Who does Conversation Analysis?

Conversation Analysis has been researched since the 1960s by hundreds of professors or just those interested in how speech works! However, there are three researchers that are seen as more important than the rest. Take a look below to learn about the founders of CA and how they became interested in it.
 
Harvey Sacks
 
Sacks (1935-1975) is often considered to be the founder of Conversational Analysis but he wasn't a linguist! Sacks was a sociologist who studied under Erving Goffman, a prominent sociologist, at University of California, Berkeley, where he received his PhD in 1966. By this time, he had already graduated from Yale Law School, where he met and was influenced by Harold Garfinkel, a famous researcher looking into ethnomethodology (the methods people use in everyday speech.)

 

He became Acting Professor of Sociology in UCLA in 1963 and moved to the University of California, Irvine in 1968. Garfinkel, Goffman and Sacks worked as Fellows at the Centre for the Scientific Study of Suicide in Los Angeles between 1963-4; this was when Sacks became interested in CA. Unfortunately, Sacks died in a car crash when he was 40 years old, leaving only a few published papers but a huge legacy! 
 
Emanuel A. Schegloff
 
Schegloff (1937-) worked closely with Sacks to develop Conversation Analysis. Like others in this field, Schegloff didn't start his academic career as a linguist; he was a Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) where he still works today! Similarly to Sacks, he received his PhD at the University of California, Berkeley and began working with Sacks on some key studies into everyday speech.
 
He is considered today to be the leading researcher in Conversation Analysis and regularly published papers and texts on the subject, leading it to now be studied in countries across the world.
 
Gail Jefferson
 
Jefferson (1938-2008) worked alongside Sacks on CA, focusing mainly on the methods of transcribing recordings. These methods and notations that she has developed are still used today.
 
She attended UCLA in 1965 studying dance, but after taking a class led by Sacks, became interested in sociology and completed her PhD in Social Sciences at the University of California, Irvine in 1972. She held many temporary posts in Universities across the USA, such as the Universities of Massachussetts and Pennsylvania, but did most of her research when she wasn't working for a University and wasn't paid!
 
She died in the Netherlands, just after her 70th birthday and her research into the transcription of recordings are considered vital to linguistics today.