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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A Pioneer in the Use of Video for the Study of Human Social Interaction: A Talk with Frederick Erickson


In the spring of 2011, Dr. Frederick Erickson retired from his position as George F. Kneller Chair of Anthropology of Education and Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of California, Los Angeles. In this interview, Dr. Erickson recounts his personal interest in the organization of social interaction and those who influenced his work, alongside historical developments in the use of video methods for the close study of human social interaction. He further explains how his use of a quasi-musical transcription method avoids what he considers to be a tendency for logocentrism in empirical studies of face-to-face interaction. The highlight of our conversation with Dr. Erickson is his revelation of an alter identity or “Clark Kent” underneath both his teaching and scholarship. Lastly, we ask the inevitable question, “What intellectual pursuits he will follow upon leaving the Westwood campus” and also seek his advice for future generations of scholars interested in the study of language, interaction and culture.

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