Reclaiming agency in resident–staff interaction: A case study from a Japanese eldercare facility

Peter Backhaus*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines the problem of agency in resident–staff interaction in a Japanese eldercare facility. Data were collected during the morning care routines and analysed within the framework of Conversation Analysis. Focusing on the openings and closings, I show that the interactions in the setting under observation are marked by a clear dominance of the care workers. This becomes most obvious at the level of the turn-taking system, where the first pair part of a new sequence is commonly delivered by a care worker, thus assigning a mainly reactive role to the residents. However, the data also contain instances where this pattern is broken up by a reversal of the turn structure. I show how this sequential re-organisation enables a resident to take a more proactive role in determining the relevant next action, arguing that there is much potential for higher resident agency even in routine interactions such as the morning care activities. I also discuss the practical implications of these findings for care communication in general.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-220
Number of pages16
JournalDiscourse Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Apr 1


  • Agency
  • Conversation Analysis
  • Japanese
  • care communication
  • closing
  • eldercare
  • first pair part (FPP)
  • institutional interaction
  • opening
  • second pair part (SPP)
  • turn taking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics and Language


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