Mediated actions and social practice s: the case of service interactions in Persian shops in Sydney
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 01:33 by Dariush Izadi
Service encounters are a fundamental activity in everyday life whereby commodities and/or information are exchanged between a service provider and a customer. A service encounter is by nature a goal-oriented speech event. However, goals at service encounters are not simply limited to achieving business transactions; on the contrary, they incorporate a range of social and discursive practices. The current study focuses on the intersection of social action, practices and discourses produced and reproduced by the shop owners (a husband–wife team) and the customers within a site of engagement in a typical Persian shop in Sydney and the way they are interactionally realized. Unlike prior studies, which have tended to focus on verbal exchanges as units of analysis without paying much attention to the site of engagement, research on service encounters has recently shifted its focus toward an understanding of the social processes that underpin such verbal exchanges. The present study is situated within the framework of Mediated Discourse Analysis (Scollon, 2001) and Nexus Analysis (Scollon & Scollon, 2004) in that it focuses on how the social practices imbricated in service encounters are always mediated by a range of mediational means, of which wording and text is only one. In such settings, joint actions are not undertaken exclusively through language use, but frequently incorporate nonverbal conduct and references toward material objects available in the physical environment. The findings are presented through a framework of focal themes, namely those of identity, participation works, critical moments, and narratives (small stories), which emerged from the analysis as having particular explanatory resonance. These focal themes form the central chapters of the thesis. The study foregrounds that a mediated discourse analysis of the practices embedded in service encounters provides a finer understanding of specific social practices and actions and local material contexts, which serve to ascribe social identities for shop owners and customers. It also concludes with a discussion of a critical reflection on the multi-perspectival and mixed methodological research orientation. The result of this critical reflection is a tentative map devised to best represent and capture the complexities of the face-to-face interactions that cross boundaries, and set the current study apart from previous studies of service encounters.