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Stefan Norrthon


A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • Greetings as social action in Finland Swedish and Sweden Swedish service encounters - a pluricentric perspective

    2018. Jenny Nilsson (et al.). Intercultural Pragmatics 15 (1), 57-88


    While greetings are performed in all cultures and open most conversations, previous studies suggest that there are cross-cultural differences between different languages in greeting behavior. But do speakers of different national varieties of the same language organize and perform their greeting behavior in similar ways? In this study, we investigate the sequential organization of greetings in relation to gaze behavior in the two national varieties of Swedish: Sweden Swedish spoken in Sweden and Finland Swedish spoken in Finland. In recent years, the importance of studying pluricentric languages from a pragmatic perspective has been foregrounded, not least within the framework of variational pragmatics. To date, most studies have focused on structural differences between national varieties of pluricentric languages. With this study, we extend the scope of variational pragmatics through adding an interactional, micro perspective to the broader macro analysis typical of this field. For this study, we have analyzed patterns for greetings in 297 videorecorded service encounters, where staff and customers interact at theatre box offices and event booking venues in Sweden and Finland. The study shows that there are similarities and differences in greeting behavior between varieties. There is a strong preference for exchanging reciprocal verbal greetings, one at a time, in both. There is also a similar organization of the greeting sequence, where customer and staff establish mutual gaze prior to the verbal greetings, thus signaling availability for interaction. The duration of mutual gaze and the timing of the greeting, however, differ between the two varieties. We have also conducted a multi modal analysis of gaze behavior in correlation to the greeting. We found that the customers and staff in the Finland Swedish data share mutual gaze before and during the verbal greeting, and often avert gaze after the verbal greetings. However, in the Sweden Swedish data, the participants often avert gaze before the verbal greetings. Our results thus indicate that both similarities and differences in pragmatic routines and bodily behavior exist between the two national varieties of Swedish. The present study on greeting practices in Finland Swedish and Sweden Swedish should contribute to the field of variational pragmatics and to the development of pluricentric theory.

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  • To stage an overlap – The longitudinal, collaborative and embodied process of staging eight lines in a professional theatre rehearsal process

    2019. Stefan Norrthon. Journal of Pragmatics 142, 171-184


    The theatrical rehearsal is to date a scarcely investigated institutional setting. This longitudinal, video-ethnographic study follows two actors' work with eight lines in a quarrel scene, from the first day of rehearsals to opening night. The rehearsal is regarded as a transformation process in which the production team laminate (Goodwin, 2018) the script with multimodal resources (Mondada, 2014). The script contains conventional signs for marking overlapping and loudness, and the aim of this study is to document longitudinally how the actors develop, use and coordinate these and other multimodal resources during the rehearsal process. The analysis shows that the actors laminate the script from the first day, and that overlapping and loudness function as mutually developing resources in the performance. Also, different kinds of resources are prominent at different stages of the process: overlap and loudness first increase during the process, but decrease later, as additional embodied resources become more prominent. The transformation process is thus not a linear development. The micro-analysis also shows that the performance on opening night is an emergent interaction, that is, a process. The data and the results challenge dominant theoretical models of participation in fictional discourse.

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  • Teaterrepetitionens interaktion

    2020. Stefan Norrthon (et al.).

    Thesis (Doc)

    This thesis builds on three studies that explore a professional rehearsal process as situated interaction and as a longitudinal process. Primarily, the thesis contributes to the area of interactional linguistics, but it also seeks to contribute new knowledge to theatre studies. The empirical focus is on the participants’ interaction during the rehearsal process and how the performance develops procedurally over time. The main questions driving this research are: 1) What interactive, professional practices do the participants engage in during the rehearsal process, and in what way? 2) How is the script coordinated with other multimodal resources in the development from written text to performance?

    The theory and method used for this work is multimodal interaction analysis, that is, Ethnomethodological Conversation Analysis (EMCA) developed towards multimodal analysis of verbal and non-verbal resources in communication. The data collection was carried out at Riksteatern, Sweden’s largest touring theatre, where Effekten, by Lucy Prebble (2013), had its Swedish premiere in the fall of 2015. I followed rehearsals of a selection of five scenes from the first rehearsal day to opening night. The data consist of field notes, as well as video recordings of a total of 85 hours, filmed mainly with three cameras. In addition, the data include approximately four hours of audio recordings.

    The three studies focus on different practices involved in the theatrical rehearsal process. Study I follows the participants as they laminate (Goodwin 2018) eight lines in a scene where the characters are quarrelling. The aim is to document longitudinally how the actors develop, use and coordinate these and other multimodal resources in different phases of the rehearsal process. Study II focuses on one line in the script, with the aim of uncovering how the participants develop the performance by framing (Goffman 1974) various theatrical contexts in situated interactions and over time. Study III focuses on how the participants at the end of the rehearsal process create timing in transitions between rehearsed scenes by developing and using cues.

    The results show that, and how, rehearsing is a longitudinal process of collaborative creativity, in which the production team together, and moment by moment, develop the performance. Multimodal resources are used in different ways at different points in the process, and there is a shared authorship behind the theatrical performance. The results challenge previous research on theatre and theatre work, in which rehearsing has often been described as an asymmetric interaction between a director and an ensemble. Linguists’ interest in theatre has mainly focused on written scripts, also when the subject has been the relationship between scripts and performances. This thesis argues that the situated and collaborative process of rehearsing should be considered in order to understand the relationship between scripts and performances.

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  • Framing in theater rehearsals

    2021. Stefan Norrthon. Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice 15 (2), 187-214


    This video-ethnographic workplace study documents a theater rehearsal process, which to date is an under-researched professional setting. More specifically, the study investigates the process in which actors and a director frame various contexts that together build the theatrical framework. Applying a conversation analytic method, the analysis follows actors and a director longitudinally as they frame a performance with respect to a single line in a script. The aim is to uncover how the participants develop the performance by framing various theatrical contexts in situated interactions and over time. The results show that the performance develops in a nonlinear manner, whereby social and psychological contexts are foregrounded first. These contexts are later backgrounded when the participants develop physical actions in the performance. In conceptualizing framing as a process of grounding, it can be seen that the participants collaboratively and interactionally add content to the script, and arrive at a mutual understanding by recycling and developing previously established framings. Negotiations of framings are joint and explicit, thus challenging a view of theater work that actors should not be overly conscious of their actions on the stage.

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Show all publications by Stefan Norrthon at Stockholm University