Faculty Profiles

Gene Lerner
Ph.D., UC Irvine
Research Interests

My research centers on language use, body behavior and very young children insofar as these (together and separately) exhibit the formal structures and local organization of practical sequential action in interaction. As a Conversation Analyst, I find myself working simultaneously on a myriad of possibly interesting facets of talk and other conduct that may well prove to be fundamental to human sociality. I can describe two of my most active research projects. The first of these attempts to ground some "entitlements" and "obligations" – i.e. to ground their very recognizability - in the organization of turn-taking and action sequencing for conversation. I have been tracking down the violations to ordinary next speaker selection practices to discover the forms of "intervening action" that justify a non-selected participant speaking out-of-turn. It seems to be the case that such violations are connected to normative concerns that might be characterized as social entitlement and obligation as well as social solidarity. It is the very violation of turn-taking's practices for selecting a next speaker that seems to make these normative matters visible. The second project I have been very actively engaged in recently concerns the ways speakers refer to themselves. (This project is being pursued collaboratively with Celia Kitzinger of York University in the UK.) The focus here is on those places in conversation where a speaker stops what they are saying in order to repair the way they refer to themselves. We find that interactionally interesting actions are underwritten when a speaker takes the time to change from a individual self-reference ("I") to collective self-reference ("we") or visa versa when such a change is not a factual necessity. So, for example, we find that reparative shifts from "I" to "we" (or to an enumerated collectivity such as “my husband and I”) are used to diffuse responsibility to a relational collectivity or organization, while shifts from "we" to "I" are used when personal experience rather than public action is being described for a couple or other collectivity.

Teaching Areas

136A:  The Analysis of Conversational Interaction

136B:  Methods of Conversation Analytic Research

136V:  Video Study of Social Interaction

154EC: Sociology of Early Childhood

Course Listing

Contact Information

Social Sciences and Media Studies Bldg, rm 3411
office hours
R 2:00-4:00pm
Prof. Lerner's "Crash" Policy


Adds will be handled via the GOLD Waitlist for my courses.