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Samtal i butik: Språklig interaktion melllan biträden och kunder
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Scandinavian Languages.
2006 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Conversation in service encounters : Verbal interaction between shop assistants and customers (English)
Abstract [en]

The subject of this study is language use in a special type of social activity: the exchange of goods, services and information in a commercial setting. The main aim is to gain an understanding of the work that shop assistants perform using language. In the analysis, the focus is on verbal routine work. One part of the analysis thus entails mapping the typical utterances and conversational sequences related to such activities. Another part involves investigating how much non-task-oriented interaction the various activities require or “tolerate”, for instance, in the form of “small talk”.

A central theme in the study is the interactants’ conversational rights and obligations, from the perspective of politeness theory, especially Fraser’s theory of the conversational contract. The service encounters are categorised as activity types, according to Levinson’s activity theory. In the comparative parts of the study, the concept of pragmeme is used as a tool to examine different realisations of prototypical situated communicative acts.

The empirical material consists of authentic conversations, analysed by methods borrowed from conversation analysis. The conversations were recorded at a supermarket checkout till, a deli counter with manual service and an information desk in a bookshop. It turned out that only a few of the customer conversations were without complications. At the supermarket till, for instance, only one out of four conversations was completely routine and unproblematic.

Also presented is a diachronic investigation of the norms relating to service encounters that have been taking place in shops since the 1940s. The main sources here are manuals and study materials for shop employees, together with interviews and material gathered from role playing. In this part of the study, a number of features in the historical change process are described, for instance in the manner of addressing people and the use of politeness expressions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, 2006. , 302 p.
Stockholm studies in Scandinavian philology, ISSN 0562-1097 ; N.S., 41
Keyword [en]
service encounter, activity type, pragmeme, politeness, conversational contract, conversation analysis, interactional routine, small talk, shop assistant, talk at work, Swedish
National Category
Specific Languages
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-1058ISBN: 91-85445-31-2OAI: diva2:189330
Public defence
2006-06-09, hörsal 9, hus D, Universitetsvägen 10, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2006-05-15 Created: 2006-05-15 Last updated: 2013-12-04Bibliographically approved

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