Ethnomethodology: Sociology and Cuff Et Al.

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 261
  • Published : February 7, 2012
Open Document
Text Preview
Harold Garfinkel

Ethnomethodology is a term coined by Harold Garfinkel in the movement of sociology towards interpretivism. It took place in a marginal relationship to mainstream sociology and was condemned to relevance of approach as in social psychology, but its influence grew regarding questions of social order, as carried out by Garfinkel's once tutor, Talcott Parsons. It means that ordinary people carry out social actions according to their largely practical interpretations of meaning about who and what is around them. This is known as reflexivity of accounts. The way the world is described is part of that world - the description is the reality (see Cuff, 1990, 185). An important concept is indexicality, from Charles Peirce and Y. Bar-Hillel, which means a token takes place in a meaningful context, and thus allows each person to place meaning according to context. Garfinkel uses indexicality and indexical expression to refer to the dependence on context of the meaning of an object, social practice and concept (Baert, 1998, 86), and this is similar to Goffman's situational propriety. People are emotionally attached to interpretation. Whereas Parsons was a large scale theoretical system person Garfinkel focussed on the small scale and much on empirical study. Parsons' functionalism was not particularly interested in motivations as he was interested in society looking after itself through its agents. Garfinkel did emphasise tacit understanding and knowledge of their surroundings; however he and H. Sacks did not judge the validity of sense making (Baert, 1998, 85) - just that people did it and acted on it. It is not a question fo right or wrong interpretations and choices (if choices there are) but just how (Cuff et al., 1990, 185). Garfinkel was influenced by phenomenology from Edmund Husserl and after Alfred Schutz who used it in interpretive sociology. Garfinkel's particular aim was to show that social order was locally produced - "just...
tracking img