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Body arrangements and talk: Organizing participation in interaction (Ringvorlesung Sprache und Kommunikation)

Lecturer(s)Lorenza Mondada (Basel; Französistik)
Contact personHeike Behrens
DateTuesday, 26th March 2019
LocationKollegienhaus, Hörsaal 118, Petersplatz 1 Basel Switzerland

Body arrangements and talk: Organizing participation in interaction


Human communication in face to face is fundamentally multimodal, that means based not only on language, but also on gesture, gaze, body postures, and movements.

The talk explores the consequences of this conception of communication for the analysis of participation: How is participation to talk enabled, afforded, or hindered? How do body arrangements of the speakers reveal the specific way in which they contribute and participate in the encounter?


When speakers engage in talk, they do not only use language but also their body. After a long tradition of studies based on gesture and gaze, more recent research has highlighted the importance of considering the speaker’s entire body and consequently the arrangement of interacting bodies in talk. Video analysis of body positions enables us to study how speakers may engage in different ways in the encounter, how they position themselves as primary speakers or as marginal participants, how they build their relative positionings and identities, and how this displays diverse forms of entitlement, rights, and participation. This is particularly crucial in multi-party interactions, in which body arrangements reveal how e.g. couples, groups, and teams engage in (in)equal, in/exclusive, (a)symmetric, and complementary ways in the encounter.

The lecture will present a typology of participation frameworks, their embodied organization, and their specific dispositions within space.


Issues in participation are fundamental in a range of everyday but also, crucially, institutional encounters, in which they enable us to describe dynamics of inclusion and exclusion, and how participants manage asymmetries and inequalities, accentuating or resorbing them.

Bezüge zu anderen Vorträgen innerhalb der RVL:


    • Gülich und Pfänder: Grundlagen der Gesprächsanalyse und der Rolle des Körpers in der Kommunikation


    • Luginbühl/von Waldkrich, Pick, Dayter: Genres, (institutionalisierte) Diskurstypen