Society for Linguistic Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
Joshua Raclaw (West Chester University)
Abby Bajuniemi (Gomoll Research & Design)
While a great deal of work has focused on how telephone survey interviews are accomplished as talk-in-interaction (Maynard, Houtkoop-Steenstra, Schaeffer, & van der Zouwen, 2002), little if any scholarship has examined written online surveys. These surveys are not truly interactive: the turns of one "participant" in these surveys are largely pre-determined. Even so, human participants regularly use devices in open-ended responses that indicate they understand the survey as an interaction, including "would-say" (cf. Maynard, 2012) and call-backs to previous answers such as "As I mentioned." Many survey research methods treat each question in isolation; the physical format of many survey programs encourages this type of entextualization. While a single question and response form an adjacency pair (Schegloff & Sacks, 1973), I argue that such analytic methods indicate a mismatch between the assumptions of researchers and of respondents that further "lightens" those responses. Namely, researchers reject the idea that the survey is an interaction, even as participants strategically co-construct acceptable responses with the researcher "behind the prompt."