SYMP 292 - Unanchoring activity: Withs as a unit of analysis for tracing distributed communication and action across spatial-temporal scales and socio-material settings

3.5 Unit of analysis: historicity, context, and levels of analytic scale
Symposium (Symp)
1:30 PM, Thursday 31 Aug 2017 (2 hours)
Afternoon Refreshments   03:30 PM to 03:50 PM (20 minutes)
This symposium tackles the problem of tracing distributed communication and action across temporal-spatial scales and socio-material settings. Extending Goffman’s notion of withs (an interaction order formed by a mobile pair or group, as opposed to singles) and critiquing accounts of activity systems anchored in typified conjunctions of time, space, people, and social orders, we present analyses that explore how withs traverse time, place, activity, and setting. The first paper, “Dialogic withs in the assemblage of face-to-face interactions”, offers a theoretical framework (integrating dialogic semiotics, CHAT, ANT, and research on communicative practices) to extend withs to the interactional chains a pair or group trace across time, space, and activities. It illustrates this framework through the author’s research on collaborative referencing, communicative brokering, and narrative. The second paper, “A case study of writing withs in biology: Tracing laminated, dispersed, and diverse networks of semiotic remediation in scientific authorship”, analyzes withs in the literate practices of a post-doctoral biologist’s authorship networks (formal and informal, disciplinary and personal). The third paper, “Acting with animals: Tracing human-animal withs in a clinical setting”, analyzes Animal Assisted Therapy sessions at an in-patient rehabilitation center. The final paper, “Acting with drawings: Tracing semiotic practices across laminated discourse itineraries”, considers human-tool withs, analyzing how an undergraduate student develops and uses drawing practices across diverse settings (daily life, fan fiction, engineering, play, etc.). Ultimately, we suggest that seeing withs as historical highlights how durable dimensions of life (e.g., personal relationships) must be assembled in situated functional systems.

University of Illinois
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
University of Central Florida
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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