Goodwin, Charles. 2007. “Participation, Stance, and Affect in the Organization of Activities.” Discourse and Society 18(1): 53-73.

How interactions within participation frame cast actors as moral and social operants. Responses and directions can be brought through structurally different semiotic practices – language, gesture, language of reference (ie – text), works to create an understanding that is greater than constituent parts.

Language made of conventional (five) and deictic terms (there), paired with structure in environment, paired with gestures – combines cognitive and perceptual operations. Gestures are often accompanied by visual affirmation of response, as well as promoting attendance to a specified issue whilst being posited in an “ecological huddle – “creates a public, shared focus of visual and cognitive attention” (57, see also Goffman 1972), positing bodies for attention. Goffmanian (1979) – ‘footing’ – concerns with stance – “how participants mutually position their bodies toward each other and the environmental that is the focus of their work” (61). Use of bodies and embodiment to construct certain stances that convey authority, decision-making, cooperation, etc.

Language as using calls (or use of names) to present people to redirect or summon attention.

Stances can include:

  • Instrumental – “the placement of entities in the ways that are required for the sign exchange processes necessary for the accomplishment of the activity in progress” (70)
  • Epistemic – “positioning participants so that they can appropriately experience, properly perceive, grasp, and understand relevant features of the events they are engaged in” (70)
  • Cooperative – “the visible display that one is organizing one’s body toward others and a relevant environment in just the ways necessary to sustain and help construct the activities in progress” (70)
  • Moral – “acting in such a way as to reveal to others that the actor can be trusted to assume the alignments and do the cognitive work required for the appropriate accomplishment of the collaborative tasks they are pursuing in concert with each others” (70-71)
  • Affective – “emotions by the individual and toward others that are generated […] by the organization of participation in interaction” (71).

“Close analysis of how participation is organized in the daily activities that make up the life of a family simultaneously sheds light on core practices implicated in the organization of action and the body in human interaction” (71).


Goffman, E. (1972 [1964]) ‘The Neglected Situation’, in P.P. Giglioli (ed.) Language and Social Context, pp. 61–6. Baltimore: Penguin (orig. pub. American Anthropologist 66: 133–6).


Goffman, E. (1981 [1979]) ‘Footing’, in Forms of Talk, pp. 1124–59. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press (orig. pub. Semiotica 25: 1–29).


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