The consequences of ocularcentric participation frameworks for the ability for visually impaired people to be mobile in situ

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The consequences of ocularcentric participation frameworks for the ability for visually impaired people to be mobile in situ

Ocularcentrism is when vision is privileged over other senses for reasons of practical organization (Chandler & Munday, 2011). Visual practices of seeing, looking and gazing are important for perception and action-construction but are taken for granted in various ordinary interactional projects. I suggest the concept of “Ocularcentric participation frameworks”, building on Goffman (1974) and Goodwin & Goodwin (2005) occur whenever vision becomes a collectively anticipated resource for joint activity in mobile formations. These types of visual organizations become observable and accountable when visually impaired people are part of the framework. An ocularcentric participation framework is not only an emerging issue for situated members but also a methodological problem that researchers must address in their analyses. The research question is: What methods do sighted members of society apply when trying to achieve intersubjectivity with and adopt a visually impaired member’s perspective in a context of being mobile?

This presentation builds on video data from a larger ethnographic project studying visually impaired people in contexts of new technologies. The presentation will show examples of a visually impaired person being involved in trying a robot-dog (Due, 2021) and I will show how this mobile organization is complicated due to the production of the ocularcentric organization. There are atypical aspects in interaction involving visually impaired people which specifically relates to the problems of visually projecting next actions instead of applying touch as primary sensory resource in interaction.

Based on EM/CA methodology this presentation contributes to studies of vision, perception and complex participation frameworks by showing and discussing the limits of vision in interaction and when conducting analyses. In addition, the presentation contributes to the discussion of the researchers prior knowledge, what Garfinkel and Wieder (1992, p. 182) called the “unique adequacy requirement of methods” that refers to how the researcher must be “vulgarly competent in the local production and reflexively natural accountability of the phenomenon of order he is ‘studying’”. As vulgar competence in atypical populations is almost impossible, this presentation contributes with a more nuanced approach.

Chandler, D., & Munday, R. (2011). Ocularcentrism. In A Dictionary of Media and Communication. Oxford University Press.
Due, B. L. (2021). Robodog. Exploring the Spot robot as a “guide dog” for visually impaired people: Vestibular and proprioceptive sensations as sociality. 6th Copenhagen Multimodality Day 2021: AI in interaction - UCPH, Copenhagen , Danmark.
Garfinkel, H., & Wieder, D. L. (1992). Two incommensurable, asymmetrically alternate technologies of social analysis. In G. Watson & R. M. Seiler (Eds.), Text in context: Studies in ethnomethodology (pp. 175–206). SAGE.
Goffman, E. (1974). Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience. Harvard University Press.
Goodwin, C., & Goodwin, M. H. (2005). Participation. In A. Duranti (ed.).: A Companion to Linguistic Anthropology. Blackwell.

Original languageEnglish
Publication date2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Event18th International Pragmatics Conference - Brussels, Brussels, Belgium
Duration: 9 Jul 202314 Jul 2023
Conference number: 18


Conference18th International Pragmatics Conference
Internet address

ID: 360456716