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Diversity of Ethnomethodology

Diversity of Ethnomethodology

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Published by Jacquelyn Libatique

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Published by: Jacquelyn Libatique on Mar 23, 2011
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The Diversity of EthnomethodologyAuthor(s): Douglas W. Maynard and Steven E. ClaymanSource:
Annual Review of Sociology,
Vol. 17 (1991), pp. 385-418Published by:
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Accessed: 05/12/2010 01:40
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Annu. Rev.Sociol.1991.17:385-418Copyright?1991byAnnualReviewsInc.All rightsreserved
THEDIVERSITYOFETHNOMETHODOLOGY
DouglasW.Maynard
Departmentof Sociology,UniversityofWisconsin,Madison,Wisconsin53706
StevenE. Clayman
Departmentof Sociology,UniversityofCalifornia,LosAngeles,California90024
KEYWORDS:ethnomethodology,conversationanalysis,theory,cognition,phenomenology
Abstract
Ourpurposeistoreviewthe enormousrangeof ethnomethodologicalresearchfrom the pastthreedecades.Periodically,scholarshaveproducedreviewarticles,monographs,andpositionpapersthat usually promoteorcritiquetheworkof aparticularethnomethodologicalsubfield. Also,textbookandotheraccountsof ethnomethodologysometimes imposeahomogeneityon thefieldthatneglectsthe varioustheoreticalandmethodologicalstrands.Weattempttoarticulatethediversityeach ofthesubfields represents,to clarifydis-tinctionsbetween them,andto demonstrateassumptionstheyshare.The areaswe discussincludetheory,phenomenology,cognition,conversationanalysis,researchininstitutionalsettings,studiesofscience,and appliedresearch.Whiledebatesaboutpropertopicsand methodsof researchwill nodoubtcontinue,underneathsuch debatesarea sharedorientationtoanextant,achievedorderlinessineverydayactivitiesanda commitmenttodiscoveringorganizationalfeaturesofdirect interaction.
INTRODUCTION
Fromthetime that HaroldGarfinkel'spioneeringStudiesin Ethnomethodolo-gywaspublishedin 1967,theenterpriseit startedhasbeensteepedinbothexternaland internal controversy.Despiteexternalcriticismsandpartly3850360-0572/91/0815-0385$02.00
 
386 MAYNARD& CLAYMANthrough internal contentiousness, however, ethnomethodological scholarshave produced a substantialbody of work over the past 25 years. In fact,ethnomethodologyhasspawnedavarietyofdistinctive subfields,and itismore accurateto say that there are several bodies of work,ratherthan asingleenterprise.Years ago, for instance, Zimmerman(1978:6) noted "the increas-ing diversity among ethnomethodologists, with respect to choice ofbothproblem and method." However, commentatorsoftenstill treatethnomethod- ology as a unitaryperspective; in review articles and monographs,theymaypromote or critique the work of a particularethnomethodologicalschoolorsubfield. In an Annual Review article three years ago, Atkinson (1988:459)aptly remarkedthatethnomethodology"isnot ahomogenous field";hehimself, however, mainly described and critiqued justtwosubfields-therecent studies ofworkand conversation analysis.Previousreviewshave thusbeen limitedby design,whereas ourpurposeistoarticulate,to theextentpossibleinalimited space,therangeandvarietyofethnomethodologicalsubfields,toclarify distinctionsbetweenthem,andtoidentify fundamentalassumptionsthey share. We do this by showing how,inaddressing a rangeoftheoreticalandmethodological questions,differentareas of inquiry take up discrete ethnomethodologicalthemes. These includeconsideringwhetherthe propertopic ofinvestigationisperception,cognition,talk,orembodied behavior; howtoconceptualizethe relation betweenin-teraction and social structure;and what roleethnographyshouldplayin thestudy of situated activities.
ETHNOMETHODOLOGYANDTHEORY
Althoughinthe preface to StudiesinEthnomethodology,Garfinkel(1967:ix)acknowledgeshisintellectual debttoTalcott Parsons(andAlfredSchutz,Aron Gurwitsch, and EdmundHusserl),theexact placementof theenterprisewith regardto general social theoryhasremainedelusiveover theyears.Thismaybewhy theory textbooksand othersecondarysourcestend topigeonholeethnomethodologyinthree characteristicsways.' First, theysee ethnometh-odology,concernedwith howpeople constructmeaning or"definitionsof thesituation,"as aversion of symbolic interaction.Second,because definitionsofthe situationemerge from how persons announceandimpartsense-makingperceptionsandperspectivesto oneanother, ethnomethodologyissaid to beindividualistic. Third, ethnomethodologyisunderstoodtohaveemergedas acritiqueof traditionalwaysofdoing sociology.In Alexander's(1987)terms,itwas a "reaction" against functionalist sociologythatsoonassumeda"rebellious and even revolutionarythrust."
'We reviewed several theory textbooks to discern these patterns. These include Alexander(1987), Collins & Mankowski (1972), Johnson (1981), Ritzer (1983), Turner (1986), andWallace & Wolf 1980.

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