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Revisiting significant action and gesture categorization

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journal contribution
posted on 18.02.2020 by Lauren Gawne, Barbara F. Kelly
As the field of gesture studies has developed researchers have created ways of analyzing and categorizing bodily movement phenomena. In this paper we look at whether gesture categorisations have any resonance with the ways that people other than gesture researchers approach bodily movement. Building on Kendon’s (1978) observations that people generally have a consistent attitude towards what constitutes ‘significant action’ we asked 12 participants to conceptualize their own categories of gesture and then analyze a short video that contained a pre-determined variety of bodily movements. We found that non-analysts had a wider conception of what constituted gesture than analysts. In regards to the categorisations of gesture that non-analysts made, there were a range of schemas, which we broadly categorised as being ‘form- based’ and ‘function based’.
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