A marriage of convenience: Ethnography conversation analysis of real-estate negotiation


  • Thilagavathi Shanmuganathan University of Malaya


Naturally-occurring conversations have always been criticized for being chaotic and incoherent (Givón, 1995). The few who have ventured into analyzing spontaneous speech were concerned with the features of speech or patterns of turn-taking (Fairclough, 1992; Sacks, Schegloff, & Jefferson, 1974; Hutchby & Wooffitt, 2002). Besides using simulated contexts, the studies relied on a single method or approach to analyse data. This study investigates naturally-occurring conversations in the context of negotiation and highlights the importance of triangulating approaches as a means of complementing the drawbacks of one method – a marriage of convenience.

The need for this marriage is evident if one studies the main thrusts of the methodologies of conversation analysis (CA) with ethnography. CA basically prescribes to the notion of analysing data exclusively on what the „participants see and hear‟ (Sacks et al., 1974). However, it does not seek to investigate the hidden meaning behind particular utterances. As a result, there is no attempt to explain why interlocutors say what they say despite the meaning intended and that interpreted by the recipient differing from the obvious linguistic meaning. In view of this need to explicate speaker meaning, ethnographic information was a necessary partner. For instance, CA prescribes that researchers be „a part of‟ the participants‟ community to be able to „see and hear‟ like them – a stand similar to ethnographic analysis.

This study sets out to investigate, using the CA method, how unacquainted interlocutors construct a systematic procedure of phase structures in negotiation. Based on ethnographic information the study explicates how interlocutors are able to distinguish implied from linguistic meaning. In this study, two negotiation cases were audio recorded and data was later transcribed using Jefferson‟s (1986) transcription conventions. Findings reveal that this marriage of convenience provides significant results that help establish understanding of the negotiation exchange.



How to Cite

Shanmuganathan, T. (2020). A marriage of convenience: Ethnography conversation analysis of real-estate negotiation. Working Papers in Culture, Discourse and Communication, 4. Retrieved from https://ojs.aut.ac.nz/wcdc/article/view/19