and creativity that has made groundbreaking and cross-cutting contributions to virtually every core area of conversation analysis. These include, among others, a number of important elaborations of Sacks, Schegloff, and Jefferson’s pioneering specifications of the turn-taking system for conversational interaction, as well as foundational studies of grammar in interaction, conversational repair, and video studies of embodied conduct. In addition, his work has provided advances and interactional re-specifications of numerous other areas of sociological inquiry, as seen, for example, in his connection of Goffman’s concept of “face” to the interactional organization of preference structures, and in his collaborative contributions to an innovative and wide-ranging project examining the social lives of very young children. 

Gene's research career has been both innovative and exemplary: Innovative both in the traditional sense of opening up new and difficult areas of investigation, but also in a second sense of seeing important lacunae in the classically great papers of conversation analysis on topics like turn-taking and repair, developing the relevant issues, and in the process returning the classic topics themselves to the agenda of active CA research. Gene has never seen the classic papers as 'tablets of stone,' but rather as active and central research sites for on-going investigation. Gene's research is exemplary in its meticulous conceptualization, and in the deep reservoir of craft-skills with which he pursues empirical findings. There are few researchers who are more careful in the use of words than Gene, nor more exact in the instantiation of his conceptualizations with empirical data. His is a most notable career which we all do well to celebrate.