Ethnomethodology

Who are the main thinkers of ethnomethodology?
Harold Garfinkel and Harvey Sacks.

What is ethnomethodology?
The study of methods we use in interaction that make social order possible.

What do ethnomethodologists reject?
The idea that people can have a flawed view of social reality. People are not ‘cultural dopes’.

What did ethnomethodologists argue about traditional sociology?
That it overlooks and neglects every day life.

What did Harold Garfinkel (1967) argue?
Social reality is constructed, it is not a real objective thing.

What are the two strands of ethnomethodology?
Studying every day life.
Conversation analysis: analyses the structures of conversation.

What are accounts?
Explanations of our behaviours.
Actions may be mundane or routine but they are in need of explanation.

What type of experiments do ethnomethodologists use?
Breaching experiments.
Harold Garfinkel, lodger/border breaching experiment.

In Harold Garfinkel’s experiment, what were the conclusions?
That people try to explain abnormal behaviours in every day life. For example, the family thought their child was ill or stressed.

What are some examples of breaching experiments in the media?
Trigger Happy TV and Punk’d.

What is indexicality?
How things have different meanings in different contexts.

What was Harold Garfinkel’s study of Agnes?
Raised questions concerning whether our gender is biologically determined.

Agnes was feminine etc, she had learned how to act like a woman. Agnes learned how to act like a woman by following patterns of behaviour associated with it.

What is conversation analysis?
The analysis of conversation, such as words, pauses, fillers, hesitations, intonation etc.

Zimmerman, 1988.

What is sequential organisation?
Conversations are sequential; they follow on from each other.
The ‘tying’ of words operates from utterance to utterance.

What are some criticisms of ethnomethodology?
Focuses on ‘trivial’ matters.
How are these meanings constructed?
Too positivist?
Internal motivations are ignored.

What did Heritage argue?
Conversation analysts are only interested in the ‘architecture of subjectivity’ rather than intersubjectivity itself.

What did Richard Fitzgerald and William Housley’s (2002) work on conversation analysis explore?
Radio phone-ins.
Sequential conversation analysis.
Membership categorisation analysis.

What does the idea of a host and a caller suggest?
The dynamics. Membership categorisation? Belong to the same device? Lexical field?

What is membership categorisation analysis?
How members use categories to organise interaction/s.

What is Harvey Sacks’ example?
“The baby cried. The mommy picked it up”.
The ‘baby’ and the ‘mommy’ belong to the member categorisation device of ‘the family’.

According to Harvey Sacks (1995), what is the economy rule?
By using one category from any device a person is adequately referencing a person.

What is the consistency rule?
If one person has been categorised under a particular device, other members of that population can also be categorised within the same collection.

What is ‘hearer’s maxim’?
Showing consideration to others in conversation.

What are some criticisms of Ethnomethodology?
Ian Craib: too trivial, we know most of the findings by using commonsense.
If social reality is just a construct, why should we believe the ethnomethodology theory?
Can everyone construct meaning? Marxists argue that constructs are ruling class ideology.