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.

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
References in periodicals archive ?
Such a perspective has been further elaborated upon by the ethnomethodologist Harold Garfinkel (1963), who notes that trust is a "condition of stable concerted actions" necessary for the seamless flow of all day-to-day social interactions.
Ethnomethodologists have a long-standing interest in how members organize and make sense of their environments, including orientations to, or uses of, geographic concepts or concerns.
In coming to the view of social constructionist practice I previously wrote about (e.g., Lock & Strong, 2010; Strong, 2014a), I became interested in the approaches to meaning and social interaction taken up by ethnomethodologists (e.g., Garfinkel, 1967; Heritage, 1984) and social practice theorists (e.g., Nicolini, 2013; Schatzki, 2002, 2010).
This type of analysis has been attempted by some ethnomethodologists who focus on the problematic of everyday practices (see Smith, 1987).
For ethnomethodologists, the analyzability of actions in context as a practical accomplishment is a must.
In comparison to ethnomethodologists, critical realists place relatively more weight on structure.
As Andrew Pickering (1992: 15) notes in his introduction to Science as Practice and Culture, 'Wittgenstein..., with its emphasis on the constitutive embedding of knowledge in social practice--in "language games" and 'forms of life"--has figured as a key resource in the development of science studies since the 1970s' and he goes on to explain that Wittgenstein's account of rule-following is the heart of the issue between ethnomethodologists like Michael Lynch (1992a, b) and practitioners of SSK like David Bloor (1992).
Ethnomethodologists study how ordinary people make sense of their everyday activities.
A second, based on the work of conversation analysts, ethnomethodologists, and others, understands dialogue to refer to the intricacies of human conversation.
(7) Ethnomethodologists refer to them as "folk typifications" that are used by people, regardless of their level of education or occupational training.
Iago engages in what ethnomethodologists refer to as a side sequence.