Contemporary articles citing Garfinkel H (1967) Studies Ethnomethodo
order, concept, others, action, context, life, sociologists, lack, intersubjectivity, interaction
- Tavory, Iddo. 2011. "The Question of Moral Action: a Formalist Position*." Sociological Theory. 29:4 272-293.
- This article develops a research position that allows cultural sociologists to compare morality across sociohistorical cases. In order to do so, the article suggests focusing analytic attention on actions that fulfill the following criteria: (a) actions that define the actor as a certain kind of socially recognized person, both within and across fields; (b) actions that actors experienceor that they expect others to perceiveas defining the actor both intersituationally and to a greater extent than other available definitions of self; and (c) actions to which actors either have themselves, or expect others to have, a predictable emotional reaction. Such a position avoids both a realist moral sociology and descriptive-relativism, and provides sociologists with criteria for comparing moral action in different cases while staying attuned to social and historical specificity.
- Fontdevila, Jorge, M. Opazo & Harrison White. 2011. "Order at the Edge of Chaos: Meanings From Netdom Switchings Across Functional Systems." Sociological Theory. 29:3 178-198.
- The great German theorist Niklas Luhmann argued long ago that meaning is the central construct of sociology. We agree, but our scheme of stochastic processes-evolved over many years as identity and control-argues for switchings of intercalated bits of social network and interpretive domain (i.e., netdom switchings) as the core of meaning processes. We thus challenge Luhmann's central claim that modern society's subsystems are based on communicative self-closure. We assert that there is refuting evidence from sociolinguistics, from how languages are put together and how languages' indexical and reflexive devices (e.g., metapragmatics, heteroglossia, genres) are used in social action. Communication is about managing indexicalities, which entail great ambiguity and openness as they are anchored in myriad netdom switchings across social times and spreads. In contrast, Luhmann's concept of communication revolves around binary codes governed recursively and algorithmically within systems in efforts to reduce complexity from the environment. We conclude that systems closure does not solve the problem of uncertainty in social life. In fact, lack of uncertainty is itself a problem. Order is necessary, but order at the edge of chaos.
- Silver, Daniel. 2011. "The Moodiness of Action." Sociological Theory. 29:3 199-222.
- This article argues that the concept of moodiness provides significant resources for developing a more robust pragmatist theory of action. Building on current conceptualizations of agency as effort by relational sociologists, it turns to the early work of Talcott Parsons to outline the theoretical presuppositions and antinomies endemic to any such conception; William James and John Dewey provide an alternative conception of effort as a contingent rather than fundamental form of agency. The article then proposes a way forward to a nonvoluntarist theory of action by introducing the notion of moodiness, highlighting how the concept permits a richer conceptualization of actors' prereflexive involvement in and relatedness to nonneutral, demanding situations. Effort is reconceptualized as a moment in a broader process of action, where the mood is fragile and problematical. Finally, the article draws all of these elements together in an outline of a unified portrait of the pragmatist action cycle that includes both creativity and moodiness as essential moments.
- DiCicco-Bloom, Benjamin & David Gibson. 2010. "More Than a Game: Sociological Theory From the Theories of Games." Sociological Theory. 28:3 247-271.
- Sociologists are fond of game metaphors. However, such metaphors rarely go beyond casual references to generic games. Yet games are little social systems, and each game offers a distinctive perspective on the relationship between rules and constraints, on the one side, and emergent order, on the other. In this article, we examine three games-chess, go, and (Texas hold `em) poker-for sociological insights into contested social arenas such as markets, warfare, politics, and the professions. We describe each game's rules and emergent properties, and then offer a brief theorization of the social world through the ``lens'' of that game. Then we show how a study of the three games advances the sociology of strategy by enriching ideas about skill, position, and strategic dilemma.
- Reich, Wendelin. 2010. "Three Problems of Intersubjectivity-and One Solution." Sociological Theory. 28:1 40-63.
- Social thinkers often use the concept of intersubjectivity to mark out a problem of theoretical sociology: If people are unable to look into each others' minds, why do they often understand each other nonetheless? This issue has been debated extensively by philosophers and sociologists in three largely disconnected discourses. The article investigates the three discourses for isolable ideas that can be fitted into a sociological answer to the problem of intersubjectivity. An interactional solution, fully coherent with key insights from the discourses, is offered at the end of the article. Its main point is to identify coordinative interactional mechanisms that compel participants to ``make themselves understandable'' vis-a-vis their interaction partners.
- Jerolmack, Colin. 2009. "Humans, Animals, and Play: Theorizing Interaction When Intersubjectivity Is Problematic." Sociological Theory. 27:4 371-389.
- Simmel (1949) argues that humans have an ``impulse'' toward sociability, defined as noninstrumental, playful association that is enjoyed as an end in itself. While sociability as conceived of by Simmel necessitates a shared definition of the situation, recent studies problematize symbolic interactionist assumptions by documenting the ways humans engage in analogous sociable play with animals. Drawing from ethnomethodological and pragmatist perspectives, this article offers a way to theorize human-animal encounters and their relationship to interactions among humans. Beginning with a conceptualization of play as an interpretive frame (Goffman 1986) that actors can employ to organize situated interactions, this article argues that humans can engage in playful associations with animals even if animals do not share in the play frame. It illustrates how play with animals can preserve some of the forms and satisfactions of interaction with humans, and it clarifies how interaction can be coordinated and understood when we cannot assume that interactants share intersubjectivity. The article concludes by offering a tentative set of conditions that structure the possibilities of sociable play, based on the degree of potential intersubjectivity and other situational factors.
- Scott, Susie & Charles Thorpe. 2006. "The Sociological Imagination of R. D. Laing." Sociological Theory. 24:4 331-352.
- The work of psychiatrist R. D. Laing deserves recognition as a key contribution to sociological theory, in dialogue with the interactionist and interpretivist sociological traditions. Laing encourages us to identify meaningful social action in what would otherwise appear to be nonsocial phenomena. His interpretation of schizophrenia as a rational strategy of withdrawal reminds us of the threat that others can pose to the self and how social relations are implicated in even the most ``private'' and ``internal'' of experiences. He developed a far-reaching critical theory of the self in modern society, which challenges the medicalization and biochemical reduction of human problems. Using the case of shyness as an example, the article seeks to demonstrate the importance of Laing's theories for examining the fragility of the self in relation to contemporary social order.
- Hoffman, SG. 2006. "How to Punch Someone and Stay Friends: an Inductive Theory of Simulation." Sociological Theory. 24:2 170-193.
- One way to study ontology is to assess how people differentiate real activities from others, and a good case is how groups organize simulation. However, social scientists have tended to discuss simulation in more limited ways, either as a symptom of postmodernism or as an instrumental artifact. Missing is how groups organize simulations to prepare for the future. First, I formulate a definition of simulation as a group-level technique, which includes the qualities of everyday ontology, playfulness, risk and consequence reduction, constrained innovation, and transportability. Next, I use ethnographic data collected at an amateur boxing gym to argue that simulations simplify the most risky, unpredictable, and interpersonal aspects of a consequential performance. The problem is that a simulation can rarely proceed exactly like the reality it is derived from. For example, boxers hold back in sparring but should not in competition. The effectiveness of a simulation therefore depends on how robust the model is and how well members translate the imperfect fit between the contextual norms of the simulation and its reality.
- Segre, S. 2004. "Ethnomethodology in Italy." Sociological Theory. 22:4 647-661.
- This article provides an overview on works that have come out in Italy in the field of ethnomethodology. General introductory works are considered first, with reference to their similarities and differences. Subsequently, the interpretations and discussions concerning the ethnometholological perspective are briefly presented, and the limited amount of empirical investigations on ethnomethodological questions is mentioned. Garfinkel's ethnomethodology has been the object of a few specific introductory and interpretative contributions. The relationship between ethnomethodology and sociolinguistics has been a further and distinct research theme. Discourse and conversational analysis as a research field of its own has elicited a remarkable flow of research, which is-in contrast to ethnomethodology-not only methodological and epistemological but empirical as well. In particular, a number of authors have studied asymmetrical conversational exchanges in the institutional context provided by an Italian Court of Justice. Conversational analysis also has been instrumental in studying the production of social identity. In the final discussion, some theoretical points Italian students of ethnomethodology and the related disciplines have raised and discussed are presented in a condensed form.
- Misztal, BA. 2001. "Normality and Trust in Goffman's Theory of Interaction Order." Sociological Theory. 19:3 312-324.
- The article asserts that Goffman's concept of normality comes close to the notion of trust as a protective mechanism that prevents chaos and disorder by providing us with feelings of safety, certainty, and familiarity. Arguing that to account for the tendency of social order to be seen as normal we need to conceptualize trust as the routine background of everyday interaction, the article analyzes Goffmans concepts of normal appearances, stigma, and frames as devices for endowing social order with predictability, reliability, and legibility. For Goffman, normality is a collective achievement, which is possible because of the orderliness of interactional activities, which is-in turn-predicated ``on a large base of shared cognitive presuppositions, if not normative ones, and self-sustained restraints''.
- Rawls, AW. 2000. "``race'' as an Interaction Order Phenomenon: W.e.b. Du Bois's ``double Consciousness'' Thesis Revisited''." Sociological Theory. 18:2 241-274.
- This article reports on a study of interaction between Americans who self-identify as Black and White that reveals underlying expectations with regard to conversation that differ between the two groups. These differences seem not to have much to do with class or gender, but rather vary largely according to self-identification by ``race''. The argument of this paper will be that the social phenomena of ``race'' are constructed at the level of interaction whenever Americans self-identified as Black and White speak to one another. This is because the Interaction Order expectations with regard to both self and community vary between the two groups. Because the ``language games'' and conversational Orders, the ``working consensus'' is substantially different and as a consequence,conversational ``moves'' are not recognizably the same. It will be argued that a great deal of institutional discrimination against African Americans can be traced to this source.
- Collins, R. 2000. "Situational Stratification: a Micro-macro Theory of Inequality." Sociological Theory. 18:1 17-43.
- Burawoy, M. 1998. "The Extended Case Method." Sociological Theory. 16:1 4-33.
- In this article I elaborate and codify the extended case method. which deploys participant observation to locate everyday life in its extralocal and historical context. The extended case method emulates a reflexive model of science that takes as its premise the intersubjectivity of scientist and subject of study: Reflexive science valorizes intervention, process, structuration, and theory reconstruction. It is the Siamese twin of positive science that proscribes reactivity but upholds reliability replicability, and representativeness. Positive science, exemplified by survey research, works on the principle of the separation between scientists and the subjects they examine. Positive science is limited by ``context effects'' (interview: respondent, field, and situational effects) while reflex ive science is limited by ``power effects'' (domination, silencing, objectification, and normalization). The article concludes by considering the implications of having two models of science rather than one, both of which are necessarily flawed. Throughout I use a study of postcolonialism to illustrate both the virtues and the shortcomings of the extended case method. Methodology can only bring us reflective understanding of the means which have demonstrated their value in practice by raising them to the level of explicit consciousness; it is no more the precondition of fruitful intellectual work than the knowledge of anatomy is the precondition of ``correct'' walking.
- Brekhus, W. 1998. "Sociology of the Unmarked: Redirecting Our Focus." Sociological Theory. 16:1 34-51.
- This article suggests that American sociology has developed a defacto tradition in the sociology of the marked that devotes greater epistemological attention to ``politically salient'' and ``ontologically uncommon'' features of social life, Although the ``unmarked'' comprises the vast majority of social life, the ``marked'' commands a disproportionate share of attention from sociologists. Since the marked already draws more attention within the general culture, social scientists contribute to re-marking and the reproduction of common-sense images of social reality This has important analytic consequences. This article argues for developing a stronger tradition in a sociology of the unmarked that explicitly foregrounds ``politically unnoticed'' and taken-for-granted elements of social reality. Three strategies are proposed toward this end: (1) reversing conventional patterns of markedness to foreground what typically remains unnamed and implicit, (2) marking everything by filling in all the shades of social continue so that each shares the same degree of epistemological ornamentation, and (3) developing an analytically nomadic perspective that observes social phenomena from multiple vantage points.
- Rawls, AW. 1997. "Durkheim and Pragmatism: an Old Twist on a Contemporary Debate." Sociological Theory. 15:1 5-29.
- Durkheim's lectures on pragmatism, given in 1913-14, constitute both a significant critique of pragmatism and a clarification of Durkheim's own position. Unfortunately, these lectures have received little attention, most of it critical. When they have been taken seriously, the analysis tends to focus on their historical context and not on the details of Durkheim's actual argument. This is partly because the tendency to interpret Durkheim's theory of knowledge in idealist terms makes a nonsense of his criticisms of pragmatism. It is also due to a lack of serious appraisal of the lectures as series of arguments in their own right.
- Eliasoph, N. 1996. "Making a Fragile Public: a Talk-centered Study of Citizenship and Power." Sociological Theory. 14:3 262-289.
- Understanding how citizens create contexts for open-ended political conversation in everyday life is an important task for social research, The lack of theoretical attention to political conversation in the current renaissance of studies of ``civil society'' and ``the public sphere'' precludes a thoroughly social understanding of civic life. Participant-observation in U.S. recreational, volunteer, and activist groups shows how the very act of speaking itself comes to mean different things in different civic contexts. It shows dramatic contextual shifts-the more public the context, the less public-spirited the discourse. Institutions encouraged groups to avoid public, political conversation. One group challenged the dominant etiquette for citizenship; the others considered talking politics ``out of place'' almost everywhere. The ways groups relate to public speech itself are themselves meaningful; the concept of ``civic practices'' highlights how groups develop not just the power to make a particular political program public, but the power to make the public itself.
- Roth, AL. 1995. "`'men Wearing Masks'': Issues of Description in the Analysis of Ritual." Sociological Theory. 13:3 301-327.
- Since Durkheim ( 1965), the concept of ritual has held a privileged position in studies of social life because investigators recurrently have treated it as a source of insight into core issues of human sociality, such as the maintenance of social order Consequently, studies of ritual have typically focused on rituals' function(s), and, specifically whether ritual begets social integration or fragmentation. In this frame, students of ritual have tended to ignore other equally fundamental issues, including (1) how actions, or courses of action, constitute a ritual, and (2) whether ritual is best understood as an aspect of all social action or a specific type of it. Drawing on Durkheim's overlooked contemporary, Van Gennep ( 1960), I argue that analyses of ritual must describe how participants enact an occasion as ritual through distinctive activities and sequences of these. Analysts of ritual must attempt to ground the relevance of their descriptions in the participants' demonstrable orientations, an undertaking with move general implications for the study of social action.
- LENGERMANN, PM & J NIEBRUGGE. 1995. "Intersubjectivity and Domination - a Feminist Investigation of the Sociology of Schutz,alfred." Sociological Theory. 13:1 25-36.
- This paper argues the case for a renewed interest in Schutz's work by extending his theory of the conscious subject to the feminist concern with the issue of domination. We present a theoretical analysis of the subjective and intersubjective experiences of individuals relating to each other as dominant and subordinate; as our theoretical point of departure we use Schutz's concepts of the we-relation, the assumption of reciprocity of perspectives, typification, working, taken-for-grantedness, and relevance. Schutz's sociology of the conscious subject is striking in its lack of any extended consideration of power; perhaps one reason why support for his work has diminished since the mid-1970s. Our overlayering of feminist sociological theory's interest in domination with Schutz's concerns about subjectivity and intersubjectivity produces an elaboration and a critique of Schutz and expands feminist understanding of relationships of domination.
- COHEN, IJ & MF ROGERS. 1994. "Autonomy and Credibility - Voice as Method." Sociological Theory. 12:3 304-318.
- Although little noticed by practicing theorists, narrative voice influences theoretical work. This essay presents a demonstration of voice as method, concentrating on brief segments of works by Garfinkel and Goffman. We attend to two methodological themes: how theorists use voice to establish intellectual autonomy, and how the use of voice influences credibility with readers. Garfinkel maximizes his autonomy by using narrative techniques that isolate him from his readers, and produce little common context with them as a result. Goffman maintains a context for credibility with his readers by using a personal voice, but he uses this voice to request their indulgence as he follows his autonomous muse. Goffman's narrative self-indulgence prevents him from fashioning a coherent theoretical program for his readers, something Garfinkel's distant voice enables him to achieve.