ethnomethodology

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ethnomethodology

The theoretical and specialist approach within sociology, initiated by Harold GARFINKEL, which sets out to uncover the methods (members’ methods) and social competence that we, as members of social groups, employ in constructing our sense of social reality Ethnomethodologists claim that mainstream sociologists have failed to study, or even to show any awareness of, members’ possession of social competence, treating members merely as ‘cultural dopes’, rather than acknowledging that social reality is created by individuals.

For ethnomethodologists, social reality is always to be seen as the ‘rational accomplishment’ of individuals. Whereas conventional sociologists, e.g. DURKHEIM in Suicide or the symbolic interactionists, are seen as taking actors’ capacity to construct ‘meanings’ merely as an unexamined ‘resource’, ethnomethodology makes the ‘methods’ and TACIT KNOWLEDGE that members possess into a ‘topic’ for analysis. What ethnomethodologists seek to do is to analyse the ACCOUNTS provided by members in particular contexts (hence the extensive use of transcripts of ordinary conversation). In this, there are some similarities and continuities with SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISM. Beyond this, however, ethnomethodologists have sought to reveal the more universal recurring members’ methods involved in ‘doing’ social life, e.g. organized ‘turn-taking’ in talk (see also CONVERSATION ANALYSIS, SACKS).

While ethnomethodology claims to have arrived at universal generalizations, the form of these generalizations (e.g. indicating a persistent indexicality (see INDEXICAL EXPRESSION) in members’ accounts) suggests that the type of generalizations traditionally sought by sociology are unlikely to be achieved, or at least the claims for them are premature. By the same token, many of the research methods and assumptions about method and measurement in conventional sociology are criticized by ethnomethodologists as involving MEASUREMENT BY FIAT (see A. Cicourel, 1964).

Although ethnomethodology was at first presented as an alternative to conventional sociology, the insights drawn from it have in many instances been incorporated into more mainstream approaches, notably in the work of Anthony GIDDENS (1976a and subsequently) – see also STRATIFICATIONAL MODEL OF SOCIAL ACTION AND CONSCIOUSNESS, DOUBLE HERMENEUTIC. By far the best general overview of ethnomethodology is J. Heritage, Garfinkel and Ethnomethodology (1984). See also FIXED-CHOICE QUESTIONNAIRES, AGGREGATE DATA ANALYSIS. OFFICIAL STATISTICS. PRACTICAL REASONING.

References in periodicals archive ?
However, his ethnomethodological approach does not offer adequate theoretical clarification of the sources of motivated necessity in the observed pattern; that is, of any level of determination beyond the presumed tacit rule-governedness of interaction (backed by a conventional sociology of subsistence).
In this first, preliminary, analytic effort at addressing the ethnomethodological question, I wish to do no more than examine one case of the achievement of the beginning of a university class.
The cognitive as social: An ethnomethodological approach to writing process research.
The structure of the camp reminds me of the early ethnomethodological experiments that tried to determine the way we construct reality--creating chaos to see how order is re-established.
Kessler and Wendy McKenna, in Gender: An Ethnomethodological Approach (New York: Wiley, 1978), demonstrate the alignment of female and not-male in contrast to male.
He offers separate sections on methods of textual analysis, covering semiotic analysis, rhetorical analysis, ideological criticism, and psychoanalytic criticism; qualitative research methods, covering interviews, historical analysis, ethnomethodological research, and participant observation; and qualitative research methods, covering content analysis, surveys, experiences, and descriptive statistics.
Husserl's Criticism of Reason: With Ethnomethodological Specifications.
The consideration of ethnomethodological analyses of headlines, signs and maps that privilege use by human subjects in social situations over speculative, text-based interpretation anticipates the shift in the next chapter towards a more comprehensive analytical method for visual data.
Jill Woodilla likewise goes beyond the traditional focus on the instrumental value of talk to promote a way of analyzing workplace conversations that draws upon ethnomethodological sociology, pragmatic linguistics, and critical language/literacy theory to expose the socializing actions performed by talk.
Empirical research carried out within an ethnomethodological frame in the 1960s and 1970s, such as Bittner's (1967) classic study of the police on skid row and Zimmerman's (1971) investigation into case workers in a social security organization, exemplified a radically subjective/micro-level approach that rejected a focus on structural phenomena as legitimate research interests in their own right.
Using the ethnomethodological critique of a rule-based conception of culture, Shearing and Ericson (1991) have argued that rather than being socialized into, and guided by, the police culture in their work activities, police officers are active in constructing and making references to the culture as guiding their actions.