This article is an introduction to the theoretical and methodological backgrounds of
multimodal (inter)action theory. The aim of this theory is to explain the complexities
of (inter)action, connecting micro- and macro levels of analysis, focusing on the social
actor. The most important theoretical antecedent, mediated discourse analysis (see
Scollon 1998, 2001b), is presented with its key concepts mediated action and modes.
It is shown how action is used as the unit of analysis and how modes are understood
in multimodal (inter)action analysis – as complex cultural tools, as systems of
mediated action with rules and regularities and different levels of abstractness. Subsequently,
methodological basics are introduced, such as lower-level, higher-level and frozen
action; modal density, which specifies the attention/awareness of the social actor; and
horizontal and vertical simultaneity of actions. Horizontal simultaneity can be plotted on
the heuristic model of foreground-background continuum of attention/ awareness. Vertical
simultaneity of actions comprises the central layer of discourse (immediate actions), the
intermediate layer (long-term actions) and the outer layer (institutional or societal contexts).
In short, it is sketched how multimodal (inter)action analysis aims to answer questions
about the interconnection of the different modes on a theoretical as well as on a