Mondada, L. (2009). Emergent focused interactions in public places: A systematic analysis of the multimodal achievement of a common interactional space. Journal of Pragmatics, 41(10), 1977-1997.
This paper deals with the multimodal and spatial arrangements of the participants within pre-beginning and opening sequences, i.e. sequences taking place before the actual opening of a social interaction and achieving the conditions for an imminent opening. In face- to-face conversations, these sequences are characterized by intense body activities in space, through which participants achieve their social and spatial convergence and conjunction, and initiate a coordinated common entry in the interaction. In this phase, even before beginning to speak, participants achieve the mutual orientation of their bodies and of their gaze. Pre-conditions for social interaction are visibly and publicly assembled in time, within the progressive establishment of a mutual focus of attention and a common interactional space. In public places and between unknown persons, this mutual arrangement is even more important, emerging progressively from the participants’ transition from moving to standing, and their transformation from unfocused pedestrians to focused would-be- imminent-co-participants. On the basis of a corpus of video recordings, the paper offers an analysis of a collection of pre-beginnings of itinerary descriptions in public space and systematically describes the identification of the emerging interactional partner, the organization of convergent trajectories in space, the exchange of first mutual glances, and the very first words produced in the encounter.
Interactions in public space require particular configurations, especially when between strangers; there are discrete stages of preparatory actions
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