This study presents a new perspective on small talk and its crucial role in everyday communication. The new approach presented here is supported by analyses of interactional data in specific settings - private and public, face-to-face and telephone talk. They vary from gossip at the family dinner table and intimate 'keeping in touch' phone conversations, to interpersonally-focused talk in institutional settings, such as the government office and the university research seminar. Drawing on a range of methodological approaches, including Discourse Analysis and Pragmatics, Interpersonal Communication and Conversation Analysis, the author elevates small talk to a new status, as functionally multifaceted, but central to social interaction as a whole.
''All of the essays in this collection emphasize the complexity of small talk, they also stress the important role that small talk has in interpersonal relations particularly in conversatons between strangers and institutional settings.''
Sara Mills, Sheffield Hallam University
PART 1: LOCATING SMALL TALK THEORETICALLY 1. Doing collegiality and keeping control at work: small talk in government departmentsJanet Holmes 2. Institutional identity work: a better lensKaren Tracy and Julie M. Naughton 3. Mutually captive audiences: small talk and the genre of close-contact service encountersMichael McCarthy 4. Silence and small talkAdam Jaworski PART 2: PROCEDURAL ASPECTS: PARTICIPANTS ORIENTATIONS TO AND ORGANISATION OF SMALL TALK 5. Calling just to keep in touch: regular and habitualised telephone calls as an environment for small talkPaul Drew and Kathy Chilton 6. Talk about the weather: small talk, leissure talk and the travel industryNikolas Coupland adn Virpi Ylanne-McEwan 7. Social rituals, formulaic speech and small talk at the supermarket checkoutKoenraad Kuiper and Marie Findall PART 3: SMALL TALK, SOCIABILITY AND SOCIAL COHESION 8. Gossipy events at family dinners: negotiating sociability, presence and the moral orderShoshana Blum-Kulka 9. Small talk and subversion: female speakers backstageJennifer Coates PART 4: PROFESSIONAL AND COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS 10. Sociable talk in women's health care contexts: two forms of non-medical talkSandy L. Ragan 11. Small talk in service dialogues: the conversational aspects of transactional telephone talkChristine Cheepen