Visual identities: choreographies of gaze, body movement and speech in video-based mother–midwife interaction
Introduction The aim of this chapter is to explore the potential of a video-based methodology for theorising identity. Drawing on the theoretical and analytical framework of conversation analysis (CA) and video-based research on mother-midwife interaction (Lomax, 2005), the chapter will explore the role of the visual in mediating social interaction and in the discursive construction of identity. Drawing on sequences of interaction in which mothers talk with midwives about their recent birth experiences, the chapter will examine how particular normative professional and patient identities are accomplished locally and sequentially through co-ordinated gaze, body movement and speech. Mothers and midwives story-telling activity can be understood as a dance through which each subtly displays, through their talk and visual attention to the other, their acknowledgement of, and shifting affiliations to, institutionally defined and wider cultural understandings of birth and mothering and through which particular maternal and professional identities are ‘talked into being’ (Heritage, 1984).