The service domain project

The aim of the service domain project is to compare recurring pragmatic and interactional variation in Finland-Swedish and Sweden-Swedish service encounters. The service domain project is conducted by the group of chief investigators. With the help of our research assistants we have video-recorded 1300 short service encounters between customer and staff at theatre box offices, event booking outlets and library information desks in 12 municipalities in Finland and Sweden, equally distributed between the two countries. The complete data set amounts to nearly 50 hours which has been transcribed in CLAN. Some of the recordings have been made with several cameras to allow multimodal analyses.

Characteristic of service encounters of the type we investigate is that they typically consist of short interactions dealing with a specific topic (e.g. purchase of tickets, collection of pre-booked tickets, or request for information about a show). The service project focuses, among other things, on how interlocutors introduce and finish such brief service encounters. Opening and closing sequences in talk-in-interaction are particularly interesting since they are likely to include a great deal of pragmatic routines and negotiations between interlocutors, e.g. actions such as greetings, initiating and finishing the business, and actions of leave-taking. Openings and closings also belong to the areas which have been mentioned as interesting in earlier studies of cross-cultural pragmatics (c.f. Schneider & Barron 2008b:8ff.).

To date we have investigated micro pragmatic features such as: address practices, the opening sequence and greeting patterns, how the reason for the visit is presented as well as the role of artefacts in carrying out a service transaction. Our results so far indicate that there is some consistent variation between the two national varieties of Swedish both in terms of type and frequency of pragmatic routines, and in terms of how much interactional work/negotiation that takes place before the business has been dealt with and finalised. At the macro pragmatic level such differences might be associated with differences in the type of interpersonal communicative strategies that dominate in the respective speech communities. These aspects are investigated further as part of the contextual project which aims at discussing and explaining the interactional micro-level results in a broader socio-cultural context.


For publications from the service domain project, see Publications IVIP.