‘Showing’ as a Means of Engaging a Reluctant Participant into a Joint Activity

  • Cornelia GerhardtEmail author


The gesture ‘showing’ helps shape a specific activity as well as local roles and moral obligations. Against the backdrop of the activity of a father and daughter “cleaning her room”, this paper raises the question why participants choose to pick up an object rather than simply point at it. In contrast to ‘pointing’, the gesture ‘showing’ involves picking up the object moving it into the projected site of vision of the addressee to establish mutual orientation and a joint activity space. ‘Showing’ appears to be a powerful means to increase the relevance of a response against the backdrop of the trajectory of the unfolding activity. It allows for manipulations of the object and it represents a display of greater commitment, closer association or contiguity.



I would like to thank Elisabeth Reber, Lorenza Mondada, Harrie Mazeland, Jörg Bergmann, Geoffrey Raymond and all members of the MEmI Network as well as members of the audience of the panel on Activities in Interaction at IPrA Belfast for their comments and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Saarland UniversitySaarbrückenGermany

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