Ali Reza Majlesi
Associate Professor and Senior Lecturer at the Department of Education
I received my P.hD. within the interdisciplinary area of "language and culture" with a specialization in "language and social interaction". I started out as a linguist – in Applied Linguistics – and made my home base in Conversation Analysis and particularly in the Multimodal Analysis of Social Interactions – with their roots in Ethnomethodology. For my studies, this means that I study social actions and practices, and attend to languaging, meaning-making processes, and the organization of interactivities, and how they are accomplished in everyday and institutional settings.
My research touches upon various aspects of human sociality, meaning-making processes, understanding of the social world, and also the organization of knowledge and morality in human activities. I am interested in socialization, professional practices, and instructional activities with a particular interest in learnables in everyday and institutional settings. The methodology I adopt entails a detailed analysis of video and audio recordings of human conduct, with regard to the use of language and other embodied resources, as well as materialities in social activities. I have been conducting various studies with a particular focus on social activities with people with diverse cognitive and communicative abilities, such as L1-L2 speakers or people with certain cognitive conditions such as dementia. The themes of my studies include collaboration in joint activities, accomplishing various tasks at workplaces, pedagogical activities, multitasking, using technology in communication, human-robot interactions, group activities, peer communications, social learning, social inclusion and exclusion, forming in- and out-group membership, building identities and organizing emotions through embodied practices.
- “The language café as a social venue and a space for language training”. The leader of the project: Gunilla Jansson. Financed by Vetenskapsrådet (The Swedish Science Council). Grant number 2017-033628. Years 2018-2021.
- “Life with dementia: Communication, Relation, and Cognition”. The leader of the program: Lars-Christer Hydén. Financed by FORTE (The Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life & Welfare). Grant number 2016-07207. Years 2017-2022.
- "Culturally informed robots in learning activities (CIRILA)". The leader of the project: Olov Engwall. Financed by the Wallenberg foundations (MAW). Grant number MAW 2020.0052. Years 2021-2023.
Social interaction, Ethnomethodology, Conversation analysis, Multimodality, Embodied practices, Language use, Classroom interaction, Institutional talk, People with dementia, Human-robot interaction
A selection from Stockholm University publication database
Assisted eating in late-stage dementia: Intercorporeal interaction
2022. Lars-Christer Hydén, Ali Reza Majlesi, Anna Ekström. Journal of Aging Studies 61Article
In this article, we argue that investigating and learning about agentive abilities of people living with late-stage dementia requires a theoretical framework that focuses on the use of bodily resources in interpersonal interaction (i.e., intercorporeality) for performing joint activities rather than on solely the use of spoken language. Assisted eating, which involves people living with late-stage dementia and professional carers, is taken as an empirical example. The study is based on observations and video recordings of occasions of assisted eating involving five people with late-stage dementia in a residential elder care home; one of these people is used as an example in this paper. The analysis shows that assisted eating is performed as a joint intercorporeal activity. The participants create joint attentional space and a common space of action for their bodily movements when they give and receive food. The participants engaged in the activity coordinate their bodily moves with each other. The analysis (1) demonstrates that the collaboration between people living with late-stage dementia and nurses is based on practical interdependent and co-operative bodily actions. (2) This makes it possible to better understand agency in terms of intercorporeal interaction displayed by people living with late-stage dementia. (3) The agency demonstrated in intercorporeal interaction is thus considered to be shared and distributed across bodies and requires support to be interactionally achieved. (4) The intercorporeal interaction as grounds for agency not only calls on other participants to note and honor the agency of the person with dementia that is still evident in embodied interaction, but also invites others to support people with dementia to claim and display their agency in social interactions and joint activities.
Multimodal analys av klassrumsinteraktion
2021. Eva Insulander (et al.).Book
Den här boken ger en introduktion till multimodal analys av klassrumsinteraktion, och vägledning i socialsemiotik respektive etnometodologisk samtalsanalys. De två utgångspunkterna kan antas för att studera interaktion och skapa underlag för analys och tolkning av fenomen som undervisning, lärande och bedömning samt sociala relationer (fenomen som uppmärksammas inom UVK-kurser).
Boken redogör för forskningsprocessens olika steg såsom problemformulering, metoder för datainsamling och analys och erbjuder särskilt verktyg för att genomföra praktiknära studier på vetenskaplig grund. I boken presenteras hur två skilda teoretiska och metodologiska utgångspunkter resulterar i olika undersökningsbara frågor, begreppsanvändning och analysmodeller för studier av interaktion.
Här uppmärksammas vikten av ett multimodalt perspektiv på interaktion då språkliga, kroppsliga och materiella aspekter får betydelser för analys och tolkning av olika fenomen.
Sitting down on a chair
2021. Ali Reza Majlesi, Anna Ekström, Lars-Christer Hydén. Gesprächsforschung, 569-590Article
This study deals with directive sequences in mobility practices when people with dementia are assisted to sit at the dinner table. By using multimodal analysis of interaction, we highlight how caregivers, often in encounter with more debilitated residents, may deconstruct the entire activity of sitting down on a chair into smaller practical projects and move from mitigated directives with indirect forms to more imperative formats which are shorter, clearer and more lucid in their turn design. In our data set, directives in both downgraded or upgraded forms are accompanied by embodied linguistic and haptic resources and are hardly ever used to claim authority over the residents, but as communicative resources to help people with dementia to perform an instructed action.
"She didn't expect to get a slap"
2020. Gunilla Jansson, Ali Reza Majlesi. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 2020 (262), 39-66Article
The current study is carried out in an ethnically diverse three-semester vocational adult education programme in Sweden for those who aspire to register as assistant nurses. The data is based on field notes taken during participant observations and video-recordings of the classroom interaction in a course on dementia care in the autumn of 2014. In Sweden, care work is framed by the goals stated in The Swedish Social Services Act, which is to promote the elderly’s right to self-determination and independence. In the class in which this study was carried out, this policy informed the teaching of “good” communication practices. The aim of this article is to demonstrate how the strategies taught in school that embody this policy come into conflict with the seemingly unavoidable dilemmas experienced by trainee students on the work floor. We analyse two examples of teachers acting out hypothetical scenes for the purpose of modeling proper caregiver conduct in dealing with frail, powerless individuals with dementia. The students’ descriptions of their own conduct in managing challenging resident behaviour are thereby considered as accountable actions. The article brings into focus the complexity of the power relations and institutional asymmetries at play concerning the teaching situation in training classes for care workers.
2020. Ali Reza Majlesi, Gunilla Jansson, Maria Rydell. Multimodal interaktionsanalys, 123-141Chapter
Social interaktion är alltid förkroppsligad och multimodal, det vill säga när vi interagerar med andra använder vi olika kommunikativa resurser där flera av dem utgår från vår kropp. En av de mest framträdande förkroppsligade kommunikativa resurserna är gester. Gester används frekvent och fyller olika funktioner i interaktion. I vissa fall kan de rentav ha en avgörande roll i meningsskapandet.
Spatiotemporal arrangement of objects in activities with people with dementia
2019. Ali Reza Majlesi, Anna Ekstrom, Lars-Christer Hyden. Logopedics, Phoniatrics, Vocology 44 (1), 31-40Article
Purpose: This study shows how the spatial organization of objects and their use may impact locally produced order of activities and how that can affect the accomplishment of everyday activities by people with dementia. Methods: The study is based on ethnomethodological conversation analysis of eight and a half hours of video recordings in three different settings. Eighteen sequences of activities identified were multimodally transcribed and analyzed. Results: The availability or non-availability of objects, their arrangements and manipulations play a crucial role in the management of the order of activities and may present both challenges and facilitations for people with dementia. The organizations of objects directly influence the order of the activity, and the objects' potential use may afford actions that deviate from the trajectory and the order of the main activity. Conclusions: One of the significant uses of objects is how they contribute to the perceptual field where attention is organized for building actions. Participants in activities modify the perceptual field by manipulating objects in the material surrounds in response to the relevancies resulting from the unfolding activities. Therefore, spatial contingency is significant in the accomplishment of activities by people with dementia. As it is not self-evident that verbal instructions may result in the instructed actions accordingly, the rearrangement of objects and making them timely available to people with dementia may increase the possibilities of keeping the order of the activities intact.
2018. Ali Reza Majlesi. The Modern language journal 102, 11-29Article
This study aims to show how multimodality, that is, the mobilization of various communicative resources in social actions (Mondada, 2016), can be used to teach grammar. Drawing on ethnomethodological conversation analysis (Sacks, 1992), the article provides a detailed analysis of 2 corrective feedback sequences in a Swedish-as-a-second-language classroom. It shows that teaching grammar using corrective feedback sequences is a collaborative activity between teachers and students, which requires both verbal and other embodied practices. Specifically, it demonstrates how the teachers made grammatical constructs visible, noticeable, and thus learnable through the use of multiple resources such as annotating and illustrating on a whiteboard or projection screen, using concrete meta-talk (Storch, 2008), together with nonverbal actions such as gesturing. The article argues that the practice of marking a linguistic structure through multiple resources creates landmarks' for teaching purposes. These landmarks were used (a) for an instructed vision through which the intelligibility of abstract grammatical concepts and relations as cognitive phenomena is constituted by a concrete set of observable and reportable actions, and (b) as prompts in organizing knowledge not only for the purpose of the current activity of teaching but also for future occasions.
Patient-centered interaction in interpreted primary care consultations
2018. Jenny Paananen, Ali Reza Majlesi. Journal of Pragmatics 138, 98-118Article
In this article, we analyze the interactional work of interpreters from the viewpoint of patient-centered care. Interpreters can support patient-centered care by both translational and non-translational actions. They can calibrate the talk in rendition so as to benefit the intersubjective understanding of all parties, and can also help doctors and patients understand each other better through various embodied means. Our analysis draws on a multimodal analysis of interaction (see e.g. Goodwin, 2018; Mondada, 2016) and is based on a detailed analysis of three primary care consultations video recorded at a Finnish health center. In each consultation, the patient is a refugee or an asylum seeker and the interpreter is a professional community interpreter. We demonstrate three practices that seem to enhance patient-centeredness. Firstly, we show how interpreters can balance between direct interpretation and mediation to produce a clear yet precise rendition of turns at talk. Secondly, we demonstrate how interpreters display recipiency and provide interactional space for the patient by producing response particles that encourage the patient to continue talking. Thirdly, we illustrate how embodied co-operation in interpreted consultations makes the renditions more intelligible and tangible for all the parties involved in interpreter -mediated interaction.
Speaking for and about a spouse with dementia
2018. Elin Nilsson, Anna Ekström, Ali Reza Majlesi. Discourse Studies 20 (6), 770-791Article
This study analyses sequences where people with dementia are positioned as third parties in stories about their own lives. Previous research emphasises how people with dementia are frequently excluded from social encounters, and how others tend to speak for or about them in their co-presence. Drawing on conversation analytic methods when analysing 15 video recorded interviews with Swedish couples living with dementia, we argue that telling stories in which a spouse with dementia is positioned as a third party in his or her co-presence does not have to be an activity of exclusion. Rather, among couples, third-party positioning is a multifaceted activity where couples employ different practices to organise participation frameworks and manage both inclusion and exclusion in talk-in-interaction. Furthermore, we show how participants display joint speakership and counteract actions of exclusion by making use of various communicative resources such as gaze, touch and bodily orientation.
Embodiment in test of cognitive functioning
2018. Ali Reza Majlesi, Charlotta Plejert. Dementia 17 (2), 138-163Article
This study explores how manners of mediation, and the use of embodiment in interpreter-mediated conversation have an impact on tests of cognitive functioning in a dementia evaluation. By a detailed analysis of video recordings, we show how participants—an occupational therapist, an interpreter, and a patient—use embodied practices to make the tasks of a test of cognitive functioning intelligible, and how participants collaboratively put the instructions of the tasks into practice. We demonstrate that both instructions and instructed actions—and the whole procedure of accomplishing the tasks—are shaped co-operatively by embodied practices of all three participants involved in the test situation. Consequently, the accomplishment of the tasks should be viewed as the outcome of a collaborative achievement of instructed actions, rather than an individual product. The result of the study calls attention to issues concerning interpretations of, and the reliability of interpreter-mediated tests and their bearings for diagnostic procedures in dementia evaluations.
Baking together - the coordination of actions in activities involving people with dementia
2016. Ali Reza Majlesi, Anna Ekström. Journal of Aging Studies 38, 37-46Article
This study explores interaction and collaboration between people with dementia and their spouses in relation to the performance of household chores with the focus on instruction as an interactional context to engage the person with dementia in collaboration to accomplish joint activities. Dementia is generally associated with pathological changes in people's cognitive functions such as diminishing memory functions, communicative abilities and also diminishing abilities to take initiative as well as to plan and execute tasks. Using video recordings of everyday naturally occurring activities, we analyze the sequential organization of actions (see Schegloff, 2007) oriented toward the accomplishment of a joint multi-task activity of baking. The analysis shows the specific ways of collaboration through instructional activities in which the person with dementia exhibits his competence and skills in accomplishing the given tasks through negotiating the instructions with his partner and carrying out instructed actions. Although the driving force of the collaboration seems to be a series of directive sequences only initiated by the partner throughout the baking activity, our analyses highlight how the person with dementia can actively use the material environment including collaborating partners to compensate for challenges and difficulties encountered in achieving everyday, tasks. The sequential organization of instructions and instructed actions are in this sense argued to provide an interactional environment wherein the person with dementia can make contributions to the joint activity in an efficient way. While a collaborator has been described as necessary for a person with dementia to be able to partake in activities, this study shows that people with dementia are not only guided by their collaborators in joint activities but they can also actively use their collaborators in intricate compensatory ways.