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'Put the Cheetos Down': Camouflaging the Institutionality of an Interaction
Unformatted Document Text:  15 Excerpt 3: “Put the Cheetos down” Carl: ((holding plastic bottle, gazing at it, 1 scrutinizing it)) 2 Jim: Carl put the cheetos down (.) alri:ght? 3 Carl: some na::::sty stuff (.) 4 Tom: º put º (.) put the cheetos down and walk 5 aw[ay (.) 6 Jim: [Cheetos are awe[some (.) 7 Tim: [it’s the secret to his growth man (.) 8 By examining the content of this moment of interaction, one could probably anticipate that this instance occurred in a variety of interactional contexts other than an organizational group meeting (e.g., three friends sitting outside the gym). As we will see though, the interactional work that participants perform in the moment is indeed an orientation to institutional values and norms. In lines 1-2, Carl is orienting visibly toward a plastic bottle. To a certain extent, the bottle becomes his focus of attention (Scheflen, 1976). However, what began as an individual orientation becomes a group focus. In line 3, Jim addresses Carl and asks him to “put the cheetos down.” In and through this utterance, Jim makes visible that he himself was orienting toward Carl’s behaviors. Secondly, Carl’s behaviors surrounding the cheetos are used as a resource for generating talk. In other words, Jim makes audible and available to others Carl’s behaviors while permitting talk to occur about these behaviors; it is an invitation for group talk. Notice here that group members’ behaviors are subject to scrutiny and can be used as a resource for “public” discussion. Furthermore, note the ways in which Jim’s sentence is structured (line 3). Quite simply, it resembles an order performed by a parent and addressed to a child. In fact, Jim identifies the person and proceeds to obligate him to behave in a certain way (line

Authors: Mirivel, Julien. and Tracy, Karen.
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background image
15
Excerpt 3: “Put the Cheetos down”
Carl:
((holding plastic bottle, gazing at it,
1
scrutinizing it))
2
Jim:
Carl put the cheetos down (.) alri:ght?
3
Carl:
some na::::sty stuff (.)
4
Tom:
º
put
º
(.) put the cheetos down and walk
5
aw[ay (.)
6
Jim:
[Cheetos are awe[some (.)
7
Tim:
[it’s the secret to his growth man (.)
8
By examining the content of this moment of interaction, one could probably
anticipate that this instance occurred in a variety of interactional contexts other than an
organizational group meeting (e.g., three friends sitting outside the gym). As we will
see though, the interactional work that participants perform in the moment is indeed an
orientation to institutional values and norms.
In lines 1-2, Carl is orienting visibly toward a plastic bottle. To a certain extent,
the bottle becomes his focus of attention (Scheflen, 1976). However, what began as an
individual orientation becomes a group focus. In line 3, Jim addresses Carl and asks
him to “put the cheetos down.” In and through this utterance, Jim makes visible that he
himself was orienting toward Carl’s behaviors. Secondly, Carl’s behaviors surrounding
the cheetos are used as a resource for generating talk. In other words, Jim makes
audible and available to others Carl’s behaviors while permitting talk to occur about
these behaviors; it is an invitation for group talk. Notice here that group members’
behaviors are subject to scrutiny and can be used as a resource for “public” discussion.
Furthermore, note the ways in which Jim’s sentence is structured (line 3). Quite
simply, it resembles an order performed by a parent and addressed to a child. In fact,
Jim identifies the person and proceeds to obligate him to behave in a certain way (line


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