Ruey-Ying Liu

Ruey-Ying Liu


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Ph.D. in Sociology, UCLA

M.A. in Applied Linguistics, Columbia University

Ed.M. in Human Development and Psychology, Harvard University

B.S. in Psychology, National Taiwan University

Fields of Study

Social interaction; conversation analysis; qualitative methods; child socialization; political communication; healthcare communication


I am a sociologist of human interaction whose primary methodology is conversation analysis (CA). Grounded on Erving Goffman’s view of the interaction order as a coherent domain of social organization, CA offers a theoretical framework and a set of systematic procedures for the empirical exploration of social behaviors as they take place in our everyday lives as well as in institutional settings. Following the CA tradition, I draw on video recordings of naturally occurring interactions and conduct case analyses of interactional practices, which lead to the generalization of interactional norms across cases.

My dissertation examines how childhood is constructed through social interaction. Childhood is commonly conceptualized as a social construct in contemporary sociological research, yet little systematic empirical investigation has been done on precisely how such social construction is accomplished in everyday life. Drawing on video recordings of American and Taiwanese families with young children, I investigate how children are treated as children in their everyday encounters with adults. A general pattern I identified across the dataset is the asymmetrical relationship between children and adults in terms of their rights and responsibilities. For instance, I show that young children are consistently treated as having restricted rights to claim what they know about themselves, whereas parents often assert primary rights to know their children and act on their behalf. In addition to my dissertation research, I also study social interaction as a revealing window into societal institutions with a particular focus on political and healthcare communication.



Liu, Ruey-Ying (forthcoming). Constituting institutional identity in political discourse: The use of the first-person plural pronoun in China’s press conferences. Language in Society.

Liu, Ruey-Ying (2022). Constructing childhood in interaction: How parents assert epistemic primacy over their children. Social Psychology Quarterly. Online First.

Liu, Ruey-Ying (2022). Guiding children to respond: Prioritizing children’s participation over interaction progression. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 55 (2), 184–202.


Tanya Stivers (Chair), Steven Clayman, John Heritage, Giovanni Rossi, Hongyin Tao