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Servicing the body: placing glasses on the client’s head at the opticians

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Brian L. Due, Dirk Vom Lehn, Helena Webb, Christian Heath, Johan Trærup

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalVisual Studies
Published1 Jan 2020

King's Authors


Various forms of service work rely upon personnel undertaking activities that necessitate close, and in some cases potentially intimate, contact with a client’s body. In this paper, we consider the ways in which opticians place and position glasses on the head of their clients and how they avoid, or at least ameliorate, the problems and sensitivities that might arise in this close encounter with the co-participant. The paper is based on the analysis of a substantial corpus of video-recordings, augmented by field work, undertaken both in UK and Denmark. The analysis draws on ethnomethodology and conversation analysis and contributes to our understanding of the interactional accomplishment of body work and embodied conduct and to the growing corpus of research concerned with ‘multimodality’ and the social organisation of service encounters.

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