We frequently do not notice just how much information there is in a simple linguistic exchange, and this exercise will allow you to focus on a very small piece of data, and to record as much information about it as you can. Once again, we are making conscious a process which takes place largely unconsciously every time we enter into a conversation with another person, or every time we observe a conversation among other people.
Engage in three observation sessions. Having written them up, you can now work to apply the concepts from the course to your data. Did you see any of the phenomena we have discussed in
class (e.g., greetings, a level of formality or informality, the use of particular conversational genres, discursive consciousness, radical reflexivity, narratives of belonging, etc)? How do you know that is what you were seeing? Also, consider the data-gathering experience itself. Did it go the way you expected? What assumptions did you find yourself making about the speakers’ gender, ethnicity, age, relationship, etc? Was there anything about it that was easier or harder than you anticipated? Did you notice anything that you were surprised by? Were any expectations fulfilled by the behavior of the people you observed?