Moments on the City Bus

A Microsociology of Non-verbal Interaction and Social Coding in Urban Bus Riding.

Primary investigator: Magdalena Vieira, M.A. in sociology and M.A. in cultural anthropology

This ongoing dissertation project is a micro-sociological, ethnographic observation study of non-verbal interaction (body movements, hand, foot, and leg movements), with special focus on how the patterns of these body movements relate to one's apparently white, non-white, older, younger and male or female body. The main focus of the study is, in other words, nonverbal interaction patterns in relation to social positions, race, and age, but also gender.

To investigate this, ethnographic observations are carried out in a limited public place, which in this study, consists of bus stops and one of Uppsala’s city buses. The aim of the project is to map out how everyday, nonverbal interaction looks in interactions characterized as heterogenous or homogenous in terms of race, and related primarily to age. This context will be used to contribute to international sociological and social psychological research on social interaction, race, and age in public places.

The theoretical focus of the project is the development of a social interactionist theoretical framework from interaction ritual theory, combined with specific conceptual apparatuses around nonverbal interaction and communication. Using this theoretical framework nonverbal interaction patterns, rituals, and techniques will be mapped out and analyzed.

The empirical material for this project consists of ethnographic field notes and crosstabs  from 150 hours of participatory observations carried out in different stages of bus riding and from detailed observation protocols. The empirical material is analyzed using analysis tools from reflexive ethnography and the analysis tool Membership Categorization Analysis (MCA).

Grants: The project is funded via a faculty financed doctoral position awarded to the Department of Sociology by Uppsala University’s Faculty of Social Sciences

Advisors: Prof. Sandra Torres & Elin Thunman, Ph.D. (both at Uppsala University)