The Key Situation Revisited

Poveda, D. (2017). The key situation revisited. EDiSO Working Papers n° 2, 1-21.

(Shortened summary) This paper is very much an opportunity to share some thoughts on the key situation (Gumperz and Cook-Gumperz, 1982) or gatekeeping encounter (Erickson, 1975). I focus on two relatively recent research experiences discussing how key/gatekeeping situations became an important part of the theoretical apparatus. This happened for two reasons: (1) against my expectations or hypotheses the identified «key situations» did not point towards analytically relevant or socially consequential interactional events; or (2) when I did not expect the premises of a gatekeeping encounter could come into operation they emerged quite forcefully and visibly. This, in turn, opened the door to re-considering some basic assumptions behind the classic micro-ethnographic and interactional sociolinguistic research program regarding the organization of «complex» bureaucratic societies, the role of meritocracy in contemporary (post)-industrialized social life and the place of the interactional encounter in the organization of social inequalities. Keywords: Microethnography, Interactional sociolinguistics, gatekeeping

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