Language and Social Interaction

We explore communication and culture across a variety of everyday and institutional contexts.

The way that people communicate with each other is fundamental to who we are, what we do, and how we live our lives.  We communicate through talk, gesture, expression, text, discourse and an ever-widening set of cultural practices. Through social interaction, we build personal relationships, enact our professional lives, persuade and argue, construct ourselves and others, and exercise or resist power.

  • The basics of communication: What are the rules of conversation?
  • Identity and politics: How is prejudice expressed in everyday life?
  • Healthcare: How do doctors and other healthcare staff and patients communicate sensitively and effectively?
  • Crises and emergencies: How do emergency personnel handle delicate situations of high risk?
  • The future of conversation: How do AI and voice technologies manage social interaction in everyday life?
  • Disordered talk: What difficulties of communication do people with dementia, aphasia or learning disability need to overcome?

Research highlights:

The power of effective communication: Deep understanding of real talk ‘in the wild’ can engage audiences and save lives 

This is a list of ongoing interdisciplinary projects within Loughborough University that fall under the Language and Social Interaction theme. 

Interactional use of numbers in political interviews

Brendan Lawson, Saul Albert, Magnus Hamann, Laura Jenkins, Tilly Flint, Nathan Ritchie

This project examines interactions between politicians and journalists that centre on statistics--for example, how the pledge of "50,000 more nurses" in the NHS by the UK government functioned within conversations between journalists and different Conservative politicians. They've had three data sessions so far and will be looking to expand their work in 2024.

Corrective feedback in ballet: A conversation analysis approach

Jennie Hancox, Saul Albert, Jessica Robles

This project analyses how errors are corrected in an advanced ballet class. Specifically it looks at how the instructor incorporates error correction into different phases of the class to manage the constraints of bodily movement, musical and rhythmic integration, and individual versus group feedback. 

Co-constructing media events: An analysis of Vox-Pops during the BBC’s coverage of the national mourning

Taeyoung Kim, Saul Albert, Magnus Hamann, Marco Pino, Nathan Ritchie

This project investigates the live coverage of the national mourning surrounding the Queen’s funeral and Lying in State broadcast by the BBC and examines how the broadcaster constructs a narrative of communal experience during live broadcasts. Specifically, we draw on Daniel Dayan and Elihu Katz’s (1992) theory of media events to show how the public broadcaster uses the ‘vox-pop’ format of ostensibly spontaneous, live interviews with ‘the ordinary person on the street’ (Lewis et al. 2005) as part of this process. By analysing the Queen’s funeral and lying in state as media events, we focus on how journalists and members of the public formulate their involvement dialogically. This approach allows us to access and analyse the reproduction of ideology in action (Fine and Kent 1993), as well as moments of discontinuity, resistance, and counter-narratives that emerge through the discursive politics surrounding the nation’s monarch.

Conversation analysis of jury deliberations in a live rape trial simulation study

Dominic Willmott, Emma Richardson, Laura Jenkins

This project seeks to understand how and when jurors invoke false and prejudicial beliefs when deliberating in a live rape trial recreation. Our data are 435 hours of audio-recorded deliberations across six separate deliberating jury groups. This applied conversation analysis permits us to move beyond evidencing the mere presence of rape myths in the deliberations, as others have done, and instead to look, in detail, at how these are constructed.