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Quantifying the tacit: the imitation game and social fluency

By Harold Maurice Collins and Robert John Evans


This article describes a new research method called the Imitation Game. The method is based on the idea of ‘interactional expertise’, which distinguishes discursive performance from practical expertise and can be used to investigate the relationship between groups that diverge culturally or experientially. We explain the theory that underpins the method and report results from a number of empirical trials. These include ‘proof of concept’ research with the colour blind, the blind and those with perfect pitch, as well as Imitation Games on more conventional sociological topics such as the social relationships between men and women, homosexuals and heterosexuals, and active Christians and secular students. These studies demonstrate the potential of the method and its distinctive features. We conclude by suggesting that the Imitation Game could complement existing techniques by providing a new way to compare social relationships across social and temporal distances in both a qualitative and a quantitative way

Topics: H1
Publisher: SAGE
Year: 2013
DOI identifier: 10.1177/0038038512455735
OAI identifier: oai:
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