The study of conversation as a serious field of inquiry began in the1970s when sociologists Harvey Sacks, Emmanuel Schegloff and Gail Jefferson first turned our attention to the way people talk to each other. Interestingly, they began looking at talk not for the sake of talk itself but instead as a way to understand social interactions. They collected samples of conversations and analyzed them to help answer questions that sociologists (not necessarily linguists) are interested in answering. For instance, how do people manage their daily lives through talk? How do people establish, maintain, improve and end relationships with each other by using talk? How do people create and recreate social rules for themselves, their families, and their communities through talk? Eventually, though, talk itself was no longer viewed simply as a mediating “tool" by which to study other aspects of society. In fact, it became (and remains today) an important subject of investigation in its own right.
Bramlett, Frank, "What are Conversation Systems?" (2003). English Faculty Publications. 46.