Hofstetter: Making visible the (ostensibly) invisible

Hofstetter presented a talk at the Linköping IKK’s Högreseminarium series, March 20, 2019.

Thinking and moaning: Making visible the ostensibly invisible

In this presentation, I will present ways in which (ostensibly) inaccessible phenomena are made relevant and accessible by participants in interaction. Phenomena such as thinking are ‘inaccessible’ by virtue of being private. Unless a participant actively works to make thinking available and perceivable, other participants cannot necessarily assume that thinking is currently ongoing. Participants can engage in displays to make private phenomena into public ones; in other words, they use their bodies and voices to make the phenomena available. Participants do this to solve social challenges.

For example, in playing a board game, participants have the problem of displaying attention to taking their turn while debating their strategy. Also in board games, participants have the problem of managing how seriously (vs. how playfully) to react to game events. In rock climbing, participants have the problem of how to convey experiences of the climbing route to their climbing partners (who cannot climb at the same time, and who lack the same body). To solve these problems, participants work to create an intersubjectively available display. My presentation will show how these displays respond to social challenges, and how participants treat these displays as a process of making available something otherwise inaccessible.

I will conclude by reflecting on the work facing the participant vs. the analyst. The participants labour using multimodal resources, especially the body, whereas my work as an analyst primarily involves making these phenomena visible rather than multimodally accessible. I will suggest that this may be insufficient analytically.