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Doing Introductions: The Work Involved in Meeting Someone New

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As the gateway to personal social relationships, introductions are critical to sustaining everyday social life. This article provides the first detailed empirical analysis of naturally occurring introductions, elucidating the interactional work participants do to achieve a sequence as an introduction. Close examination of video recorded introductions between English-speaking persons coming together to socialize and/or do work reveals that: when a known-in-common person is present, parties treat mediator-initiated introductions as preferred over self-initiated introductions; when launching introductions, offers of identifying information are strongly preferred over requests; in formulating introducible persons, speakers select from many possible name forms and social categories/identities; and parties hold themselves and others accountable for a display of remembering persons with whom they have worked through introductions. This research thus demonstrates that, during introduction sequences, participants locally manage social norms fundamental to the maintenance of “face,” interactional affiliation, and social solidarity.
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Keywords: Introductions; Opening Face-to-Face Interaction; Preference Organization; Social Solidarity; Unacquainted Persons

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-03-01

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