"Interaction is the primary, fundamental embodiment of sociality...'the primordial site of sociality'...The organization of interaction needs to be -- and is -- robust enough, flexible enough, and sufficiently self-maintaining to sustain social order at family dinners and in coal mining pits, around the surgical operating table and on skid row, in New York City and Montenegro and Rossel Island, and so forth, in every nook and cranny where human life is to be found."
Schegloff, Emanuel A. (2006). “Interaction: The Infrastructure for Social Institutions, the Natural Ecological Niche for Language, and the Arena in which Culture is Enacted.” In N. J. Enfield and S. C. Levinson (eds.), Roots of Human Sociality: Culture, Cognition and Interaction (pp. 70-96). London: Berg.
I have graduate degrees in both Linguistics and Sociology, and my research agenda reflects that interdisciplinary footing.
At the broadest level, I am interested in how humans use language to engage in social interaction with one another. We are constantly talking with others as part of almost everything that we do, and (for the most part) we can understand one another with little difficulty. How do we make this machinery work?
My research focuses primarily on the intersection of language and identity in society. How are the resources of language mobilized to show who we are to one another and thereby 'get things done' through talk?
Speakers of Spanish (including those residing in the United States) receive the bulk of my attention. I focus on the ways in which the micro-interactional practices of/with this heterogeneous group actively contribute to larger (more ‘macro’) themes such as questions of race/ethnicity, individual/group identity and culture, relations with social institutions, and so on. Particularly on the institutional side of things, my research in this area has allowed me to propose methods for improving communication with “linguistically isolated” (as the U.S. Census refers to them) populations, including implications for healthcare and public policy.
I have also done some work on interactional practices used to create gender- and sexuality-based identities, including the ways in which these social and behavioral norms are then reproduced in mass communication (e.g., in television discourse and in sports broadcasting).
The basic norms of everyday talk-in-interaction also constitute a fundamental research interest of mine, particularly comparative/cross-linguistic inquiries. For example, I have worked for several years now on how interactants make reference to time in interaction. This is collaborative work with my colleague Anne Elizabeth Clark White at the University of California, Davis.