Steven Clayman

Steven Clayman


Office: 231 Haines Hall


Phone: 310-825-2090

Personal Website

Curriculum Vitae

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My interests span the organization of spoken interaction and its interface with social institutions.

Most of my research has focused on interactions involved in the practice of journalism and mass communication, most notably broadcast news interviews and presidential news conferences.  I am interested in how these interactions are organized, and what their study can reveal about journalism, press-state relations, political communication systems, and the public sphere.

Beyond the domain of broadcast journalism, I am interested in how interaction works in a variety of institutional environments and occupational settings ranging from medicine and law to public safety and commerce.  More broadly still, I am interested in ordinary conversation and the organization of interaction per se – what Erving Goffman termed the interaction order – as an institution in its own right and an elementary form of human sociality.


Ph. D., University of California, Santa Barbara


“The Diversity of Ethnomethodology,” Annual Review of Sociology, 1991 (with Douglas W. Maynard).

“Booing: The Anatomy of a Disaffiliative Response.” American Sociological Review, 1993.

“Gatekeeping in Action: Editorial Conferences and Assessments of Newsworthiness.” American Sociological Review, 1998 (co-authored with Anne Reisner).

The News Interview: Journalists and Public Figures on the Air. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002 (co-authored with John Heritage).

“Questioning Presidents: Journalistic Deference and Adversarialness in the Press Conferences of U.S. Presidents Eisenhower and Reagan.” Journal of Communication, 2002 (co-authored with John Heritage).

“Arenas of Interaction in the Mediated Public Sphere.” Poetics, 2004.

“Historical Trends in Questioning Presidents 1953-2000.” Presidential Studies Quarterly, 2006 (co-authored with Marc Elliott, John Heritage, and Laurie McDonald).

“When Does the Watchdog Bark: Conditions of Aggressive Questioning in Presidential News Conferences.”American Sociological Review, 2007 (co-authored with John Heritage, Marc Elliott, and Laurie McDonald).

Talk in Action: Interactions, Identities, and Institutions.  Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010 (co-authored with John Heritage).

Awards & Grants


National Science Foundation 2001-2003
Project Title: The Evolution of Questioning in Presidential News Conferences

Goal: To chart historical trends in president-press relations over the last half-century, and to isolate the social factors that explain variations in the aggressiveness with which journalists question the president.