March 15, 2018
Haines 110

The Conversation Analysis Working Group invites you to join us for:

Luis Manuel Olguin (PhD Student, UCLA Department of Sociology): "Counting cash in the service of payment accountability"

 In 2000, the discovery of a set of audio and video recordings portraying acts of political corruption led to former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori’s impeachment and subsequent imprisonment.  By means of a hidden camera, Fujimori’s advisor videotaped his encounters with elite members of Peru’s public and private sectors between 1998 and 2000 (for a detailed account, see Ugaz, 2014).  A handful of these records reveal the plotting and disbursement of million-dollar bribes to five media executives to manipulate the campaign in Fujimori’s favor.  Using these historically-unique videos as sources of data, my master’s thesis explores the interactional procedures by which the government accomplished illegal deals and associations under the Fujimori administration.

In this talk, I introduce the visual records and, following (Jones & Raymond, 2012), I discuss their potential as third-party video data for sociological research.  Subsequently, I will provide a (preliminary) examination of the organization of bribe payments across six videotaped encounters.  Although current research on cash transactions is limited, conversation-analytical studies on monetary exchanges has shown that different ways of manipulating cash affect the composition and recognition of pragmatic and economic action (Llewellyn, 2011a, 2011b, 2015, 2016).  In my analysis, I show that the multimodal organization of counting cash as part of payments is introduced as a practice to balance out epistemic asymmetries and accountability statuses (Robinson, 2016). Although designed as an other-attentive method of disbursement, counting cash fundamentally changes the structure of cash transfers, making cash-recipients accountable for not only taking the cash but for accepting the payment.  This research sheds light on the microstructures of accountability involved in monetary transactions and calls for more work on the study of everyday economic activities.