Abstract for Commentary on Stivers & Rossano: "Mobilizing Response"

My engagement with Stivers and Rossano’s 
“Mobilizing Response” (henceforth S&R and MR,
2010/this issue) has led me in many directions,
of which space limitations confine me to four.
  1. The first is focused on the relationship 
between two conceptions of the calling of conver-
sation analysis (CA): One is centered on the 
organization of action in interaction, the 
organizations of practices for accomplishing 
those actions and courses of action, and the 
basic infrastructure for the whole domain—turns 
and their form and distribution; actions and 
their trajectories; troubles and their 
resolution; language as an interface with the 
physical, social, cultural, emotional, and other
worlds that humans live in, grasp and navigate, 
etc. The other conception is centered on embodied
actors, bringing the elements of the organization
of human sociality just mentioned into being 
moment by moment in a particular place, with 
particular others, vying with or yielding to one 
another, etc. Both are important, but for me the
former is the crux of our undertaking; the title 
“Mobilizing Response” suggests that for S&R the 
latter is the target.
  2. The second direction was dominated by a 
recurrent sense that the analyses of the data
extracts that were to supply the empirical 
grounding of the argument were too often wide or
shy of the mark, particularly with respect (a) to
the claim that the targeted utterances were 
sequence initial and (b) to the assignment of 
action terms to characterize them — these short-
comings being especially worrisome since the 
focus of their claims was on other aspects of 
these utterances.
  3. The third direction concerned a persistent 
uneasiness with several of the arguments being 
put forward and the gap between them and the data 
analyses. The most problematic of these was (for 
me, at least) the notion of differentials in 
“pressure on a recipient to respond,” and what 
(sort of) evidence could be brought to bear in 
support of such a claim that might also undermine
  4. The fourth direction dawned gradually on me 
as I tried to formulate an alternative to S&R’s
undertaking; when I got it under some control, I 
found myself wondering whether S&R’s project 
might after all be a good way to proceed, if only
they would forego the critical grounding of their 
project (which I think to be for the most part 
ill considered) in favor of the affirmative 
grounds for pursuing it.

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