Abstract for The Organization of Sequences as a Source of Coherence in Talk-in-Interaction

Emanuel A. Schegloff: "On the Organization of
Sequences as a Source of 'Coherence' in Talk-in- 
Interaction." in B. Dorval (ed.),  Conversational
Organization and its Development. (Norwood, 
New Jersey:Ablex, 1990), 51-77.

In the course of the discussion which follows I
want to display the utility and relevance of the 
"sequence" as another candidate type of unit, the
practices of which can underlie the production of
clumps of talk. The organization of sequences is 
an organization of action, action accomplished 
through talk-in-interaction, which can provide to
a spate of conduct coherence and order which is 
analytically distinct from the notion of topic.
I intend here to explore in an at least sketchy 
way the structure of a moderately extended 
sequence of talk in interaction. Within an ongoing
program of research in the organization of talk- 
in-interaction, the treatment of this spate of 
talk is another in a series of accounts designed
to exhibit a range of ways in which long stretches
of talk can be best understood as orderly 
expansions or elaborations of a single underlying
unit of sequence construction.' For the purposes
of this chapter and its central theme, I choose 
this presentational tack, and this bit of 
conversation, to make two major points: first, 
that the "sequence structure" of a spate of talk
and its topical aspect or structure are 
analytically distinct and can be empirically at 
least partially independent; and second, that
the sequence structure itself can provide for the
organizational coherence of the talk. But I have 
other purposes as well which this fragment will allow us to explore. A third theme is to see how,
even when misunderstandings and trouble arise, 
these can be coherently shaped by sequence
structure in conversation. Finally, and in the 
service of the other aims, I hope to engage in an
exercise in bringing past work on the analysis
of conversational interaction to bear on this 
singular episode of talk, for its capacity to 
elucidate single episodes is one important 
criterion of the relevance and pay-off of this 
mode of analysis (cf. Schegloff, 1987a).

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