In a rather less conventional manner, conversation analysis has been used to explore power relations expressed through conversation. MichaelToolan (1989) undertook conversation analysis designed to explicate power struggles within discourse, be it of real or fictional participants.
Toolan's approach modified conventional conversation analysis. He identifies different types of conversational moves, which demonstrate how topics can be carried forward or suppressed in conversation. He lists five types of conversational moves that are useful in analysing fiction. A 'move' is roughly equivalent to a 'turn' in conversational analysis, usually concurrent with speaker change.
An opening move introduces a new topic.
A supporting move concurs with the previous move and sustains the topic.
A challenging move suppresses the topic under discussion.
A bound-opening move enlarges upon the topic under discussion.
A reopening move reinstates a topic that has been challenged.
Within a move, four different possible types of acts may occur.
An 'elicitation'is usually a question eliciting a linguistic response but occasionally it may be a command requesting a linguistic response; for example, "What time is it?" or "Tell me the time."
An 'informative' is usually a statement whose sole function is to provide information. The appropriate response is the giving of attention and indication of understanding.
A 'directive' is usually a command requesting a non-linguistic response.
An 'accusation' is usually a statement, question or command requesting an apology or an excuse.
Kitzinger and Frith (1999), for example, showed that 'Just say No' advice to potential victims of date rape is misguided, given the conversational complexity of declining invitations, assessments, and offers. In each case a conversational power position is maintained. In general, conversation analysis can indeed reveal the operation of power in actual conduct.