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Ethnomethodology, conversation analysis and education: An overview

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Abstract

Formal education is saturated with language, but language is usually seen as a separate and often subsidiary topic of research, secondary to social class, ethnicity, etc., which are regarded as independent variables. Ethnomethodology (EM) and Conversation Analysis (CA) are recent approaches devised in North America which propose to make language and the social organization of linguistic interchange a generic topic of investigation. They see mastery of language as central to the ability to make culturally recognizable sense of social interaction. Social class, for example, is thus seen as a worded entity.

While EM and CA are sufficiently comprehensive to be applied to any topic, formal education is not stable and constant. It is apprehended differently by the various players of “language games”. CA therefore uses “real-world” transcriptions of recordings for analysis of speech exchange. Early CA was concerned with commonsense membership categorizations such as “adult”, “child”, “adolescent”, “mother”, “son”, “tennis player”, which serve as reference points for the imputation of rights and obligations. Stress is now laid on children's techniques of communication, whereas conventional sociology sees the socialization of children as “one-way”, from adults to children and frequently ignores children's language. In school tests, for example, it is not certain that children will only use the interpretive resources given them by the teacher, or that they will understand test items in terms of the test design devised by adults. The wider classroom agenda is also set by an adult teacher, who is conventionally the next speaker after each student in formal trum-taking.

Zusammenfassung

Sprache ist untrennbar mit formaler Bildung verknüpft, wird jedoch im allgemeinen als separates und oft untergeordnetes Forschungsthema angesehen und an Bedeutung noch hinter den als unabhängige Variablen betrachteten Themen “Soziale Klassen”, “Ethik”, usw. eingestuft. Einige vor kurzem in Nordamerika entwickelten Ansätze sind Ethnomethodologie (EM) und Konversationsanalyse (KA). Dabei wird versucht, Sprache und die soziale Organisation linguistischen Austausches zum Hauptthema der Forschung zu machen. Die Beherrschung einer Sprache erscheint den Begründern dieser Ansätze als Kernpunkt der Fähigkeit, sozialen Interaktionen einen kulturellen Sinn zu geben. So werden zum Beispiel soziale Klassen als linguistisches Gebilde betrachtet.

Während EM und KA umfassend genug für eine Anwendung auf jedes Thema sind, ist die formale Erziehung weder stabil noch konstant. Sie wird von den verschiedenen “Spielern” der “Sprachenspiele” unterschiedlich aufgefaßt. KA benutzt daher Aufzeichnungen von Aufnahmen der “realen Welt” zur Analyse von Gesprächen. In einer früheren Phase befaßte sich KA mit Kategorisierungen, die dem gesunden Menschenverstand entsprachen, wie “Erwachsener”, “Kind”, “Jugendlicher”, “Mutter”, “Sohn”, “Tennisspieler”, die als Basis für Rechte und Verpflichtungen gelten. Betont werden jedoch nunmehr Kommunikationstechniken der Kinder, während die konventionelle Soziologie die Sozialisierung der Kinder als “Einbahnstraße” begreift, nämlich von Erwachsenen zu Kindern, und häufig die Sprache der Kinder mißachtet. Bei schulischen Leistungstests ist es beispielsweise nicht sicher, daß Kinder ausschließlich die ihnen von den Lehrern an die Hand gegebenen Techniken benutzen, oder daß sie die von Erwachsenen zusammengestellten Testaufgaben verstehen. Der übergeordnete Tagesplan wird auch von einem Erwachsenen, dem Lehrer, aufgestellt, der in einer formellen Diskussionsrunde normalerweise nach jedem Schüler das Wort ergreift.

Résumé

L'éducation formelle est saturée de langage, mais celui-ci est normalement considéré comme matière de recherche séparée et souvent subsidiaire, subordonnée à la classe sociale, à l'ethnicité etc., qui sont censées être variables indépendantes. L'Ethnométhodologie (EM) et l'Analyse de conversation (AC) sont de nouvelles approches développées en Amérique du Nord qui visent à rendre le langage et l'organisation sociale d'échanges linguistiques matières de recherche générique. Selon ces enjeux, la maîtrise du langage détermine la facilité de reconnaître dans son cadre culturel l'interaction sociale. La classe sociale, par exemple, se voit ainsi comme entité basée sur la parole.

Tandis que l'EM et l'AC sont suffisamment detaillées et complètes pour être appliquées à tout champs de recherche, l'éducation formelle n'est ni stable ni constante. Les divers joueurs des “jeux linguistiques” l'appréhendent de manières tout à fait différentes. L'AC utilise donc des transcriptions d'enregistrements tirés du “monde réel” pour l'analyse d'échanges parlés. L'AC se concernait d'abord avec les catégorisations de membres de la société dans le langage ordinaire, telles que “adulte”, “enfant”, “adolescent”, “mère”, “fils”, “joueur de tennis”, qui servent de points de référence pour l'imputation des droits et des obligations. On met l'accent maintenant sur les techniques de communication des enfants, au contraire de la sociologie conventionnelle qui considère la socialisation des enfants comme unidirectionnelle, de l'adulte vers l'enfant, et ignore fréquemment le langage des enfants. Dans les tests scolaires, par exemple, il n'est pas certain que les enfants ne se servent que des ressources interprétatives qui leur sont accordées par l'enseignant, ni qu'ils comprennent les éléments d'un test conçu par des adultes. Dans ses grandes lignes, l'ordre du jour de la salle de classe est également décidé par un enseignant adulte, qui reprend normalement la parole après chaque étudiant dans un échange tour à tour de conversation formelle.

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Watson, D.R. Ethnomethodology, conversation analysis and education: An overview. Int Rev Educ 38, 257–274 (1992). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01101432

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Keywords

  • Membership Categorization
  • Language Game
  • Tennis Player
  • Conversation Analysis
  • Speech Exchange