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Co-Operative Action
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Book description

Co-Operative Action proposes a new framework for the study of how human beings create action and shared knowledge in concert with others by re-using transformation resources inherited from earlier actors: we inhabit each other's actions. Goodwin uses videotape to examine in detail the speech and embodied actions of children arguing and playing hopscotch, interactions in the home of a man with severe aphasia, the fieldwork of archaeologists and geologists, chemists and oceanographers, and legal argument in the Rodney King trial. Through ethnographically rich, rigorous qualitative analysis of human action, sociality and meaning-making that incorporates the interdependent use of language, the body, and historically shaped settings, the analysis cuts across the boundaries of traditional disciplines. It investigates language-in-interaction, human tools and their use, the progressive accumulation of human cultural, linguistic and social diversity, and multimodality as different outcomes of common shared practices for building human action in concert with others.


'With Co-Operative Action, Charles Goodwin has cemented his legacy as one of the most creative, insightful, and unfettered scholars of human social action in interaction. The effects of his research over four decades are felt in fields from linguistic anthropology to cognitive science to microsociology to digital ethnography to communications. He leaves us with the tools to see how that vision - and, in particular, its core concept, culture - can be causally grounded in the temporally framed experience of co-operative, copresent life.'

N. J. Enfield Source: American Anthropologist

'In his new book, Co-Operative Action, Goodwin synthesizes a large portion of work over his career, making a broader argument that is only possible through the breadth of instances and depth of analyses presented.'

Danielle Teodora Keifert and Ananda Maria Marin Source: Cognition & Instruction (

'This is a substantial and impressive text … Through Co-Operative Action Goodwin has left us an integrated vision of human capacities, and indeed of what it is to be human, and to my mind this impressive book helps realize that vision as an example of collaborative co-operative action in its own right. This book is more than just a tour de force, therefore, it is something to be taken up and put to work for new ends.'

K. Neil Jenkings Source: Symbolic Interaction

'The book provides a wealth of insights into the particulars of what it means to be a human being in a world of others. It leaves the reader with a new understanding of the pervasive and specific nature of human cooperation and co-action, and it provides detailed insights into the diversity of semiotic resources available to us in interaction.'

Johanne S. Philipsen Source: Journal of Pragmatics

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