I was reading Chapter 3 of David Silverberg’s Doing Qualitative Research: A Practical Handbook (Silverman, 2010 p.17-42) in September. In it he gives three research diaries of Ph.D. students he had, detailing how they went from the start of their research projects, through methodology choice, and then through to data analysis. While it was quite striking how coherent and “painless” the stories were, the more relevant realization I took away from it was the importance of having a framework around which to direct your research and to make sense of your data. In two of the cases, the students used conversational analysis, a ethnomethodological approach.
Conversation analysis (commonly abbreviated as CA) is the study of talk in interaction (both verbal and non-verbal in situations of everyday life). CA generally attempts to describe the orderliness, structure and sequential patterns of interaction, whether institutional (in school, a doctor’s surgery, court or elsewhere) or in casual conversation.