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Information Resources Management Association
Advancing the Concepts & Practices of Information Resources Management in Modern Organizations

Turn Taking in E-Mail Discussions

Turn Taking in E-Mail Discussions
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Author(s): Sandra Harrison (Coventry University, UK)
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 18
Source title: Handbook of Research on Computer Mediated Communication
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Sigrid Kelsey (Louisiana State University, USA) and Kirk St.Amant (East Carolina University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-863-5.ch054


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This chapter investigates turn taking in naturally occurring e-mail discussions. In e-mail discussions, participants can self select to contribute at any time, turns cannot be interrupted, and adjacency cannot be guaranteed. However, participants engage in recognisable discussions and “speaker” change occurs. Patterns of turn taking can be observed in the data, and there are many parallels with spoken conversation. In e-mail discussions, the current participant may select a new participant, and those selected usually respond; participants may self select (the most common method of turn taking); and the current participant may choose to continue, either by writing an extended turn or by sending separate consecutive messages. Response is not obligatory unless a respondent has been specified. There is no priority system through which a change of participant takes priority. Because there is less pressure toward current speaker selects last, the system encourages multiple participants to engage in the discussion.

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