Justine Bakuuro


Conversation Analysis (CA), a research tradition that grew out of ethnomethodolgy has some unique methodological features. It studies the social organization of “conversation” or “talk-in-interaction” by a detailed inspection of tape recordings and transcriptions made from such recordings. In doing conversation analysis, the analyst identifies a prevailing theme or object around which a conversation is centered. He then goes on to extrapolate how this chosen theme is constructed in the conversation. This paper explores the theme of identity and power construction in the dialogue between two personalities - Vic and the Unknown Lady. It uses two theories-the speech act theory and the relevance theory. There are hardly any prescriptions to be followed if one is to do a “good CA”. A chosen theme, which a conversation analyst bases his exploration on, is termed in the terminology of Schenkein (1978), as “a sketch of an analytic mentality”. In the words of Heritage and Atkinson (1984), “The central goal of conversation analytic research is the description and explication of the competences that ordinary speakers use and rely on in participating in intelligible, socially organized interaction”. This paper has thus attempted to do a sketch of an analytic mentality and explicate the competences of the two conversationalists-Vic and the Unknown Lady- in their admonishing of the dominant theme of identity and power construction in the dialogue between them. Among other findings, the study notes significantly that identity construction involves inclusionary and exclusionary processes in conversational interactions and that words are weapons. The study establishes the fact that power indeed creates identity and that language draws boundaries, making it implicative that identity presupposes similarities and differences.


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conversation analysis (CA), transcriptions, identity, dialogue, power construction, conversationalist


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