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The Case of Telling the Convict Code


Department of Sociology University of California Santa Barbara, CaZ!fornia



Copyright 1974 in The Netherlands. Mouton & Co. N.V., Publishers, The Hague.
No part of this book may be translated or reproduced in any form, by print, photoprint, microfilm, or any other means, without written permission from the publishers.


Printed in Belgium by NICI, Ghent


The materials for this book were collected while I was employed Department of Corrections. The work was made possible by the support and interest of John Conrad, the Chief of the Research Division at that time. I received much counsel, stimulation, and support from Al Himmelson and Don Miller, my immediate supervisors in the Research Division. I am especially indebted to Don Miller, who was also doing research at the East Los Angeles Halfway House where the study was carried out. The patterns of resident behavior reported in Chapter Three were, in many instances, jointly observed and clarified in discussions between the two of us. The survey materials reported in that chapter are based on a schedule that we jointly designed, and both of us carried out the interviewing. as a research analyst by the Research Division of the California

I also owe a particular debt to the staff of the East Los Angeles
Halfway House. This study could not have been done without their freely given and unstinted cooperation. They not only made the various scenes of halfway house and their own meetings and conferences available to me, but they also spent many patient hours explaining the character of their work to me. I wish to acknowledge my considerable intellectual debt to Professor Harold Garfinkel. Those familiar with his work will recognize in the present research the full extent of this indebtedness. At UCLA, he served as the chairman of my doctoral committee which read the original manuscript (my dissertation) which served as the basis of this book. He also made typing funds


available to me through the project "Decision Making in Common Sense Situations of Choice", which was carried out by Drs. Gar finkel, Churchill, and Sacks and sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Office of Aerospace Research, United States Air Force, under grant number AF-AFOSR-757-67. Some readers may be puzzled by the lack of citation of the writings of Erving Goffman in this work. It is clear to me that his writings have had a considerable impact on the character of my ethnographic observations. Goffman gives the ethnographer what amounts to a set of powerful glasses. This kind of influence is so general that particular textual locations which offer the possibility of citing him rarely permit the clear acknowledgment of the the importance of the intellectual debt. Professors Thomas Wilson and Don Zimmerman, University of California, Santa Barbara, read and commented on the work.

I am indebted to them for their encouragement and criticisms.

Zimmerman's influence is nearly impossible to document. We have been close friends for ten years and have shared much in discussions, in mutual orientations to scholarly problems, and in collaborative research and writing. Ms. Phyllis Bennis made many editorial suggestions and typed the early drafts of this work. Karen Wieder gave the pres ent version of the work a line by line and paragraph by paragraph editing. With her unstinting effort and influence, many serious deformations of the English language and other various obscurities of style were avoided. Those deformations, obscurities, and other infelicities that remain are due to my own stubbornness. While many have contributed to this effort, the author alone bears the responsibility for the study.


Acknowledgments Preface by Don H. Zimmerman. PART I Rules as Explanations of Action. .


History and Organization of the Halfway House. Patterns of Resident Behavior. . . . . . . . .

73 113

The Convict Code as an Explanation of Deviant Behavior PART II An Introduction to an Ethnomethodological Analysis of the Convict Code . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

129 132 167

'Telling the Code': Folk Sociology and Social Reality Persuasion and Reflexive Formulation . . . . . . .

'Telling the Code' as a Guide to Per ception: the Inner Structure of Social Reality . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183


'Telling the Code' as an Exhibition of Order Bibliography Index . . .

215 225 233



Because any theory of social interaction presupposes a theory of signs of some sort, a study that poses fundamental questions for contemporary sociological treatments of interaction may raise critical issues for semiotics as well. This is indeed the case with Professor Wieder's book. A central sociological theorem'r> that social behavior is rule-governed, is subjected to close scrutiny, and important facets of the relationship between norms and conduct which are ordinarily overlooked are brought into clear empirical focus.l As a consequence, Wieder poses a challenge to much of current sociological thought on this matter, and the alternative analysis he proposes constitutes the major contribution of the book. However, invite a the implications of his investigation of a analysis of human social thoroughgoing reconsideration of the nature

semiotic theory appropriate to the

interaction,2 and my remarks will be focused on this aspect.

1 That normative constructs such as value, norm, and role are central resources for sociological accounts of patterned behavior in society is beyond doubt. An early attempt to formulate a consistent rationale for the use of normative constructs in sociological theory is to be found in Parsons (1937). More recently, Wilson (1970a) has examined the 'paradigmatic' (Kuhn, 1962) character of the normative approach to the explanation of social conduct. 2 For the limited purposes of this introduction, Morris' (1964) statement of the semiotic process will be employed to characterize the basic framework of sign-referent relationships as they bear upon sociology and the social sciences. Thus, to the extent that viewpoints critical of Morris' (1964) position
in fact differ significantly from it in their basic logical structure, and in ways pertinent to the kinds of issues raised here, the scope and import of the discussion that follows may require reassessment.



Wieder set out to investigate the operation of a halfway house program designed for parolees previously convicted of narcotics offenses. The aim of the East Los Angeles Halfway House project was to increase the chances of successful parole among this high risk group of felons. As Wieder documents,the program had met with little success, and his presence in the setting as a research sociologist was for the purpose of assessing the reasons for its ineffectiveness. Wieder's findings in this regard (discussed in Part I) are similar to those reported in the substantial literature that has emerged from sociological studies of correctional and rehabilitative organizations. Residents of the halfway house, like convicts in prison, were found to adhere to the 'convict code', a collection of norms (e.g.,'Do not snitch', 'Show your loyalty to the residents', etc.) which systematically blocked the kind of cooperation and mutual trust between residents and staff required for establishing the 'therapeutic community' essential to the rehabilitative aims of the organizatioQ. This initial phase of his investigation is indispensable for what follows it. However,this book is not primarily concerned with the difficulties posed for rehabilitative programs by the operation of a convict code,but rather these difficulties are the empirical background for framing more basic problems. The approach that Wieder takes (anticipated in the first chapter and spelled out in unusually clear terms in Part 11) succeeds in transforming an otherwise standard kind of sociological study of a specific arena of social life into an unqrthodox and illuminating inquiry into lay and professional uses of a normative order as a persuasive explanation of conduct. In Part I, Wieder describes the convict code as a set of maxims or rules which residents,staff,and Wieder himself alluded to, sometimes formulated in part,and often invoked as an account or an excuse in the face of particular,troublesome behaviors. The code was used on those occasions in which participants sought to understand or make clear to others the meaning and



implication of acts or verbal expressions occurring in the setting. In addition, it was employed to locate those acts or expressions which were perceived to be subject to the convict code and thought to be generated by it. Wieder goes on to formulate the code as an explicit system of rules and to show that it demonstrably influenced resident-staff interactions in the ways one would expect if the code, in fact, functioned as a controlling normative order. Up to this point, Wieder's analysis employs the well-established procedure of treating the 'telling of the code' as a kind of layman's description of a set of norms having an existence independent of the teller and the occasion of the telling, thus furnishing the resources for accounting for the social activities observed by the researcher, i.e., he analyzes them as actions in accord with a socially enforced system of norms. It will be useful at this point to examine this mode of explanation more closely, since its implications are central to Wieder's argument. Moreover, the link between semiotics and sociology may clearly be seen in its terms. Wilson ( 1970a) views the attempt to explain patterned social interaction in terms of compliance with rules as giving rise to what he calls the 'normative paradigm' in sociological theory and research. He argues that sociologists, aspiring to the ideal of deductive explanation (the hypothetico-deductive model), employ the construct 'rule' as an empirical term in their theories. The elements constituting this paradigm are displayed in Figure 1.

Normative Paradigm (Wilson, 1970a)


(Situation, occasion

Action) behavior


A 'rule' is to be understood as a linkage between a situation (5) and an action (A), where S is a well-defined class of occasions



(concrete social settings demarcated by distinctive physical and social features) and A is a well-defined class of behaviors (distin guishable movements, gestures, and verbalizations). This for mulation encompasses a wide range of theoretical constructs in sociology and other social sciences, since the linkage between S and A may take the form of learned dispositions (e.g., socialized motives, needs, habits, etc.) or socially sanctioned expectations (e.g., role expectations).3 For example, Wieder notes that residents of the halfway house, by virtue of their common prison experience, were socialized to the code; moreover, they expressed fear of the consequences of violating these shared norms. That rules such as the dispositions and expectations making up the convict code are shared is crucial since: ...if social interaction is to be stable [i.e., if systematic reinforcement or sanctioning is to occur], the different participants must define situations and actions in essentially the same way, since otherwise rules could not operate to produce coherent interaction over time. Within the normative paradigm, this cognitive agreement is provided by the assumption that actors share a system of culturally-established symbols and meanings. (Wilson, 1970a: 699.)


The relevance of semiotic theory to the central sociological concern with rule-governed conduct can now be made explicit. Morris (1964 : 58), in the context of an examination of the relevance of semiotics to the analysis of social systems developed by Parsons (1953), asserts that, "signs ... turn out to be central features of social systems". Social systems are regarded by Parsons (1953) as organized in terms of institutions, which in turn are built up

Wilson (1970a: 699) argues that, "Specific theories based on the normative

paradigm are, of course, formulated in widely varying terminologies and differ from one another in important ways concerning further psychological and sociological assumptions." His point is that the framework provided by the normative paradigm characterizes theoretical positions that on other grounds are considered quite distinct, if not




from systems of roles. Role relationships are conceived of as founded on complementary expectations, i.e., the anticipations that respective role-incumbents have about the


behavior of their partner(s), such as husband vis-a-vis wife as wife, and conversely. The construct

role is, of course, one type

of linkage between situation and action in the normative paradigm sense, i.e., it functions as a rule. At the same time, Morris (1964: 59) concludes that, "role behavior is a type of sign controlled behavior". Thus ; we should examine more closely the relationship between Morris' (1964) semiotic and Wilson's (1970a) formulation of s ociology's central explanatory scheme. In Morris' scheme, a sign must be understood as signifying a

kind of object (1964: 2); hence, the term signification refers to a

class of objects, rather than some particular object. Similarly, Wilson and (1970a) defines situations and actions as classes of

situations actions are silJ...nifications. Further, Wilson's (1970a: 699) actor - paralleling Morris' (1964) interpreter "treats specific
occasions and behaviors, respectively. In semiotic terms,

occasions as instances of situations and concrete behaviors as instances of actions". Consequently, as

occasion and behavior function signs relative to the normative paradigm notion, i.e., their behavior functions as an interpretant relative

occurrence signifies a situation or action. However, there is another complexity: to the semiotic scheme. From the point of view of semiotics, a social act as defined within the normative paradigm involves what might be called a sign sequence'. That is, a particular occasion (sign plus context)4 is recognized by the actor (interpreter) as an instance of some situation (signification). In conformity with a rule, the actor (interpreter) emits some behavior (interpretant) that is seen as an instance of a particular action (another signifi cation). Thus, in a social act, there are two sign-signification relationships: occasion-situation and behavior-actml1. Of course,

It should be noted that Morris (1964) provides a distinction between sign and context which is missing from Wilson's (1970a) scheme, although

such a distinction is clearly called for. Morris' (1964) formulation is, of course, the more general of the two.



the emitted behavior in its context establishes a new occasion that in tum is seen as an instance of a situation which calls forth further responses.5 These relations are displayed in Figure 2.

The Sign Sequence of a Social Act (Wilson, 1970a; Morris, 1964)

Sign Sequence (first part)

Normative Paradigm

Sign Sequence (second part)


SIGNIFICATION - - (Situation, Action) - - SIGNIFICATION SIGN + CONTEXT - - occasion

behavior - - INTERPRETANT; a/so, SIGN + CONTEXT

Actor (Interpreter) Key: t sign-signification relation parallel concepts Capitalized terms semiotic concepts Lower case terms normative paradigm concepts
= - = = =

It is clear that the particular semiotic discussed here can be related in a rather straightforward manner to what Wilson (1970a) claims with good justification to be sociology's basic explanatory model. This compatibility extends beyond the mapping of terms from one system into the other. As indicated earlier, the normative paradigm carries with it the additional assumption of a shared cognitive culture, including language and gestures. If signs exercise control over behavior, then the idea that regular, recurring patterns of behavior enacted by a plurality of actors presupposes that such actors share a common system of signs, at least to some degree. It might be added tbat since the notion of sanctioning (or reinforcement) is crucial to an account of regularity in social behavior, the possibility of evaluation must be built into the concept of action. A behavior (interpretant), triggered by the recognition of a given situation, which itself cannot be rec ognized as signifying the appropriate action linked to that situation (rule) can, thus, be subject to sanction.



Morris' (1955: 36) definition of language provides for most of the essential features of a shared cultural system:
... a language is a set of p!urisituationa! signs with interpersonal signifi cata common to members of an interpreter-family [read: group or culture) and combinable in some ways but not in others to form compound signs. [Emphasis added.]

Or, to paraphrase this definition in a slightly different terminology, a language - or cultural system - consists of a collection of signs that do not substantially alter in their signification across a delimited set of situations. Such signs have the same signification, within a specified population, for both producers and interpreters of signs and are subject to constraints (a grammar) in their combination (i.e., only certain combinations are permitted; others are negatively sanctioned). Keeping in mind that a rule can be understood as a structured relationship of signs and their significata within a sequence, one could speak as ",ell of pI uri situational rules known in the same way by a collectivity of actors. Furthermore, rules, in this sense, specify a 'grammar' of inter action by providing for the sanctioned relationship between a situation and an action within it. One element missing in Morris' (1955) definition relevant to most treatments of the concept of culture is transpersonality (the independence of the system from the actors constrained by it). Culture (like language) presumably remains relatively stable from generation to generation, changing slowly for the most part.


Given the close ties between semiotics and sociology indicated by the preceding discussion, the relevance of Wieder's central thesis in Part II is inescapable. In earlier chapters, he furnishes an analysis of resident behavior in the halfway house. This analysis provides a characterization of the code as a sub-culture, displaying the general properties of a culture: (1) it was thought to be more or less uniformly shared by residents of the halfway house (them-



selves a sub-population of a larger population of convicts);

(2) the maxims of the code were treated as plurisituational rules; (3) these rules were viewed as constraining (i.e., they functioned as an enforced and enf orceable 'grammar' for interactions between
residents and between residents and staff); and (4) it was en countered as trans personal, i.e., it was independent of the successive cohorts of residents passing through the house. That is, Wieder as an observer and analyst, as well as the residents and staff, encountered and treated the code as a shared, plurisituational, constraining, and transpersonal normative order. It has already been indicated that Wieder does not rest with these rather commonplace results, but pushes his analysis well beyond the usual stopping point. He goes on to consider the formulations of the code by residents and staff (e.g., talk about the code, talk about behavior in terms of the code, etc.) and his own ethnographic descriJ}tion, based on these formulations, as events within that setting rather than simply as reports on that setting. That is, he redefines the field of data to include his initial finding (based and built upon the talk done by the 'natives') that the code governed conduct in the setting. This, then, becomes his problematic phenomenon: How do parties to the setting find the code to be the source of, and hence the ready explanation for, the distinctive patterns of behavior found in the halfway house? Wieder's answer to this question poses the fundamental issues for both semiotics and sociology alluded to at the beginning of this preface. He observes, first of all, that the code was made available through talk in the setting. The primary source of the rules, in terms of which particular behaviors were accounted for, were linguistic expressions. That is, in their telling, the maxims of the code were made observable as rules.6It is f rom this observation that the notion

It is worth noting at this point that Wieder is not employing the familiar distinction between 'idealized' and 'actual' norms. His analysis of 'the code' as a kind of verbal activity does not imply that 'the code' is merely talk in the sense that some other, more covert set of rules or other factors 'actually' governed behavior in the setting. His point, as subsequent discussion will



of 'telling the code' springs. Focus on 'telling the code' leads to identifying rules as a phenomenon emerging from the

use of the natural language to organize social settings. The notion that natural language organizes social settings will be examined below. 7
Thus, Wieder's interest in 'talk' is not in the use of language to furnish more or less 'accurate' reports of a specific feature of social reality (namely, the nature and workings of a normative order), but rather it is in the use of language to accomplish that order as a feature of social reality or any occasion within which that topic is addressed.

In their telling on any occasion, the maxims of the code were

observed by Wieder to be employed by staff and residents to collect and

render equivalent an array of otherwise unrelated

behaviors. The sense of structure (e.g., that particular behaviors were the consequence of honoring one or another maxim of the code) was found to be actively accomplished on each occasion by the imaginative work of juxtaposing the behavior with the telling of the maxim. What is more, the code and the behavior it organized were seen to be

reflexively related and, thus, subject

Each particular

to continuous elaboration and modification.

of conduct that staff and residents described as caused by the code (which was never stated 'in fuW, but rather invoked 'in relevant
make clear, is that the matter of rules or norms and their relationship to conduct is essentially a phenomenon of natural language accounts of behavior. 7 Some terminological problems require attention here, however. The term 'natural language' is often used in the context of linguistic and philosophical discourse in contrast to the terms 'artificial language' or 'formal language', the latter two referring to such things as various logical calculi or computer languages. The contrast implied in Wieder's usage (and in ethnomethodological discourse in general) is between the use of 'natural language' to organize social settings and other, alternative principles that might be advanced to account for orderly social interaction, e.g., the operation of cultural or social structural influences (when conceived of as existing prior to, and independently of the setting in question) or 'schedules of reinforcement', etc. Moreove-r, the term 'natural language' is used more broadly to encompass both linguistic, paralinguistic and gestural activities, the focus being the full exercise of native competence by members to jointly accomplish the features of a setting as an intersubjectively shared and sharable state of affairs (cf. Garfinkel, 1967; Garfinkel and Sacks, 1970; Cicourel, 1970).



part', on any given occasion) enriched and extended the possible meanings of the various provisions of the code which, in tum, made possible an even greater scope for those provisions in collecting further instances of behavior as code-governed. What this amounts to is

the finding that the plurisituationality of the

rules of the code is a situated accomplishment, or outcome, of the skilled use of the code, rather than a precondition for its use. That is, the actors' sense of the 'relative constancy' of the meaning of the code for conduct across situations is accomplished


situations; the equivalence of behaviors classifiable as fulfilling the code is a consequence of the use of the code to analyze behavior, rather than a prior achievement, making the code usable for that purpose. Note that in raising this point, Wieder is not denying that the code-in-use appears to users (tellers and hearers) to exhibit plurisituational meanings; nor is he proposing that in some ultimate sense the code (and by obvious extension, any normative order) does not exhibit some form of plurisituationality. What his analysis leads to is a different conception of what could be meant by plurisituationality and an account of how rules (the word 'signs' could be substituted here) come to

achieve pluri

situationality. In Wieder's view, the plurisituationality, as an

experienced feature of normative orders, is an on-going, never

ending accomplishment of the use of natural language expressions to analyze and organize activities in settings where these selfsame expressions are constituents of those activities. Thus, to say that a resident's tardiness in attending a therapy group session scheduled by the halfway house staff is a behavior which 'shows loyalty to' fellow residents' by resisting staff is to render that particular piece of conduct equivalent to past instances of behavior which were analyzed as complying with that rule. By making the equivalence (via use of the rule as the analysis of the meaning of the behavior in question), the present behavior is thus joined with past behaviors analyzed by that rule and 'reaches out' to future behaviors anticipatorily subject to that rule, i.e., the present use retrospectively and prospectively unites an array



of known and yet-to-be-encountered behaviors as the same action. Such a proced ';lre 'demonstrates' (by virtue of having been sucess fully undertaken as one stream of activity on that occasion) that behaviors encountered in the setting are subject to analysis in terms of rules and, thus, are normatively controlled. The reflexive use of natural language makes observable, and thus constitutes, the features of members' social reality. The focus of Wieder's analysis is the accomplishment of pluri situationality by the use of the code as a natural language vehicle for understanding activities in the halfway house. By altering the meaning of plurisituationality, his analysis also alters the meaning of the notion that cultures (or systems of signs) are 'shared', are 'constraining', and are 'transpersonal'. If the relationship of a rule to behavior is achieved in its specifics on each and every occasion of the rule's use, in what sense can we say that a rule is shared by a collectivity? How can we demonstrate that a normative order constrains (and in some sense generates) definite behaviors, if we must await this determination in each and every case? (Cf. Wilson, 1970a: 702-705; and Chapter Eight of this book.) In what sense can a normative order which is 'created anew' on each occasion be treated as transpersonal? The paradoxical flavor of these reflections stems, in part, from the prevailing preference for employing constructs which incorporate these properties in order to furnish a resourl,e for analyzing the par ticulars of social behavior. Wieder's findings would appear to snatch that resource away. Yet it must be reemphasized that it would be a mistake of the first magnitude to suppose that Wieder is arguing that such properties are not

experienced as features of sign systems, e.g.,

he argues that the users of the convict code do experience those properties. He is to be understood as proposing that it is the member of society who, through the use of procedures Wieder describes, methodically assures that his natural language accounts of social conduct display the properties of plurisituationaIity, constraint, transpersonality, and of being shared as a condition of competent talk within and about a society. The details of Wieder's



argument on this point, i.e., that such properties are a member's accomplishment, must be left for a reading of the book itself.


Wieder is led to the treatment which he accords the convict code in light of a growing body of theory and research within sociology that has come to be known as ethnomethodology (cf. Garfinkel, 1967). A few comments from an ethnomethodological standpoint should serve to provide a broader context for Wieder's investi gation. The human sciences, like the natural sciences, make use of the procedure of idealization to organize relevant aspects of the phenomena they address. Such selective, abstract, and logically consistent constructions have proved highly successful in advancing the work of natural scientists.. Attempts to emulate this practice in the human sciences, e.g., linguistics, anthropology, sociology, economics, semiotics, etc., often emerge in the form of a distinction between the observable particulars of actual behavior of whatever type, on the one hand, and a theoretically prior, abstract construction which is assumed to represent some constellation of factors which lie behind and generate certain features of observed behavior, on the other. This theoretical option is exemplified by current distinctions made between language and speech, culture and behavior, lin guistic competence and linguistic performance, and semantics and pragmatics. The convict code, as ordinarily conceived, vis-a vis the behavior of residents, reflects this sort of distinction. Thus, one side of the distinction is an idealization intended to advance the interests of explanation, and the other side is taken as the objective data to be explained. One mtionale for this practice is that it provides a way of explicitly delimiting a set of theoretically relevant dimensions vis-a-vis a field of data viewed as the complex result of the interaction of many different variables, some of which are extraneous to what the theory



proposes to explain.8 Following this approach, research interests in various disciplines are often directed toward constructing a 'model' or theory that represents the essential relationships between the critical variables thought to characterize the pheno menon of interest and, thence, to the determination of the empirical conditions under which the idealized outcomes generated by the model most closely approximate actual observation. Whether couched in quantitative terms (e.g., the proportion of variance explained under specified conditions) or in a system of rules (e.g., a system of 'phrase structure' and 'transformational' rules for generating all and only grammatical sentences in a language, cf. Chomsky,

1965), a necessary consequence is the

suppression of whole classes of data. In the case of the convict code, certain conditions, accounts for some determinable proportion of a view of the code as an idealized system of norms which, under

resident behavior in the halfway house systematically ignores the question of the empirical connection ofa 'rule' with a 'behavior' and, of course, any dat,a that might bear upon that determination. The necessity to distinguish between relevant and irrelevant data must be readily granted. The thrust of these remarks should . not be construed as a general critique of the use of idealizations in theory and research. For any particular idealization, or any class ofideaHzations, however, it is always appropriate to ask whether or not the conception thus advanced (and the 'purification' of data that is its inevitable consequence) compromises the claims advanced for a particular analysis. If, for example, it turns out that the 'extraneous' factors (and their corresponding data) weeded out by a given idealization play a critical role in accom plishing an analysis of the residue of surviving data (and are smuggled in without acknowledgment, or without empirical control), then some further stock-taking is in order:

An argument for this view in linguistics may be found in Chomsky (1965, 1972) and Katz (1966). Critiques of Chomsky's position on this matter' are advanced from a behaviorist perspective by Scott (1971: 52-55), from a 'structuralist' stance in linguistics by Hockett (1967, 1968), and from an etbnomethodologica1 viewpoint by Cicourel (1970).



From an ethnomethodological point of found in many of the human sciences are


idealizations They lead


the theorist to treat his subject matter in such a way as to all but foreclose the investigation of rertain fundamental features of human behavior - specifically, they obscure the possibility that idealization itself is a constituent feature of the activities of human beings in shaping their interpersonal environments. By making certain features of naturally occurring talk and behavior prominent, current idealizations provide no clear way of recognizing the fact (made apparent by ethnomethodological studies, induding Wieder's) that sign use, or rule use, or culture use involves a naturally occurring process of idealization (e.g., the analyzability of conduct by use of rules) as one of its integral features. Ideal ization is an integral feature of sign use, rule use, and culture use in the sense that it is accomplished through the efforts of the users of the idealizations themselves (Garfinkel and Sacks,

1 970).

Thus, ethnomethodologists would contend tbat these ideal izations in the human sciences have ignored the fact that ideal ization occurs naturally within the domain of scientific theorizing and scientific discourse (which is, after all, done from within the world) and takes place as well within the domain of everyday life - in the form of common-sense (cf. Husserl, is a and


(and, of coUrse,

by reference to rules or maxims of the sort discussed by Wieder)

1960: 1 1 1 ; Schutz, 1 962, 1 964). For ethnomethodology

then, 'idealization' (of either scientific or common-sense fonn) Cicoure),

phenomenon for study, not a resource (cf. Garfinkel, 1 967; 1 970; Wilson, 1 970a; Zimmerman, 1970; Zimmerman Pollner, 1 970; and Zimmerman and Wieder, 1 970). Though

ethnomethodologists must themselves idealize their phenomena in some fashion when pursuing an analysis, their approach differs from current constructive theorizing in that their idealizations attempt to incorporate the view that, from the outset, societal members

accomplish the orderly structures of their world (cf. Garfinkel and Sacks, 1 970) via the use of idealizations. The phenomena of interest, then, are what Schutz (1962) refers recognize


to as second-order phenomena, namely, members' idealizations



of their own and others' behavior. (The convict code, as it is told, described, and otherwise employed by the staff and residents of the halfway bouse that Wieder studied, is an example of such a phenomenon.) While it is profitable for the physical scientist to refine common-sense procedures (indeed, to radicalize them) in gaining a purchase on the world of pure (and purified) physical phenomena (cf. Merleau-Ponty, 1964: 66-70), social reality consists of the common-sense, pratical activity of everyday 'idealizations' of the social world and activities within it (cf. Schutz, 1 962; Garfinkel, 1 967; Pollner, 1 970; Wieder, 1970; Zimmerman, 1 970; Zimmerman and Pollner, 1970; Zimmerman and Wieder, 1 970). for etbnomethodologists, idealizations (or rational constructions) of the social world must be recognized as also having the features of being 'done from within the world' and being 'part and parcel of that world', i.e., what Garfinkel ( 1967) calls 'reflexive features'. A consequence of the use of misplaced idealization in the human sciences is that many theories of social science, traditional per ceptual psychology, linguistics, and semantics are often invidiously employed as a standard for judging the consistency, clarity, and coherence of members' thoughts and talk, for judging the veridicality of their perceptions, for judging the rationality of their actions, and for judging the consistency between their words and deeds. For example, sociologists have done innumerable studies purporting to show that societal members fail (or deviate) in their attempts to rationally follow rules in terms of rational rule-following as the SOCiologist posits it to be.9 As mentioned earlier, these procedures motivate a concern

In a somewhat analogous fashion, psychological research often encounters

a lack of 'veridicality' in members' perceptions under a variety of conditions. Often, the assertion of non-veridicality in perception is founded on an idealization of the perceptual process which allows little room for the active, constructive interplay between stimulus input and other levels of cognitive process. What is 'really there' exterior to receptor organs is thus viewed as subject to distortion or error, as opposed to being transformed in lawful ways relative to the multitudinous perceptual tasks that require attention

in the course of coming to terms with an external environment (cf. Neisser,

1967; and Handel, 1972).



on the part of some scientists and scholars to discover the variables which influence the degree to which members approximate the ideal - a strategy which contains a double irony. In the first instance, the comparison inevitably yields a finding that members fall short of the ideal, while, in the second instance, the ideal (at least prototypically) is generated out of a purification of the members' original work - the working of the members' (and the scientists' and scholars') common-sense knowledge of the world. Wieder's study intentionally sidesteps this double irony (although specifically examining some empirical aspects of it) in the interest of examining the features of the 'process of idealization' itself (in the form of 'telling the code') as an integral aspect of the continuous generation of social reality. The role of natural language in generating the societal member's sense of social reality is clearly pivotal. Recall that Wieder proceeds in his investigation by noting that rules, as naturally occurring phenomena (and, by direct analogy, semiosis as a naturally occurring human phenomena), are observable to social scientists and other scholars in and through the societrl members' talk. We can observe rules (as we can observe human semiosis), because societal members 'talk' rules and 'tell' rules, and they do so by making rules evident to each other by talking about rules, although by talking about rules, they simultaneously accomplish or actualize those rules as well. How they do so and with what consequences is one point at issue in Wieder's work. In an analogous way, one could argue that human semiosis is known by humans (including semioticians), because humans were already talking about features of language and about signs prior to the development of any scholarship concerning the matter.10 This is so because of the curious feature of natural language use, which is that the factual existence of a natural language, the properties of that language (in a semiotic sense), and the uses

It would then follow that we can study animal semiotics only by anthro pomorphizing, but this is not a fatal flaw, inasmuch as it would appear that we also understand each other in a similar way by using what Husser! (1960: 108-120) calIs "analogic apperception". Wieder makes a parallel point.



of that language can be described in terms of that selfsame natural language - a property that natural language does not share unrestrictedly with formal languages (Tarski, 1936). That humans recognize their own language as language depends upon this reflexive feature of natural language use. The reflexive features of natural language use (especially natural languae expressions of 'social rules') is one basic theme, finding, and topic for clarification and explication of Wieder's study (cf. the discussion in section III of this preface). By saying that natural language use (or more specifically, naturally occurring expressions of social rules) is reflexive, Wieder, following Garfinkel (1967), means that the expressions are unavoidably and simul taneously both descriptions of orderly human affairs and features of those same affairs which, in and by describing, they make orderly. Natural language use 'makes' human affairs orderly (and is, thus, productive of experienced social reality) by acting as 'embedded instruction' for seeing those affairs as orderly. By 'telling the convict eo4e' (a set of social rules), residents of a halfway house made their 'affairs appear orderly to any outsider who heard their talk and 'employed it as embedded instruction' for seeing those affairs. This is the sense of Wieder's assertion that naturallnguage use organizes social settings. This reflexivity may be seen in the following Il'etaphorical example (see Figure 3).



The names appearing on or in each figure instruct the viewer to see each display in a particular, structured way. They tell the viewer how to see the lines for what they are 'this time'. The names are embedded instructions. Their sense is fulfilled by their placement in juxtaposition with the figures. Although they are



descriptive of the figures, they must 'be there' as aspects of the figures for there to be much likelihood that the figures will be seen in the fashion that they are, in contrast to the other possibilities that the 'lines on the page' offer, e.g., they could be seen as merely lines on the page, or as the left figure indenting and the right figure projecting, or as both indenting, both projecting, both flat, etc. The figures could be seen in the fashion 'called forth' by the instructions found in Figure 3 without the instructions literally being there, but in light of the number of possible alternatives, this predse outcome is not probable. Moreover, when displays involved are human affairs, rather than lines on a page, the possibilities offered by such displays appear to be infinite.

In these brief remarks, it has been possible only to suggest the direction of Wieder's argument and the general nature of his conclusions. I have tried to spell out the significance of Wieder's investigation for a semiotic theory that has relevance to the empirical study of human social interaction. It seems evident that his findings have important implications for semiotics and constitute a major, empirically based challenge to much standard doctrine in the theory of signs, as well as in sociology. To judge the cogency of the argument and the soundness of the conclusions, it is, of course, necessary to tum to the book itself. There can be no doubt, however, that the issues raised in it are important. Santa Barbara, California September, 1972



The idea that human action can be explained by showing that the actors follow rules which 'predict' and explain their action is at once an extraordinarily important idea for social science and is, at the same time, extraordinarily commonplace in common sense thought. In various ways, the idea is foundational for sociology, anthropology, linguistics, and some areas of economics and political science, especially for those works based on game theory. It is, however, of special interest in anthropology and sociology, for in these disciplines rules are generally conceived of as open to observation, and the social scientist's formulation of them is intendedly isomorphic with the societal members' under standing of them. It is most often the case that the sociologist's substantive conception of a rule is based on the members' under standing of that same rule. Sociologists' formuJations, according to Schutz (1962: 6),
... refer to and are founded upon the thought objects constructed by the common-sense thought of man living his everyday life among his fellow men. Thus, the constructs used by the social scientist are, so to speak, constructs of the second degree, namely constructs of the constructs made by the actors on the social scene, whose behavior the scientist observes and tries to explain in accordance with the procedural rules of his science.

In using the idea of rule-governed conduct, the sociologist capitalizes on common-sense thought as a resource for his own observations and theorizing. Zimmerman and Pollner (1970: 84-85) summarize Schutz's writings on this availability of such



ideas as rules within the social world as experienced by those living within it. According to Schutz, the world, as it presents itself to the member operating under the jurisdiction of the attitude of everyday life, is a historical, already organized world .... The member takes for granted that the social world and, more specifically, the aspect of it relevant to his interest at hand, is actually or potentially assembled by rule or reCipe. That is, he may know, or take it that he could determine by inquiry, the rules or recipes whereby he and others might gear into or understand some activity. Put another way, the member assumes that such structures are actually or potentially locatable and determinable in their features by recourse to such. prac tices as asking for or giving instructions concerning a given matter. Everyday activities and the perceived connected features present them selves with the promise that they may be understood and acted upon in practically sufficient ways by competent employment of appropriate proverbs, paradigms, motives, organizational charts, and the like. What are the consequences of employing the same conceptions about the nature of the social world that lay members of the society employ in dealing with their 'practical circumstances? Zimmerman and Pollner (1970: 82) argue, Sociology's acceptance of the lay member's formulation of the formal and substantive features of sociology's topical concerns .makes sociology an integral feature of the very order of affairs it seeks to describe. It makes sociology into an eminently folk discipline deprived of any prospect or hope of making fundamental structures of folk activity a phenomenon. How can the fundamental structures of folk activity be treated as phenomena in their own right and no longer be used as resources? Garfinkel has provided several answers, one of which is phrased in the following terms (1967: vii),
In doing sociology, lay and professional, every reference to the 'real

world' ... is a reference to the organized activities of everyday life. Thereby, in contrast to certain versions of Durkheim that teach that the objective reality of social facts is sociology's fundamental principle, the lesson is taken instead, and used as a study policy, that the objective reality of social facts as an ongoing accomplishment of the concerted activities of daily life, with the ordinary, artful ways of that accomplish-



ment being by members known, used, and taken for granted, is, for members doing sociology, a fundamental phenomenon . . . . Ethno methodological studies analyze everyday activities as members' methods


making those same activities visibly-rational-and-reportable-for

all-practical-purposes, i.e., 'accountable ', as organizations of common place everyday activities.

These interests were further specified by Garfinkel in his recommendations for making pratical actions accessible to study as 'pure' topics of inquiry. One of these recommendations (1967 : 33) was that,
. . . any social setting be viewed as self-organizing with respect to the intelligible character of its own appearances as either representations of or as evidences-of-a-social-order. Any setting organizes its activities to make its properties as an organized environment of practical activities detectable, countable, recordable, reportable. . . analyzable - in short,

Organized social arrangements consist of various methods for accomplishing the accountability of a setting's organizational ways as a concerted undertaking.

One important method of accomplishing a setting's accountability, of accomplishing "the intelligible character of its own appearances as either representations [-of-a-social-order] or as evidences-of-a social-order", is the members' use of the idea of rule-governed conduct in talking about their own affairs among one another. But before considering how rules may be examined in this way as phenomena in their own right - their place and use in traditional social science should first be reviewed, because, as constructs of the second degree, we would expect that many of the formalized features and uses of rules in social scientific accounts have their basis in the folk sociological theorizing of societal members. Thus, examining the professional uses of the idea of rule-governed conduct should give us an initial clue to its uses among lay members.

The Theory of Normative Culture ill Contemporary Sociology : The Tradition of Weber and Durkheim

The idea that normative orders are both observable social facts in themselves and are productive of other observable social facts



is a cornerstone of contemporary sociological theory and method. In his monumental study of social order, Parsons (1 937) demonstrated that normative orders are essential components of the study of action. In that work, Parsons showed that it is logically impossible to account for the observed regularities of the behavior of man in society without providing for a normative order. Norms are essential features of the conception of social phenomena. The central place of norms and normative culture in contemporary sociological analysis can be seen by considering that most, if not all, traditional sociology is concerned with some aspect of the problem of accounting for the formal structures of everyday activities, i.e., accounting for, in Garfinkel and Sacks' terms ( 1 970: 346), those actions which "upon analysis [show] the properties of uniformity, reproducibility, repetitiveness, standard ization, [and] typicality ... [and which show] these properties . . . independent[ly] of particular production cohorts . . . . The problem, of course, has been phrased in various ways. Garfinkel (1959) (in his discussions of Parsons) and Zimmerman and Wieder (1 970) discuss it as the problem of order. Robin Williams (1 960) refers to it as the problem of accounting for the social structures - those social phenomena which are patterned, recurrent, and persistent over time. And Inkles ( 1 964), in discussing the aims of sociology, describes sociology's basic problem as the discovery, description, and explanation of social events which occur in a more or less regular sequence and pattern. Although there is certainly debate over how sociology shall account for the formal structures of everyday activities,l the very prevalence of the explanatory uses of the concepts of role, norm, value, attitude, definition of the situation, stereotype, orientation, culture, sub-culture, and any other listing of sociology's funda mental concepts, shows where sociology locates the source or cause of its formal structures. All of these explanatory concepts refer to elements of the actor's situation as he knows or perceives it. In one fashion or another, sociologists provide for

For example, see the discussions of Homans (1964), Blumer (1962), Turner (1962), and Wrong (1961).





the uniform, reproducible, repetitive, standardized, typical features of action which are independent of particular production cohorts by discovering or positing regularities in the situations of action as perceived by the actors and toward which their actions are directed. 'Regularities' in observed actions are thereby accounted for by 'regularities' in perceived situations. Weber and Durkheim in their originative and quite compatible discussions provide the most useful and detailed elaborations of the character of social scientific explanation.

Weber's "Correct Causal Interpretation o Social Action" f

Weber's formulation of sociology and its tasks was directed to this very paradigm of explanation. For Weber and those that followed, sociology's fundamental problem is the explanation of regularly occurring patterns of behavior (that can be described without reference to the subjective states of the actors) in terms of the motivated character of those same actions from the point of view of the acting actors. Weber ( 1947) referred to this as the problem of providing a correct causal interpretation of action.2 Weber's requirements for the correct causal interpretation of action are cogent for sociology today and are recapitulated without direct acknowledgement in the writings of, e.g., Thomas (1 928) and Blumer (1 962).

A correct causal interpretation of action


involves a twofold task. The investigator must detect

uniform patterns of behavior that can be described without reference to their subjective sense for the actors, and he must describe and appreciate the meaning of the action in its context for the actor in such a way that the investigator 'sees' that the repetitive, uniform way of acting follows from a 'typical' or 'correct' course
2 Garfinkel has elaborated Weber's discussion in identifying the problem of a correct causal interpretation of action with the problem of order and the terms of a theory of adequate description in his unpublished Parsons' Primer (1959). For a much briefer published account of a similar treatment of the problem of order, see Zimmerman and Wieder (1970).

34 of 'reasoning'.



A correct causal interpretation of action yields the

following model :3 The members of society are conceived of as a population of actors who, in the course of leading out their lives, engage in actions that can be described as regular and repetitive. . These patterns of action are differentiated and are associated with named social positions in such a way that when any member of the population assumes any given social position, he displays . the appropriate associated pattern of action. The sociologist is thereby faced with the theoretical task of distributing motives around a theoretically conceived society in such a way that : a. b.

those motives typically produce regular patterns of action; those motives are typical of any member of the population who assumes a particular position ; those motives are not a matter solely of biology, character structure, or rational adaptation to material circumstances.

Norms and the associated concept of roles are the most common theorist's method of distributing motives and definitions of the situation .

Durkheim and Social Facts

Durkheim's analysis of social f acts, in

T Rules of the Sociological he Method (1938), provides for all the characteristics of sociological
social facts are regular-patterns-of-action-which-are-produced-by

explanation that have just been examined. In fact for Durkheim, compliance-to-a-normative-order. This means that the identifi cation of social facts parallels Weber's problem of doing correct causal interpretations of action. For Durkheim, social facts exhaustively constitute the proper domain of sociology and are, above all else, objective as opposed to subjective phenomena. Durkheim defines them as objective ways of acting, thinking, and f eeling. To say that these occurrences are objective means
3 The discussion of this model of explanation, which is typically employed in sociology, draws heavily though indirectly on Garfinkel's Parsons' Primer (1959). The discussion also draws on Schutz's (1964: 81-88) description of the social scientific use of rational-typical constructions.



that they are observable events in the real world and that they display three properties : exteriority, constraint, and typicality. In saying that a way of acting, thinking, or feeling has the property of exteriority, Durkheim means that the individual member's particular way of acting, thinking, or feeling is not that member's creation (1938 : 1). These ways of acting "are not developed by ourselves but come to us from without" (p. 4) and "could not have [been] arrived at spontaneously" (p. 6). As such, they are the sources of our habitual patterns of action, thought, and feeling (p. 6). A pattern of acting, thinking, or feeling which has exteriority would be experienced by the individual actor as not his doing or responsibility. Even though he engages in it, it has nothing in particular to do with him. One feature of the formal structures of everyday activity is derivative of Durkheim's feature of exteriority - that the regularities are independent of any particular production cohort. A pattern shows constraint when, by reason of the actor's membership in the society or some partial group within it (p. 7), the pattern of acting, thinking, or feeling is "endowed with coercive power" (p. 2). Although the individual may accede to the pattern and, thereby, not feel or recognize the constraint of it, it is nevertheless present, as he would discover if he were to resist the pattern (p. 2). A pattern has the property of constraint if the individual cannot change it or if it offers resistance to those who try to change it. Resistance may be manifested in the variety of ways that other members can negatively sanction the innovator, or in the inability of the innovator to gear his activity to those following the typical pattern (pp. 2-3). Efforts to behave in a way other than that provided for by the pattern will be recognized by others as, and impressed upon the innovator as, immoral, impolite, or unrealistic. In saying that a pattern of acting, thinking, or feeling has the property of typicality, Durkheim means that it is distinct from individual manifestations in two senses (p. 7). First, every observable occurrence which expresses a social fact is jointly the product of the individual psyche in adaptation to its particular



concrete circumstances and the product of a social fact (p. 8). It is the typical pattern or average pattern that expresses the social fact, for in the typicality, the individual contributions cancel each other out (pp. 8, 44-45). Durkheim also speaks of them as repetitive (p. 7) and consistent and regular (p. 28). Thus, social facts are 'expressed' in those aspects of the observable activities of daily life which show the formal structural properties of typicality, consistency, regularity or standardization, and repetitiveness . However, there is a second sense of independence from individual manifestations which provides Durkheim with the grounds for saying that regular activities 'express' social facts. An observable pattern of regular, typical, consistent, repe titive acting, thinking, or feeling is not necessarily a social fact for Durkheim. It must also be the case that the observed pattern is produced because it "is more or less obligatory" for the members (p. 9). The social fact is "repeated in the [action of the] individual because [it is] imposed on him" in the sense of exteriority and constraint (p. 9). Social facts, then, are those aspects of the observable activity of daily life (which include ways of acting, thinking, and feeling) which have the properties of regularity (uniformity, reproduci bility, repetitiveness, standardization, and typicality) and indepen dence of particular production cohorts (exteriority), and which show those two sets of properties by reason of the fact that activities with those properties are produced as a matter of motivated compliance to a normative order. The construction, 'social fact', is at least one solution to Weber's problem of adequate causal analysis and a solution to the general sociological tasks of theoretically constructing a society whose members produce regular patterns of motivated action in a differentiated fashion.

Norms and Explanation

The attempt to account for the formal structures of everyday activities typically leads the sociologist to search for an appropriate



normative culture in terms of norms, values, and cultural cate gories.4 The very way in which norms and normative culture are conceived provides for counting them as formal structures as well. Norms and values serve as instructions to the actor, and their contents must be empirically established. The actor's motivation to comply with the norms and values must also be established . These motives are found in the demonstration that the actor has internalized the normative elements, and, therefore, compliance with them is a condition of his capacity to count his own action as morally correct, and/or the actor can be found to comply with normative elements as a condition of his position within his community, i.e., a condition of retaining the respect of others and a condition of receiving rewards. 5 This basic conceptual apparatus and its variations is used in almost every sub-field of sociology. Its basic features are rarely questioned. Rather than subject the basic formulation to detailed scrutiny, sociologists and other social scientists generally have taken for granted the a ppropriateness of their solution to the problem of explaining action and have used it as a framework for endless empirical studies and f developing specific questions. or Given that action is to be explained by reference to rules, a rather standardized set of questions is posed. The character of these questions may be illustrated by an examination of studies of deviant behavior. These studies have special relevance here, because they serve as one framework for the empirical materials presented in this work.

4 When other conceptualizations are employed instead of norms, values, and cultural categories, they show the same formal characteristics and, thus, can be conceived as variations on explanations based on the idea of normative culture. See Wilson (1970b). The explanation which employs rules as an account of motives employs 5 the notion of motive at two levels of analysis. There is the motive contained in the rule itself (e.g., he was motivated to step to the rear of the line, because there is a rule which says that) and the motive to comply (e.g., he was motivated to comply with the 'rear of the line' rule, because he wished to retain the respect of the others standing in the line).



f f The Use o the Theory o Normative Culture in Studies o Deviant Behavior f

The most common form of sociological analyses of criminal deviant behavior conceptualizes deviant behavior as a formal structure of objective activities and locates the source of deviance in the formal structure of the deviant's perceived environment which is conceived of as a deviant or contra-normative sub culture. In such treatments, deviance is defined as those uniform, reproducible, repetitive, standardized, and typical patterns of

departures from an authorized (or establishment, or formal, or

societal, or legitimate, etc.) normative order which occur with such regularity that they may be conceived of as independent of the particular actors producing the deviance and thereby cannot be attributed to their biography as it would be psychiatrically conceived. The analyst then locates a sub-culture or contra-nor mative culture which 'serves as' a set of instructions for producing actions which are deviant from the perspective of the societal or establishment order. For example, Miller describing:
. . . law violating acts committed by members of adolescent street comer groups in lower class communities - and . . . show[ing] that the dominant component of motivation underlying these acts consists in a directed attempt by the actor to adhere to forms of behavior, and to achieve standards of value as they are defined within that community.

(1958 : 5) characterized his task as that of

Within the standard theories, deviance is the result of a delinquent sub-culture (Cohen, 1955 ; Cloward and Ohlin, 1961 ; Finestone, 1957), or "differential association wIth a delinquent sub-oulture" (Sutherland and Cressey, 1955 : 74-81), or "culture conflict" between a legitimate culture and an imported different culture, or an indigenous deviant sub-culture (Sellin, McCay,

1938 ; Mi1ler. 1958),

or a cultural transmission of a deviant sub-culture (Shaw and

1942). All of these- ways of theorizing about the sources

of deviance are essentially the same in their basic approach to explanation.



This is not to say that contemporary students of deviance devote an or even most of their attention to the relatively simple matter of locating, describing, and analyzing sub-cultures which produce some observed pattern of deviance. It is simply that irrespective of the dominant question the traditional analyst addresses, he portrays deviance as the product of motivated compliance to patterns of ('deviant') normative culture. Within this general scheme of analysis, it is typical that only the earlier studies of some specific social phenomena are directed toward the discovery of a set of norms which correspond to some observed pattern of behavior. Later studies tend to be directed toward such related questions as, 'What accounts for the thematic content of the observed norms '. For example, in the field of deviance, Sutherland and Cressey's work on differential association

(1955) is a formulation of the conditions under which a societal

member will comply with rules which generate behavior deemed to be deviant in a larger societal context. Merton's classic analysis of anomie

(1957) concerns the conditions under which societal

members lose commitment to the dominant normative order and will no longer comply with its norms. Cohen (1955) and Finestone (1957) attempted to account for the thematic content of delinquent norms, while Cloward and Ohlin (1961) attempted to answer all these questions in such a way that they could account for the distributional characteristics of delinquent acts.

Another Way o Treating Rules f

While it has been traditional to build upon the basic idea of explaining action by ref erence to rules or other rule-like constructions, it is possible to proceed in the opposite direction by subjecting the basic explanatory kernel to further scrutiny. Since the late nineteen-fifties, a group of scholars who call them selves ethnomethodologists (though not this group exclusively) has questioned the feasibility of explaining action by reference to rules. Ethnomethodological studies that have empirically investigated



the ways in which rules are actually employed find that persons continually discover the scope and applicability of a rule in the developing occasions in which rules are used (Garfinkel, 1967 : 18-24; Leiter, 1969; Wieder, 1970; and Zimmerman, 1970). This suggests that the claim that an ensemble of actions which occurred in a variety of occasions is explained by the discovery of a rule which was complied with by the actors in those occasions is a weak assertion, because the rule can vary in its sense from occasion to occasion. One could not 'deduce' or 'predict' a pattern of behavior from such a rule. Because of this character of rules in use, Zimmerman (1970 : 233) has argued that,
. . . it would seem that the notion of action-in-accord-with-a-rule is a matter not of compliance or noncompliance per se but of the various ways in which persons

satisfy themselves and others concerning what

is or is not 'reasonable' compliance in particular situations. Reference to rules might then be seen as a common-sense method of accounting for or making available for talk the orderly features of everyday activities, thereby

making out these activities as orderly in some fashion.

Such a suggestion calls for a thoroughgoing reconception of the possible phenomena of study, including a reconception of the formal structures of everyday life, as in Garfinkel and Sacks' proposal (1970 : 346) :
. . . by formal structures we understand everyday activities (a) in that they exhibit upon analysis the properties of uniformity, reproducibility, repetitiveness, standardization, typicality and so on; (b) in that these properties are independent of particular production cohorts; (c) in that particular-cohort independence is a phenomenon for members' recognition ; and (d) in that the phenomena (a), (b), and (c) are every particular cohort's practical, situated accomplishment. The above development of formal structures contrasts with that which prevails in sociology and the social sciences in that the ethnomethodol ogical procedure . . . provides for the specifications (c) and (d) by studying everyday activities as practical ongoing achievements.

In line with these interests, Zimmerman and I (1970 : 288-89) recently proposed that there were three steps involved in making norms a pure topic, in contrast to a resource, of study. The first



step was to suspend the assumption that social conduct is rule governed. The second step was to notice that the regular, coherent, connected patterns of social life are





regular, coherent, and connected by showing their relation to rules (or related concepts) by laymen and professional sociologists alike. The third step was to treat the appearances of described and explained patterns of orderly conduct as



by the members' use of such procedures as analyzing an event as an instance of compliance (or noncompliance) with a rule.

I shall follow these steps and the reconceptions of formal structures

in the examination of moral orders in the chapters to follow. Can it be observed that the properties of regular activities are matters of members' recognition and that that recognition is a member's accomplishment ? How could such observations be made ? How can members be observed at the work of producing the


of orderly conduct through such procedures as

analyzing events as instances of compliance with a rule ? Strangely, perhaps, the necessary o bservational materials are close at hand and within the reach of any ethnographer who has been faced with the task of discovering and describing a normative culture. The observational materials, however, have gone largely unnoticed and almost entirely unreported. These necessary data have gone unnoticed and unreported because of the way that the objects of analysis and the data for analysis have been conceived. Traditional objects of analysis (e.g., rules) have been conceived in such a way as to disregard many properties that their empirical counterparts (the data) must have as visible occurrences in actual ongoing occasions within a social world. For example, the traditional conception of rules does not provide for the way in which rules might be routinely observable in actual ongoing occasions, nor does it provide for the properties of those 'displays of rules'. I would like to say that the data-gathering occasion has been altogether ignored for its possible analysis as a social occasion, but to say that would result in many complaints. After all, a critic might say, have we not described the various roles of the observer ? Have we




not described and analyzed the many features of data-gathering

occasions that might bias our results ? Indeed, there have been

many such studies. But they have not treated the following matters which are essential to the possibility of observing social life as an ongoing, orderly, more or less concerted accomplishment of members, because to do so would necessitate a thoroughgoing reconceptualization, of social events as data and as objects of analysis. Traditional analysts and observers have known but have not noticed the following : (l) Somehow, members o f societies are doing something that makes it possible for social scientists to observe their affairs as 'regular', i.e., as uniform, reproducible, repetitive, standardized, and typical, and that their affairs have these properties of 'regularity' independently of particular production cohorts. By and large, what members are doing that makes their affairs observable in this way is talking, not only for social scientists, but among themselves as well.

(2) While social scientists talk of members' affairs as showing

'regularity', members also talk about their affairs as showing regularity. Just as social scientists engage in explaining members' conduct by reference to rules and rule-like constructions, members also explain their conduct in this way.

(3) By treating members' talk as 'expressing' an underlying,

shared, cognitive order, the social scientist disregards the f act of that talk as an essential feature of the setting in which it occurs. He disregards the reflexivity of that talk - that members' accounts are constituent features of the settings (and objects in them) that those accounts make observable. Garfinkel

(1967 : 9-10) has

.. . by his accounting practices the member makes familiar, common place activities of everyday life recognizable as familiar, commonplace activities. . . [In doing this, the member proceeds] in such a way that at the same time that the member 'in the midst' of witnessed actual settings recognizes that witnessed settings have an accomplished sense, an accomplished facticity, an accomplished objectivity, an accomplished familiarity, an accomplished accountability, for the member the organizational hows of these accomplishments are unproblematic, are




known vaguely, and are known only in the doing which is done skill fully, reliably. uniformly, with enormous standardization and as an unaccountable matter. That accomplishment consists of members doing, recognizing, and using ethnographies.

By examining the members' 'use of ethnographies ' - their situated talk about their own immediate affairs - the appearances of order as an ongoing accomplishment can be made observable. The fact and contents of the members' use of ethnographies may be observed by direct inspection, but simple direct inspection will not illuminate the temporally engaged methods of that work. We can, however, treat the ethnographic occasion itself as an object of study. By directing attention to the ethnographer's work and his encounters with his subjects or informants, the work of the accomplished sense, facticity, familiarity, objectivity, as an 'object uniformity, typicality, etc. of everyday activities may be observed at first hand. The ethnographer's experience as


in a social world', then becomes a primary source of data. The formal structures of everyday life in general, and the place of norms in these structures in particular, may be made accessible to study by embarking on a traditional ethnography of a normative culture and then turning our attention to the production of that ethnography as an accomplishment in the context of the ethno grapher's interactions with his informants and the informants' folk use of 'ethnographies'. It is with these interests that the following chapters examine the convict code as it appeared and was used in a halfway house for paroled narcotic-addict felons. The remainder of Part I (Chapters Two, Three, and Four) presents a traditional ethno graphy. Chapter Two examines the history and organizational structure of halfway houses in general and the specific halfway house in which the actual observational study was carried out. This chapter serves two purposes. It provides the reader with necessary back ground material, and it serves as a way of characterizing the organizational structure of halfway house as an authorized or




legitimate normative order. That normative order will be used in Chapter Three as a device for detecting and analyzing the observed behavior of residents as formal structures of deviant behavior. Chapter Three reports observations of resident behaviors as departures from the authorized normative order. These and researcher. The fourth chapter reports observations of a normative order, the 'convict code', which was enforced at the halfway house by residents and which (in a traditional sociological treatment) accounts for or explains the observed deviant behaviors noted in Chapter Three. The penalogical literature is examined for identical, similar, and parallel findings on the 'convict code' in terms of its production of patterns of deviant behavior in the prison. Part


haviors are analyzed as social structures observable to both staff

II presents an ethnomethodological analysis of the convict

code as a persuasive activity. These chapters will show that the code was offered by residents (in their dealings with me and with staff) and by staff (in their dealings with me and with each other) as 'embedded instruction' for seeing the formal structures of resident conduct. These accounts share many formal and sub stantive properties with the explanations of professional sociol ogists. As events in the setting of the halfway house, explanations based on and referring to theconvict code - 'telling the code' ..

were more than simple descriptions of resident activities. They were persuasive explanations which were consequential in the interactions in which they were 'told '. Although 'telling the code' was persuasive, this does not mean that its use as a schema of interpretation for seeing and describing halfway house events, by those who were 'persuaded', was simply a matter of using or repeating what they had heard. By 'dissecting' the process of ethnographic observation and formulation, we will observe that seeing and describing the behavior of residents as coherent and more or less stably motivated required the work of actively interpreting the pieces of talk and action that one heard and saw.

How the resultant experiential environment was thereby




through the concerted efforts of those who 'told the code' and those who heard it will be a principal topic of the ethnomethodol ogical analysis. In that analysis, we will also see how the behavior of parolee residents is recognizable and reportable by lay and professional sociologists (myself and the staff) as deviant behavior that is produced by rule, how that deviant behavior has the observable and reportable properties of formal structures and social facts that have been enumerated above, and how the residents' deviant rules have the observable and reportable properties of formal structures and social facts. The 'how' of these questions pertains to how the residents, in their inter actions with staff and researcher, made it happen that their behavior was observable and reportable as deviandy rule governed conduct having the status of formal structure and social fact, i.e., what Garfinkel and Sacks (1970) formulate as "accountable phenomena as practical accomplishments".


Features o Halfway Houses in General f

Halfway houses for felons were originally employed by various prisoners' aid societies as part of their programs of assistance to the indigent ex-convicts (Barnes and Teeters,

1959 : 549-551).

Called Houses of Industry, Homes for Discharged Prisoners, and Halfway Houses, they began to develop shortly after the Civil War. Such homes typically supplied the ex-prisoner with food, shelter, and often work in their own industry, e.g., the making of brooms and brushes. They were typically staffed by a superintendent and his wife who were supported by the Community Chest or some other charitable source. Their announced intent was simply to give material aid to the ex-prisoner in poverty. In the past ten years, both the State of California and the Federal Government have instituted halfway houses (Glaser, 1964 :

41 5-418). Also during the past decade, public and private halfway
houses have become rationalized and their typical program expanded. That is, their personnel and social science consultants have formulated a line of talk or rhetoric about their purpose, intent, and function which makes the typical halfway house structure describable as the means to those goals. These practitioners have formulated why halfway houses are needed and why they should have the organization that they do. This line of talk is delivered to congressional committees, to newspapermen, to magazine writers, on radio discussion programs and in open meetings to the public, at conventions of correctional and law



enforcement personnel and through their applied journals such as

Federal Probation. This same line of talk is delivered in a less

formalized form to the very population that halfway houses serve. It is through these formulations that part of what is desired for parolees and ex-patients by correctional personnel and theorists can be seen. The bulk of this chapter will examine the practitioners' official

formulations. In many places their language has been quoted or paraphrased, for one of the interests in these formulations is as data. Practitioners' formulations will serve as one source of the definition of ideal resident behavior. Such a definition of ideal resident behavior will be used in the next chapter as one of the standards against which observed resident behavior will be compared. Use of the programmatic ideals as a standard is one way in which resident behavior can appropriately be designated as deviant. Throughout the practitioners' literature on halfway houses and the need for halfway houses, five rationalizing themes are prominent.

1 . The first thirty to sixty days after a man has been released
from prison are judged by correctional workers to be the most difficult.l They describe the prisoner as having been living in an environment which is both abnormally restricting and upon which the prisoner has become abnormally dependent. Suddenly the prisoner finds himself out of prison, free to do as he chooses, but having to provide for himself. The prisoner is described as not knowing how to use his regained freedom and as terrorized by the prospect of having to live an independent life. Some practitioners express the fear that he will become easily frustrated in his attempts to hold or find work and will quickly return to crime to support himself. His social ties are seen as having been disrupted, leading him to return to those places where he will find
1 Although this is a very widely proposed theme, the most elaborated version appears in the testimony of Harris Isbell before the United States Senate Sub Committee on Improvements of the Federal Criminal Code (Hearings : 146 1 1538).



others like himself and will thereby be led back to his criminal ways by his old and new associates.

2. The halfway house is proposed as a device for helping the

ex-prisoner make the terrible and risky transition f rom captivity to freedom. The halfway house i s described by correctional theorists as "a kind of decompression chamber which gradually prepares him [the ex-prisoner] for the pressures of normal life" (Tunley, 1962 : 5-6). It is often called a "bridge to the community" where, with the staff "running interference, the guests do begin to succeed at finding work, at keeping a job, at solving problems of self-support and independence" (St. Leonard 's House,


Report, 1 964 : 3). 3. The halfway house is described as a "normal" (Davidson, 1 961 : 1 4-15) or "home-like" environment (Tunley, 1 962 : 1 67).
Special efforts may be taken to increase the contrast between the prison and the 'home-like' halfway house by having little or no mandatory program and by keeping house rules to a minimum (Meiners,

1 965).

4. In contrast to programs like Synanon, the halfway house is

portrayed as a short-term arrangement where quickly increasing responsibilities are placed on the ex-prisoner and he quickly becomes ready to fully rely on his own efforts (yablonsky, 1 962 ; Casriel, 1 963 ; Sternberg, 1 963 ; and Grupp, 1 965). The attempt is seen as assisting him to withdraw from his dependent relation on some organization which provides all his physical needs.

5. The new parolee is portrayed as experiencing severe anxiety

and frustration in his initial sojourns into the free world. The staff of halfway houses and the other residents are portrayed as "assisting in the social psychological adjustment of the individual in making the transition" (Grupp, 1965 : 1) by providing "help in all problems of living" (Davidson, 1 961 : 1 5). It would be a place where the man would receive social support and be accepted as making the transition back into the community rather than being rejected as a hopeless delinquent (Pearl, 1966). It would be a place where "immediate help is available if he is unable to resist even



minimal stress" (Progress Report o f Abuse, 1962 : 53).


Ad Hoc Panel on Drug

The Practitioners' Demandf Halfway Houses f Addicts or or

The demand for halfway houses is probably the strongest for a4dicts. The attempt to treat addiction has largely been a failure. Addicts return to the use of drugs after treatment or incarceration at rates from 60 to 95 percent within the first year after their release. A variety of governmental committees, commissions, and experts h,ave asserted that this failure is attributable to the lack of "adequate after-care" for the released addict (Hearings: 14611 538 ; Winick, 1957 ; Davidson, 1961 ; Special Study Commission on Narcotics Report, 1961 ; Progress Report o an Ad Hoc Panel f on Drug Abuse, 1962 ; and President's Advisory Commission on Narcotics and Drug Abuse, 1963). The addict at the point of his release is portrayed as a weak individual needing an artificially structured and supportive environment if he is to avoid relapse (Progress Report o an A4. Hoc Panel on Drug Abuse, 1962). f It is typical that the addict comes out of prison with no resources and without skills. If he turns to public and private agencies for support, he finds that they do not accept addicts. Thrust back into his old environment, the addict is said to quickly return to crime and narcotics use (Hearings, 1461-1 538 ; Davidson, 1961).

The Practitioners' Demandf or way Houses f Addicts in Calif or ornia Half

In California, the Governor's Special Study Commission reported that, "The disappointing lack of success in the rehabilitation of narcotic addicts . . . is due to the lack of any follow-up treatment and mandatory supervision and control" (Special Study Com mission on Narcotics Report, 1961). At that time (1961), California already had a special narcotics treatment program for parolee ad dicts.2 Parole agents working in this program were given special

The program is known as the Narcotic Treatment Control Program and was initiated on October 1 , 1959 (Pearl, 1960; Burkhart and Sathmary, 1964).



training in working with addicts and had case loads of thirty men as compared with the usual seventy to seventy-five. Agents in this program were grouped into special parole districts and were directed to give larger amounts of individual and group counseling. On relapse, the parolee could be sent to a special short-term (ninety days) treatment unit.s In the treatment unit, the man was given intensive group counseling and 'prepared for reintroduction into the community' . Another part of the program is detection of drug use by nalline testing which involves the intramuscular injection of nalline and the measurement of resulting changes in pupil size (cf. Geis, 1 966 : 24; Weinberg, 1960). The use of this chemical test, two to four times a month, is intended to inhibit the parolees' return to the use of drugs by increasing the certainty that they would be caught if they did use drugs.4 With all this organization and effort, the Narcotic Treatment Control Program was recognized by practitioners as a notable failure. For the first cohort of cases,5 fifty-eight percent . were detected in the use of drugs within six months after release from the institution. It was argued that the Narcotic Treatment Control Program was least eff ective in dealing with the period immediately following release. Geis summarized the line of reasoning of those who officially reviewed the Narcotic Treatment Control Program experience :

These units were located at the california Institution for Men at Chino or at San Quentin. Prior to this time, the only legitimate alternative actions available to parole agents were to send the man who had relapsed to jail for several weeks or to return him to prison as a parole violator, usually for eighteen months. More technically, the parole agent does not actually send the parolee to jail for three weeks or to prison for eighteen months, but recom mends those actions to the Adult Authority (parole board). Typically, the Adult Authority does as the agent recommends. 4 It is also proposed by practitioners that if the use of the test fails to inhibit the return to drug use, it will at least facilitate the early apprehension of the addict and permit his short-term incarceration before he becomes truly addicted again and before the size of his habit presses him . into criminal pursuits to support it. S One hundred twenty-one cases were in the cohort.



Abrupt immersion into free society seemed to be too overwhelming an

a one-time addict to absorb without rather rapid recourse narcotics. . More gradual reintroduction into the com munity seemed to be an obvious requirement of a narcotics control program hoping to achieve a degree of success (Geis, 1966: 27).
experience for of

to re-use

The Origin and Original Rationale of the East Los Angeles Halfway House It W.lS largely on the initiative of Arthur Pearl, a research specialist who had evaluated the Narcotics Treatment Control Program and who had been on loan from the Department of Corrections to the Governor's Special Study Commission on Narcotics, that the East Los Angeles Halfway House was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Pearl, in a letter to Geis, described the addict as engulfed in a deviant society. He argued that a 'bridge' back into a legitimate society was required to enabJe the addict to avoid relapse. He envisioned a halfway house which would provide channels into legitimate occupations and which would be a means whereby 'social integration' into other domains of the legitimate world could be accomplished (Pearl, 1966). Pearl proposed that a halfway house would provide a better setting for treatment than either regular parole or the prison. His reasoning, which is remarkably similar to the rationale pro posed by other practitioners and supporters of halfway houses, was sketched in his successful proposal to NIMH. Pearl proposed that : (1) The halfway house would closely resemble a normal social setting, with a reduced likelihood of the old environment and associates disrupting the addict's treatment, as they frequently do on ordinary parole. (2) Treatment would be facilitated by the possibility of 'working on' the parolee's experiences with his fellow residents and his attitude and behavior at the halfway house. These would be 'normal life experiences' as contrasted with the prison, yet more observable than on regular parole.



(3) Halfway house would provide greater access to community services and facilities. (4) While at halfway house, the parolee's responsibilities could be gradually increased until he terminated his residency, in contrast to immediate release from prison. (5) Pearl also proposed that the halfway house would protect society by giving the parolee more complete supervision, by an earlier identification of the parolee's troubles, and by gradually releasing him from controlled supervision as he demonstnted his capabilities. Arguing on the basis of the disappointing experience of the Narcotics Treatment Control Program and the stated belief that the period immediately following release from treatment and incarceration was the weakest link in the chain of treatment and supervision, Pearl, in cooperation with the California Department of Corrections,6 made application to NIMH for partial funding of a halfway house for parolee-addicts and support for a research program. The halfway house was to be operated under the auspices of the Department of Corrections and staffed by the department's personnel. The Department of Corrections was also to share in the financing of the operation. 7

The Neighborhood and Building

The East Los Angeles Halfway HouseS was located on Breed Street near Brooklyn and Soto in Boyle Heights, in the eastern
6 The application was made under the auspices of the Institute for the Study of Crime and Delinquency, a research institute affiliated with the California Department of Corrections. 7 A special parole district under the Narcotics Treatment Control Program

was formed to service (among others) the parolees assigned to the halfway house and to serve as part of the staff of the halfway house. By October, 1962, a building in East Los Angeles was leased to the state for the house and parole district office, and the first residents were accepted. The halfway house as such was closed in 1 967 as one of the moves the California Department of Corrections made in compliance with Governor Reagan ' s ten percent budget cut for all departments. The demise of the halfway house may also be related to its demonstrated failure in treating addicts .



section of Los Angeles. The neighborhood was once a Jewish community, but is now a Mexican-American ghetto. The area is the largest deharcation point in the state for Mexicans coming into this country. Mexican foods are prominent in the markets. Almost all restaurants in the area are Mexican. One is often first spoken to in Spanish when in a store or restaurant, and only if that attempt fails is English tried. Papers and literature in Spanish are available on the street corners. Both men and women dress 'typically chicano', with many, perhaps most, of the men sporting full mustaches. Although many non-Mexicans live in the neighborhood, people visible on the street are almost exclusively Mexican. The area is reputed by the police and correctional workers to be one of the highest narcotic traffic areas in the state. During the day, on Brooklyn Avenue, one sees the 'harness bulls' or 'black and whites' (motorcycle police and police cruisers) pass by once every ten minutes. At night, the police pass by perhaps , once every three minutes. East Los Angeles was chosen as the location for the halfway house, at least in part, in r esponse to a community request that a program of this type be placed in this high narcotic traffic area. The halfway house was located in a thirty-year-old stucco building that was previously used as a children 's day-care center. A portion of the building also housed the Halfway House Parole District Office. The remainder of the building was used as the residential area. It contained five dormitories (each housing a maximum of six men), a kitchen, a spacious dining r001l1, a large recreation meeting room, and a sitting or reception room.

The Plan o the Early Program9 f

In the staff's and consultant's formulations of the halfway house, it was not simply to be a place of refuge and assistance for the
Whether or not this is the case and, if it is, to what extent is not known by me and, in any case, has no particular relevance to the research reported here. 9 This account of the plan of the early program is based largely on official halfway house documents and partly on reconstructions of the early history that I received from those staff who were present at that time.



first period that an addict parolee was on parole. Following Pearl's lead, it was also to be an experiment designed around a therapeutic program. 10 The announced intent of the program was "to develop a cohesive, nondelinquently oriented peer group"

(Program Statement, 1 964).

This was to be accomplished through a program of mandatory group counseling held for one hour, five nights a week. The program was designed to force the development of a nondelinquent peer group. One method of accomplishing tbis was to punisb the group as a whole for what the staff viewed as the irresponsible behavior of one of the group 's members. For example, the whole group might be restricted to the house on a weekend for the two time absence from the group of one of the members. In this way, the group was supposed to become concerned about the behavior of its members and negatively sanction its members for behavior that the staff would ultimately punish. The controls hopefully exercised by the peer group were seen to be more effective than those directly utilized by the staff on an individual deviant.ll Mter the parolee had stayed a minimum of thirty days, he could be considered for release. He was to have demonstrated his strength and readiness to lead a nondelinquent life. The group was to have the right to release one man each week, subject to staff review. In the rationale of the program, this right was considered a reward and was revoked for the following week if the staff felt that the group was not treating the matter of a man's release with due seriousness and deliberation. Under this system, the average stay was approximately sixty-five days. The program of group counseling and other supervision was
10 The therapeutic inspiration was provided by Maxwell Jones' notion of the therapeutic community (Jones, 1953 : 33-62) modified by halfway house staff and consultants for use with addicts on parole. Mter the program got under way, Jones attended a conference held by the Department of Corrections at the halfway house to discuss the application of his ideas to this type of setting.

Available stories indicate, however, that 'group punishment' was never effective device for developing a nondelinquently oriented peer group (Fisher, 1965; Geis, 1966 : 219-244).




carried out by a program director, a house manager, and three parole agents whose case load consisted of present and former residents of the halfway house. Besides the program of group counseling, the residents were initially exposed to a week of orientation and work at the halfway house. On the second week, they could search for work. Until they found work, they were to do work projects in the house two mornings a week and most of the day Friday. They were to look for work two mornings and four afternoons a week. They were also to attend hour-long groups for the unemployed, three after noons a week. After the resident had found work, he was charged $ 3.00 per day for board and room. Prior to finding employment, if he failed to carry out a work project, he would also be charged $ 3.00 per day. The other distinctive aspect of the initial program was that it was part of an experimental design, with control and experimental groups. 12
12 The development of experimental and control groups involved several steps. All those prospective parolees who had a history of narcotics use and and who, by reason of an employment offer or family residence, would be expected to live within the geographic boundaries of the Halfway House District Parole Office were assigned to a pool of 'eligibles'. Following the setting of a parole date by the Adult Authority, a Social Research Analyst of the Department of Corrections assigned every other case to the halfway house 'experimental group' and the remainder to the 'control group'. Both sets of cases were supervised out of the Halfway House District Office. Each agent's case load was initially composed entirely of 'experimental group'
cases (who began their parole by living in the halfway house) or was composed entirely of 'control group ' cases (who never lived in the halfway house). Ordinarily, a parolee must have a 'program' (employment and residence) in order to be released from prison, even if that means staying in prison after the date set for his parole by the Adult Authority. During the operation of the experimental program, this requirement was suspended. Parolees assigned to the 'control group' were released from prison on their assigned dates whether or not they had employment or a specific place to live. On the other hand, a parolee who had both employment and a specific residence could be assigned to the 'experimental group' and halfway house residence even though the parolee was unlikely to see its possible benefit. One year after the program was initiated, inmates who had been selected to become experimental cases were sent to the Narcotics Treatment Control



In June of 1964, the NIMH grant expired, the Department of Correction assumed complete financial and research responsi bilities for the halfway house program, and changes in the program were made. The idea of a therapeutic community was retained at first, but then it too was abandoned. Officially recognized and stated difficulties with the program, as it was then designed, were formulated in April of 1965. Staff cited as difficulties : (1) The attempt to be highly selective in the recruitment of parolees created a severe underpopulation problem for the halfway house. (2) The addict population of the Department of Corrections was seen as minimally committed to change, yet high commitment was required to make a therapeutic community work. (3) The relatively short-term stay at the halfway house meant that members were constantly joining and leaving the group, producing an unstable group. (4) (perhaps most important is the following statement :) "The legal consequences of drug use ... [have] prevented open and candid communication between resident and staff, forcing each to maintain his traditional role, thereby impeding the establishment of the Therapeutic Community group" (Proceedings, 1965). This amounts to staff 's recognition that staff and residents could not easily talk to one another about existing or impending drug use. The plan of the Therapeutic Community provided for making precisely this matter a continuing topic of therapeutic conversations. Staff and residents could not talk directly about existing - or impending drug use in group therapy (or any other place) because the staff would have to jail those who admitted use, residents would be informers if they talked in group session about another resident's difficulty in abstaining, and residents would draw
Program at Chino to complete their prison terms as soon as the Adult Authority had set their parole dates. At Chino, the men were exposed to a therapeutic community as preparation for their halfway house experience. They also had contact with their parole-agents-to-be and with other f uture residents of the halfway house. The pre-release experience was intended to strengthen the halfway house as a 'bridge to the community'.



suspicion and surveillance on themselves or others if they talked about desires to use. With these troubles 13 recognized and stated to the relevant officials in the Department of Corrections, a new program of 'outward orientation into the community and local neighborhood' was proposed and ultimately initiated. By this time as well, the first results of the experiment were available and known to staff both at halfway house and in Sacra mento. Although these results were not mentioned in the staff's statement of a desire to abandon the therapeutic community,
13 There were other troubles, but they were not mentioned in the official documents and, thereby, are not part of this account of the 'official history'. On the basis of (1) the account of Geis and Fisher, (2) what was reconstructed for me by a few staff that were at the halfway house during this period, and (3) what residents who had been there at that time said, another account of that period is available. From these reconstructions it is clear that the participants have another way of talking about that early period. They said what was intended as a therapeutic community not only did not develop, but turned into something that Was exceedingly painful for both residents and staff. Residents tended to view their recruitment as an illegitimate extension of their incarceration that was happening to them and not to members of the control group. After all, they had already been paroled. They found the processes Qf group counseling, group punishment, and the release procedures at best unintelligible, and at worst immOl'3.l. They were exceedingly aware that to talk about drug use was dangerous, but that seemed to be what was asked of them. They found the request that they talk about someone else's bad behavior incredible and immoral. They saw it as incredible that they should be asked to do it and immoral that they inform or interfere with another man's affairs. They also reported that they were often helpless to prevent another man's deviance in any case, since he might use drugs on the other side of town, yet they might be punished as a group for his doing that. They wanted to get out of halfway house, yet they could not cleally see what they had to do to get out. At the very least, the staff knew that the setting was creating intense hostility toward them. One agent reported to me that he found the hostility so intense that when he met his group he would do almost anything to avoid taIking about the house and problems in it. He gave paper and pencil psychological tests and tried to direct the group to talk about abstract psychological themes so as to avoid the hostility. This 'other account' - an account of the residents' behavior formulated in its situated pratical uses is a central topic in terms of the convict code of this work. It is notable that this 'other account' was never a topic in official halfway house documents, though it was a persistent topic of staff talk.



by this time they were painfully aware that, on the basis of out come statistics, the therapeutic community had failed .14 My interest here in the outcome statistics is not as a demon stration that the earlier program of the halfway house was a failure, but as documented accounts that were facts of life to the staff and to the residents as well. They are part of the officially recognized history of the house that the staff was party to and officially acknowledged. As such, they were part of the staff's environment.

The Plan of the Later Program15

Staff then proposed to alter their program. They designed a program which they felt was more realistic for their population than a therapeutic community. In 1965 the organizational and treatment plan of halfway house became crystalized, although the treatment program was not fully implemented until 1966.
The research division of the Depal tment f Corrections compiled the results of the first year's experiences of the cohort going through the halfway house and compared it with the experiences of the control group (Himmelson, 1964). There was no statistically significant difference between the outcomes for those who had gone to halfway house and those who were not given this experience. Sixty-seven percent of the house residents were detected in using drugs or experienced 'serious difficulty' (either being returned to prison or being sentenced on a criminal charge to more than ninety days in jail) within a year of their release from prison, while sixty-five percent of the controls, those who did not go to the halfway house, were detected in the use of drugs or experienced serious difficulty. This was for thirty-seven experimental cases and thirty-nine control cases. The rate of relapse was the same as that ex perienced in earlier phases of the Narcotics Treatment Control Program. The experience of the second year's population in halfway house (116 ex perimentaIs and 109 controls) showed the same results (Miller, 1965). Approxi mately seventy percent of both groups were detected in the use of opiates or experienced serious difficulty during their first year on parole. Moreover, only fifty-four percent of those coming to the halfway house made it through that experience successfully and were released to an outside residence in the com munity. The others absconded from the halfway house, were detected by the parole division in the use of opiates, or were arrested and confined by the local p olice for both narcotic and non-narcotic offenses. For additional outcome details, see Wieder (1969 : 41 -44).



For further organizational details see Wieder (1969 : 46-57).



The lines of authority and supervision took the form displayed in Chart 1 .
District Supervisor Program / /' District S,pervisor Director


Parole Agents (6)

House Manager Student Professional Assistant

Parolees on Street (approximately 220)

Parolees in Residence (less than 25)

CHART 1 : Lines of Authority

Although the parole agents were allocated to the halfway house for the operation of the treatment program (approximately four to eight hours a week) and for supervising the house in the evenings and weekends, they were under the direct authority of the Assistant District Supervisor and the District Supervisor, not under the authority of the Program Director. While parolees were in residence, they were under two simultaneous systems of authority. They were responsible both to their parole agent and to the halfway house staff. They could be given orders by both parties and could be arrested by both parties. Following a seminar of correctional workers that was held at halfway house in April, 1965, the halfway house staff and district parole agents, "assisted by the District Office parolee population" (Program Revision, 1965 : 1), developed and put into practice a new 'treatment' program. While the previous treatment program of the 'therapeutic community' had as its rationale that the deviance of the population was based on their ties to a deviant peer group, the rationale of the new program proposed that the source of deviance was in the parolee's lack of involvement in the legitimate community. While the 'therapeutic community' was supposed to alter the parolee's deviance by changing the demands of his peer group, the new program was supposed to rehabilitate him



by getting him involved in the legitimate community. By getting the parolee involved in nondelinquent activities, it was hoped that his past patterns of behavior would change and that this, in turn, would change his associates, his commitments, and other activities. The vehicle that was to alter the kind of activity the parolee engaged in was referred to officially by the staff as a "task-oriented program which focuses on staff-parolee-community involvement and interaction" (Program Revision, 1965 : 1). The halfway house was to be a center from which community resources were made available to fulfill parolee needs, most particularly parolee needs for adequate employment, legitimate recreation, education, and training. The center was to be operated through the joint efforts of parolees (residents and former residents) and halfway house staff. The parolee, ideally, was not only to be directly involved in obtaining his own support from the community, but he was also to have "real responsibility for the program design and implemen tation" (Program Revision, 1 965 : 2).
The Committee System

Although the new program was rationalized in terms of its relevance for directing the parolee 'outward into the community', the focus and direction of the new program was to be achieved by committees of staff and parolees which met one evening a week. These committees were to plan and develop the various activities of the program which were to be executed throughout the week. Each committee was directed to an 'area of need' which had been located through discussions between staff and residents. Through these discussions, it was 'agreed' that parolees needed assistance in the areas of employment, education,16 recreation, public relations (overcoming the public image of the addict), and orientation (to the program and regime of the halfway house). The organizational structure of the committees was formulated
16 The education committee was quickly dropped because of what staff members called "a lack of attendance and interest on the part of the parolees".



in the following terms : each resident parolee was to select any committee he wished, althrough he was "expectedl7 to be an active participant of some commitee"

(Program Revision, 1 965 : 2).

Former residents and other parolees in the district were also invited or required to attend by their parole agents. Two staff members were assigned to 'work with' each committee. Each committee would have approximately ten members and was to elect from their own membership a chairman who would direct their efforts. The plan was for the chairman to be a parolee, but possibly an agent, although in practice parole agents were always chairmen. The committees met each Wednesday evening from seven to eight. Mter the committee meeting, a meeting of the chairmen and other 'interested'ltl members gathered in the program director's office to discuss and coordinate that evening's committee efforts. The committees not only provided their members with an introduction to nondelinquent activities, but also provided another occasion for parole-agent-parolee contact. Requesting or demanding a parolee to come to committee meetings at halfway house was one way an agent could increase contact with a parolee who was seen as requiring intensive supervision and observation without giving the parolee the constant feeling that his every move was being scrutinized. As an accompaniment of 'increased parolee involvement in the legitimate affairs of the community' , 'supportive supervision" was another focus of the program. Described as a means of assisting the parolee in meeting the demands of routine anxiety producing situations, close supportive supervision was also supposed to provide a means of focusing the parolee's attention on the importance of meeting personal responsibilities to himself, his f amily, the program, and his community. At the very least,
In every official context that I saw the term 'expected', it meant 'required'. Parolees were given an 'overnight pass' for attendance, which they could use at any time. An overnight pass permitted a parolee to ignore curfew for one evening.




the parolee would be supervised in meeting these responsibilities by enforcement of the conditions of parole and the rules of the halfway house.

f The Programmatic Ideals and Hopes o Halfway House

What has been delivered thus far is a euphemistic history. It is stated in terms used by correctional workers and corresponds to the ways they would tell 'their story' in pUblic. Events in this history were also held up as programmatic ideals by the staff when they came to evaluate specific men and specific events and show the character of these programmatic ideals. To speak of these matters as ideals means that they would not have been taken as factual depictions by staff or residents, and while they could be held up as goals for halfway house to achieve, they were not enforceable as day-to-day demands. Staff hoped (and held out as ideals) that residents would :. a. b. c. d. e. f. g. want to be helped ; want to do the work of helping others as a means to their own rehabilitation; actually do the work of the committees ; say what they really wanted ; propose steps to reach what they really wanted ; volunteer to lead the work of carrying out those steps ; only use staff as a resource for accomplishing those pieces of the work that required official intervention, e.g., signing agreements with the parks department; h. accept the minimal set of rules of the halfway house as being there for the residents' own good. Staff rationalized the rules by saying that compliance with them was a sign of respect for the residents' own house and organization. For example, staff would say to a resident, "Look what kind of place it would be for you if you had a bunch of drunks around here" ; i. accept staff as working with residents ;



j. k.

willingly make important organizational decisions together with staff; be open, i.e., willingly talk about themselves and do so truthfully.

This is not to say that in actual practice the staff regarded these goals or ideals as realistic or personally took them to be desirable. Nor did they say, "Here are our goals", in so many words. Indeed, in the halfway house staff's programmatic written statements, the closest they came to stating these as goals was to speak of their desire to 'involve' the resident in the program and to 'involve' him in the affairs of the legitimate community. Instead, these unstated goals became apparent in the variety of ways in which the staff evaluated activities of the halfway house and its residents. For example, the ideal of solidarity and resident self-determination was verbalized at a staff conference in which a dinner for the staff and residents was being planned. Staff said such things as, "The residents have said they really want this, and it will give us an opportunity to be with them and their families in non-business circumstances. " And in another conference, staff described the success of a Christmas party by noting that residents voluntarily undertook the various tasks of the party (e.g., playing Santa Claus) and that staff and residents enjoyed each others ' company. The programmatic ideals were also verbalized every day outside the context of formal staff meetings. For example, they were frequently employed by staff in talking to each other and with residents in characterizing or evaluating the behavior of a resident, as in the evaluation, "Pedro doesn't want to be helped."
The Daily Working Concerns o the Sta f ff

The programmatic ideals of the regime of the halfway house were overlaid with a set of day-to-day working concerns. These working concerns are rarely noted in the literature on halfway houses. They are alluded to in references to the need for giving 'supportive supervision ' and 'providing some sort of structured



environment'. Briefly put, these phrases mean that the staff of this halfway house, and any other halfway house operated under parole authority (and to a lesser extent private halfway house staffs), have as their immediate and continuous responsibility the detection and rectification of deviance in their midst. Staff never forgot that they were dealing with parolees and that they had responsibility for the parolees as their parole agents. This preoccupation was observable in constant references in their talk to each other. Whenever agents gathered, they talked about knowing


their charges were doing (as a matter of assertable

fact to other staff) and knowing

that what their charges were doing

was in compliance with the law and the conditions of parole. These were first-order conditions of fulfilling their occupational duties. Knowing 'what' and knowing 'that' were of such an order of concern that it was definitive of being a competent parole agent in the setting. It was one of the fundamental showable parts of doing the work of parole. Not doing that work and not showing that work to supervisors and other staff were taken as occasions for denouncing a parole agent, calling him realistic' , or 'not taking care of business' . 'incompetent' , or 'lazy' , and saying that he was 'not doing his job' , 'being un

The Specifics of Supervision

Whatever else a parole agent does in the accomplishment of his occupational duties, one thing he is continuously engaged in as the showable part of his task is giving accounts about the behavior and location of his case load. He may or may not give them advice and assistance ; it would be rare that anyone in the bureaucracy would know whether or not he did that. The two things that he must show his superiors are accounts about his parolees and accounts about the fact that he is seeing them and finding out about them. It is with respect to the tasks of surveillance, receiving accounts, verifying accounts, reformulating and transmitting accounts, and making comparisons between accountable, factual states of affairs in the lives of parolees and the requirements of



the Adult Authority - it is with respect to these tasks that the parole agent 's environment has an unavoidable, sanctionable that any account that dealt with parolees would include (if it covered these matters), and could not contradict cover these matters), as conditions of an adequate account about an agent 's work that he would offer to his peers or superiors. The continuous task of parole is to assess the parolee's com pliance with the conditions of parole (a set of rules) and with the law, i.e., all laws except minor traffic matters. The p arole agent is ch arged with determining the following matters about his charges : a. b.

structure. These tasks are equivalent to a set of structural features


it did not

Are they violating any laws ? Are they employed ? If so, where and for how much and doing what ? Where do they live and with whom ? Are they driving ? If s do they have a license and insurance ? With whom are they assQciating ? Are they using drugs or a )cohol ? If alcohol, in excess or not ?

d. e. f.

In determining these matters, the parole agent may find a wide variety of concrete determinations relevant to answering these questions. For example, the ways in which a parolee is able to afford the clothes he is wearing is potentially relevant to questions concerning his criminality. While there are a swarm of such considerations in day-to-day parole for men living in their own residences, at halfway house a particular set of such considerations was typical. As matters that parole agents and other staff had to determine and could . not take as settled, the following were prominent questions asked about all residents : a. b. d. c. Is he using drugs ? Is he selling drugs ? Is he drinking or drinking to excess ? Is he either really employed or really looking for work ?



Is he respecting the rules and regulations of halfway house ?

In determining answers to these questions and any other questions which had tangential relevance to these questions, parole agents had unlimited rights of interrogation and inspection. About each question they could demand proof, did demand proof, and were required to demand proof.19 Parole agents were charged with enforcing these matters as laws and had the power to put men in jail for violating these regulations. In enforcing the rule prohibiting the use of drugs, they were to ascertain that that rule was being complied with and to deal with violaters of that rule by jailin.g them and writing a report to the Adult Authority about the use. They were to monitor the affairs of their charges in such a way that they would

be able

to detect the sale of drugs. Some parolees were directed by the Adult Authority to abstain from the use of alcohol. All others were permitted to 'drink in moderation'. The agents were also They were to monitor each man's behavi t in such a way that they could say either that he had a job and what job it was, or that he was making concrete, describable (first the parolee went here, then the parolee went there) efforts to find a job. It was also the agents' task to monitor the behavior of their cases with respect to complyin.g with halfway house rules and to enforce that compliance. It was within the context of these tasks of parole supervision that the day-to-day routines of halfway house had their sense for the staff-participants and were describable by staff as sensible routines for them to require. These activities required of residents that they make their lives observable to staff in such a way that the questions staff had about the conforming character of that life could be answered in 'empirical' terms : that is, if a staff member
19 That is, the agents were 'entitled to' demand proof, and this was openly recognized by the parolees; they did demand proof, but not on all occasions; and they were required to demand proof by their superiors 'whenever appro priate occasions arose', although they did not always do this, and there was no guarantee that their superiors would know about 'the appropriate occasions'.

charged with determining that these directives were being followed.



were asked by one of his colleagues about a particular resident, he could answer in terms of what he had seen or had been shown. The routine activities were used by staff as a standard in terms of which assessments of residents' behavior were formulated. To the extent that the typical routines were adequate descriptions of a resident's life, those routines in fact provided for the ob servability referred to above. Those routine activities can be described in terms of the typical career of halfway house residents

The Routines o the Hal way House f f

The day a resident arrived, he was oriented by the house manager in his office. In that session he told about the routines of the halfway house and about some of its other overriding rules, namely that no drug use was permitted and that alcohol was not permitted on the premises. Typically the resident was given a brief history of the organization and its purpose. Then the resident saw the program director in his office where he was given another orientation in which the 'therapeutic program' was emphasized. On the same day the resident saw his parole agent, who might take him to the test center to receive nalline testing. The parole agent also gave the man an initial interview if he were just coming out of prison. The agent typically gave the man an overnight pass on his first night. For the next two days the new resident was assigned a work project by the house manager.20 Although his evenings were free, except for scheduled house meetings to be noted below, the new resident had a midnight curfew. Starting on the fourth day and until he located employment, he was required to be up by six, leave the halfway house by eight, be looking for work during the day, and be back to the halfway house by four. At 4 :00 p.m. he was required to go to a short group2 1 for the unemployed in the house manager's office. At this
Labor provided by new residents was the chief source of maintenance labor available to the halfway house. 21 In the language of staff, parolee, and inmate, a 'group' is not a collection of persons, but an occasion at which persons gathered to do therapy or business. The term is used grammatically in the same way that 'party' is used. This



group he was asked to give evidence of his employment-searching efforts by listing the potential employers he had contacted and by telling what happened with each one of them. He might also have received leads for job-searching for the next day from the house manager who ran this group or from other residents attending the group. The meeting usually took less than one-half hour. The men were then free to do as they chose until midnight when their curfew applied, unless they were scheduled for halfway house meetings that night. On Monday night there was a required house administration meeting from 6 : 30 to 7 :30 p.m., where events of the week were discussed, behavior of the residents was reviewed, and residents were invited to tell 'how they felt' about what the staff was doing and 'what they thought' of the regulations of the regime. On Wednesday night the committees met. On Friday evening there was a brief meeting to review each resident's bill and how he intended to settle it (either cash or doing jobs at halfway house). In addition, there were occasional optional evening programs. These were typically held on Thursday nights and involved such activities as resident pool tournaments and attending 'the fights'. After a resident obtained work, which typically took nine days, his curfew was extended to I :00 a.m., and he no longer was required to go to the 4 :00 p.m. group for the unemployed men. He could then set his own time for getting up in the morning. After he obtained employment and paid his bilI, he was permitted to leave. Most residents left one week after obtaining employment. Another set of routines which was required of all residents, regardless of the length of time they had resided in the house, concerned the control of narcotics use. Daily skin and eye checks were given to all residents who were viewed as particularly risky by staff. Surprise nalline tests were sometimes given to all residents. Urine samples (for a narcotics test) were taken from all residents whenever the house manager's periodic searches of halfway house uncovered evidence that narcotics were being used in the house.
particular group met only when there were a sufficient number of unemployed men to warrant it.



Sta Uses o the Routines ff f

Cooperative compliance with the above routines (being in the places at the times specified) and not visibly using drugs would have made a resident's behavior non-notable for the staff when they came to give an account of the resident. A parole agent's question to one of the house staff, "How's Fernando doing ?" would have been answered, "0. K., he's stable - he's giving no trouble. " Rupturing any one of those routines made the resident's behavior notable, open for comment to other staff members, and especially open to question, i.e., it provided the occasions upon which staff were required to question a resident's behavior. It provided the terms in which responses to the question, "How's he doing ?" was answered. For example, 1 observed the following answers : "I don't know, he missed group last night; I'm going to check it out with him as soon as 1 see him" ; or, "He's messing up ; he's not paying his bilt" ; or, "He's messing up ; he's taking an awfully long time finding work" ; or, "Something's up ; he gave a very fuzzy account of how he is going about finding work. " 22 Moreover, compliance with the routine made the resident's behavior observable so that staff could say that they saw him and that he looked and acted 'normally'. That is, compliance with the routine insured that the resident was at halfway house for certain periods each day and gave staff the opportunity to observe his behavior and appearance, thereby detecting at least the more radical forms of narcotic-induced behavior. By keeping track of part of the resident's day through required attendance and by obtaining some information on other parts of his day (either from knowledge of when and where the resident was working or, for the unemployed, keeping track of their job-seeking efforts), the resident's pattern of activities was observed for the possibility of full-time criminal occupations. For example, residents who

These quotations come from my field notes and cannot be counted on as verbatim transcriptions of what staff said. They would be extremely close to what was said, however, and what was said many, many times.





made many brief trips in and out of the halfway house frequently were suspected of selling narcotics and keeping their 'stash' in the halfway house. The staff used the routines of the halfway house to detect, observe, and report the deviance of the residents. For the staff, the notable-reportable occurrences (such as not paying a bill, looking bad, etc.) were not simply isolated matters which indicated lack of compliance to an order they were charged with enforcing, but more importantly, they were interpreted as (were elaborated and explained in terms of) the portents of further and more serious deviance.23 Staff were asked to respond to resident behavior not simply as acts in themselves, to be treated judiciously in terms of their conforming or deviant character, and to treat the resident accordingly. Instead, staff were asked, and asked each other, to treat present appearances as acts-as-they-are-part-of-a-thing-be coming. Present displays were to be understood as portents of the terrible thing that would happen if action were not taken to 'head off' or 'nip-in-the-bud' the thin$-that-is-becoming. Thus a detected case of rule breaking or drug use was not to be treated in itself as 'merely that" but to be seen as (a) the 'first step' in this resident's cycle of increasing drug use and illegal activities, or this resident's cycle of increasing rule breaking which itself would lead to drug use. The detected case of rule breaking was also to be treated as not simply this particular resident's deviance in-itself, or as-it-was-developing, but was to be seen as (b) one resident's deviance that was about to spread to the whole population of residents. Staff also spoke of their certainty that some portion of the population was using drugs even though that might not be visible at any given moment. Whatever was seen directly was merely 'the top of the iceberg'. Moreover, that which was seen as merely the 'top of the iceberg' was not necessarily seen through the obvious cases of apprehended drug use, but was to be seen as well in a


The specifics of the elaboration of portents is described in Wieder (1%9 :



multitude o f 'trivial' occurrences, such as the loss o f a job, or a resident's being up late at night. Deviance that was seen through these minor occurrences still represented 'the top of the iceberg'. This way of looking at appearances as portents meant that the whole population of residents could be seen as using drugs, or in immediate danger of using drugs, or getting into other 'serious trouble' on the occasion and through the occasion of a single resident's making frequent trips through the front door.



In light of the way staff looked at relatively minor deviance, it can be seen that the conforming and deviant behavior o f the residents on a case-by-case basis was no casual matter to the staff. It was the matter their accounts were frequently directed to, it was the matter they had to write reports about, and it was the matter that their supervisors asked them about. Moreover, questions on the order of, "How are we doing ?", "How is the program doing ?", "Are we doing any good ?", "Was last night's event a success?" were also frequent topics of staff meetings, 'bull sessions', talk at parties, and the like. Finally, the questions, "What's going to happen next ?" and "Where and when will trouble break out ?" were continuously topics of expressed concern, curiosity, and anxiety. In brief, deviance and failure were constant topical matters of any talk about, "What are we doing ?", "What do we do here ?" , and "What do we want to do here ?" They were embedded in every reference to the past, the here and now, the plans about the setting, the locale, the organization, or its members. In each case reference was made directly or by understood implication to the 'programmatic ideals', 'routines', or 'rules ' in locating this deviance or failure. It is deviance recognized by, identified as, located in terms of, and described by reference to



departures from organizationally employed schemes like 'pro grammatic ideals ', 'routines', and 'rules' that is the typical topic the sociologist addresses when he deals with deviance, most particularly and clearly when he deals with deviance in organi zational settings. It is deviance recognized, defined, and analyzed in this way which sociologists and laymen alike (in this case the staff and the residents) undertake to explain. Deviance recognized in this fashion is the topic of the next chapter.


This chapter describes a set of notable behaviors for later analysis. They are notable behaviors in three ways : pattern, meaning within the organization, and in their relation to the convict code.


These behaviors were observable as patterns of behavior.

That is, they appeared as massively regular.l One could see the patterns on any day and from day to day with the same population of residents. The observable patterns persisted over time while the membership of the populati<?n was forever changing. I observed these regularities The continously " for population eighteen months of field times observation. entirely changed several

throughout that period.


The behaviors were patterns of special occupational relevance 'programmatic ideals',

to me and to the staff. They were visible to us as departures from staff 's program, i.e., in terms of the 'routines', and 'rules'. As observable departures from what


might be called the official order, these patterns were the very that I was occupationally charged with locating, describing, and perhaps explaining. That is, I was hired to go to the halfway house to observe whatever might be going on there which was relevant to its apparent failure.

All of the patterns, save one, were frequent topics of accounts

which staff offered me and each other about their real and de-

1 In more precise language, this means that on any given occasion. save the first. the observed thing appeared to be the same thing that the observer had seen before.



manding circumstances.2 Staff spoke of the patterns of departures from the official program when they complained about the course of events or the behavior of a single man, when they evaluated events or men, when they were forecasting trouble, when: they were planning possible successes, and so forth. Moreover, staff encouraged and fed my interest in these patterns as matters which were a chronic source of trouble for them in meeting their occupational responsibilities as they described them. Staff sought my sympathy and sometimes sought my counsel about their occupational circumstances. Therefore, in serious inter actionally based ways, these patterns were observable to me and to staff together.3 Since the patterns were sources of chronic trouble and observed as such, my account will necessarily read like a litany of woe.


These patterns were notable in one further and, for the

purpose of this work, most important sense. They were notable in their relation to the convict code. A traditional sociological analysis would provide for the relationsp of these patterns to the convict code as a relation of causality - te patterns of behavior are caused by the code.4 In my own form of analysis, the relation of behavior patterns to code is similar to the phenomenological idea of constitution. Which is to say that the reportable sense, including the sense of departure, and the reportable patterning of the residents' behavior is dependent on the obser ver's use of the code as a 'guide to perception', It is in these terms that the exposition of the behaviors reported as observed in tt foUownng pages will later be analyzed for the ways such observed, analyzed, and re ported as





Oil" ',real' in the first

place by whomsoever might do such observational, analytic, and

a Staff did not talk about the pattern I call 'doing distance'. They did, how ever, make their attention to this pattern visible through other modes of com munication, i.e., body movements or gestures. 3 Alfred Schutz provides a detailed analysis of seeing an environment with someone else through modes of interaction. I mean 'seeing with' in the sense that he describes as the "We-Relation" (Schutz, 1964: 27-36). 4 The patterns of deviant behavior, the code, and other elements of social organization, like patterns of leadership, are traditionally described together as 'the inmate social system'.



reportorial work, e.g., a sociologist, a correctional staff member, a policeman, or any other 'spectator'. Since my description of the patterned, repetitive, 'deviant' (in the sense of departing from the staff sponsored order), and notable behaviors is conveniently organized in terms of the ways in which that behavior departs from the staff sponsored order, the specific ways of that departure need some elaboration. As previously noted, the 'programmatic ideals' of halfway house called for (1) solidarity between staff and residents, (2) cooperation with and interest in the goals of the program, and (3) active attempts on the part of the residents to control and mold their own fate through their own efforts. The visible behavior of the residents stood in marked contrast to those hopes. The residents' observable behavior can be characterized as showing interactional distance from, rather than solidarity with, staff. Rather than cooperating with the goals of the program and integrating their own lines of actions with those goals, residents dramatically showed disinterest in the program and resisted active participation. Coordinated efforts between staff and residents were disrupted by staff 's discovery that what a resident said 'now' about his plans, prospects, and desires had only vague connections with how the resident would feel and what he would do when those plans, prospects, and desires came to be realized. Cooperation with and interest in the goals of the program were further under mined by resident displays of apathy toward the program. Rather active mastery of their circumstances, residents relied heavily on staff efforts as a solution to their problems. Moreover, staff described their attempts to enforce the routines and rules as a continuous struggle that they were always about to lose. Staff tried to be knowledgeable about what the residents were doing and whether or not what they were doing was legitimate by treating residents as informants about their own affairs and the affairs of others.These attempts were met by claims of ignorance and statements such as, "I have nothing to say". Staff found that they could not rely on residents to supply them with information about what was going on in halfway house either through



interrogation or through gossip. For the staff and the researchers, the environment did not make itself visible through these two modes of talk.


I . Doing distance

Through their body movements, conversational styles, and the use of Spanish, residents distanced or isolated themselves from staff in every public encounter. Residents thereby quickly turned nearly every integrated gathering into a segregated gathering. Within several minutes of the beginning of a mixed gathering of staff and residents, what had initially been a series of conversations having both staff and residents as parties to the same conversation would become conversations between the residents and conver sations between the staff. The residents would group together, talking only to each other, or talk around the staff by the use of Spanish, or would leave the room. The staff would be left either to themselves saying nothing or speaking only to each other.

la. The residents' accomplishment of ecological segregation was perhaps the most striking impression of the organization a visitor might obtain. On entering the house, for example in the afternoon, one could have looked around and found that wherever one looked, the residents were in some places and the staff were in others. The staff members were typically located in their offices, and the residents that were there were typically sprinkled throughout the remainder of the house - in the sitting room, the recreation room, the dorms, or the dining room and kitchen. If staff moved to the dining room for a coffee break or to the recreation room for a game of pool, within a short period of time, residents in those areas would move on to somewhere else. At meal



times, lunch and particularly dinner, one encountered the same patterns. Residents sat together and staff sat together. Wednesday night was the occasion for the greatest staff attendance at dinner. Wednesday night dinner was nearly mandatory for staff as some expression of solidarity with the residents prior to their work in the committees. On these nights the segregation was quite visible, as were the means by which it was produced. Dinner was served buffet style. On coining into the dining room, each individual joined a single-file line, filled his plate, and then found a place to sit down. Each person in his turn exercised 'choice ' in locating where he would sit relative to others who had already sat down. One way residents accomplished segregation was to go to the tables in the back of the dining room, leaving staff the tables that were quickest and easiest to get to, thereby producing the display shown in Figure l .

X X 0

0 0 0

0 0 0






0 0 X X X X 0 0


'0 0 0

0 0 0





x @

residents staff

FIGURE 1 . Seating Patterns at Dinner Time

More typical, however, were more complex ways of accomplishing



the segregation as shown in the way a table frequently filled (see Figure 2).
x 1 2 x o 3 x o x

x 4 0

X S 0 0


X 0 0


residents staff

FIGURE 2. Seating Sequenc;.es

Conversational attention was then divided into two groups (see Figure 3).

x -

residents staff

FIGURE 3. Conversational Units at One Table

As the tables were filling up, some residents would 'get stuck' (see Figure 4).


o 1 X 2 X o o


o 4 X

o o

o o

o o o


6 X


residents staff

4. Seating Sequence Resulting in 'Getting Stuck'

At this point, the resident would typically get up and move to another table. A staff member 'stuck' in the same position would also move, though he would typically offer some excuse for moving, while residents typically did not offer such excuses. Thus, the dining room on Wednesday night had the typical configuration shown in Figure 5. As soon as the residents finished, they left the room, leaving the staff in small clusters that combined to form a single conversational group over coffee and cigarettes. The residents moved to three areas of the house which they, for a while, had to themselves. They went to the dorms, the sitting room, and the recreation room. After staff finished coffee, they began to move to their offices .and to the recreation room. Though they might begin to propo$e a pool game with the residents that were there, residents in the recreation room would typically (not invariably) move elsewhere, leaving the staff with the recreation room to themselves. The patterns of segregation were observable to me simply by being present on those occasions. However, the notability of those



o o o

o o o

X X o o

x X X o


x x x

0 X X

0 X X

0 0 X X




residents staff

FIGURE 5. A Typical Seating Pattern at Dinner Time

behaviors for me was intertwined with and produced by my practical concerns as an observer. I wished to be able to talk to the men, on the various occasions in which they were around the house, in order to make their concerns and present inter pretations of events available to me. When they segregated them selves in the fashion that they did, this made my observations through overhearing and casual conversation particularly difficult. It was in seeing how the difficulty came about that those behaviors became so noticeable to me. Moreover, as I will indicate in another section, the responses of the staff to the residents' segregative work made my task of 'being with the residents so as to see and hear what they were doing' even more difficult. These same re sponses by staff also show that the behaviors were noticeable to staff as well as to me.

lb. Conversational segregation or isolation was another mode

of 'd oing distance' that was accomplished by residents. Particular


81 styles were invoked when staff or researcher attempted to 'break through' the patterns of ecological segre gration.5 Residents 'resisted' casual talk about themselves, their plans, their hopes, their reactions to the mundane events around them, and the like. They also expressed no interest in hearing that kind of personal talk from the staff about staff's lives and circum stances. Yet these are the very matters that seem to be the stuff of casual conversations that are typical of the ways persons share experiences. Instead, if a staff member or researcher attempted to engage a resident in conversation, he quickly found that he would be initiating all the conversational events. He might make a statement, e.g., "I see that such and such happened today", and get a reply like, "Oh", "Yeah, I saw that", or no reply at all. He typically would not get a response upon which he could build more conversation. If he asked a question as a device to get the conversation going, he might get a response, but the conversation kept going only so long as he developed devices which obtained responses from the resident. If he stopped making that kind of effort, the conversation simp y ended. The experience was that of not getting the conversation 'really ' going. The effect was even more pronounced by the nearby presence of residents speaking with each other in the very ways in which they apparently refused to speak to staff. Often it was the case that residents immediately in front of a staff member or myself were having some kind of lively conversation, but it would be in Spanish. The effect was experienced by me (and, as it appeared to me, by staff) as 'not being able to get into the conversation'. I experienced that conversational style as isolating, embarrassing, and as telling me that I was not acceptable - that I did not belong. The effect was that of being a stranger among a set of persons who were talking together but not letting you in. While I did not hear the staff talking about these effects, they
These conversational styles were not utilized when residents and staff had 'business' to do that was being accomplished in the presence of others, e.g., a direct discussion of a man's success at finding a job and what the agent could do to 'help out'. That kind of discussion could have been carried out over the dinner table, for example, without evoking the patterns I am describing here.
5 ,



were apparently responsive to them in the following ways. I did observe some occasions in which staff experienced the halting conversations that I had had, and then ate their meal in silence in the midst of others having conversations. If the occasion was not meal time, staff typically left the scene and went to some other part of the building. Likewise, it was frequently the case that staff avoided these scenes by getting their food from the kitchen and then taking it to their offices. Staff did not do that, however, when there were enough staff members around to form their own conversational unit. I was often taken as 'someone to talk to ' on those occasions, so that while I was attempting to engage myself in conversation with a resident, a staff member preparing to sit down (e.g., to eat or to take a break) would occasionally sit next to me and engage me in the kind of conversation that he apparently could not hold with a resident.
1 c. Segregation through language was yet another way for residents to accomplish 'distance'. At any given time, about ninety percent of the residents were Mexican-Americans ho had been brought up in a Mexican-American ghetto and who spoke Spanish much of the time. I was told by some residents that Spanish was preferred for conversation which 'expressed solidarity', although they could all speak English. Except for one agent, who was Mexican American himself, none of the staff spoke Spanish. The use of Spanish in front of staff made it possible for the residents to have a lively conversation in which staff could not take part. That Spanish was being used for just those effects became apparent to me when I located myself near the door of the kitchen, the recreation room, and the sitting room. I could overhear enough conversation to tell that it was in English, yet when I or a staff member entered, the conversation immediately shifted into Spanish. It was when these three 'devices ' combined that one got the full effect of the segregation. That is, when residents were on the scene and in each other's presence,6 staff and researcher confronted
6 It was not the case that residents would not talk with staff or researcher



the various forms of doing distance. Residents were not


staff while in staff's visible presence. They thereby did not make known how they were spending their time outside halfway house by this simple means. For the staff, the tasks of surveillance (knowing 'what' the residents were doing, and knowing 'that' what they were doing was legitimate) were not achievable by means of casual, non-purpose-directed talk and through the various means provided by overheard gossip. For me, as an observer, these means of observation were similarly restricted.

2. Doing Disinterest and Doing Disrespect I

combine these two typical modes of action because staff noted both of them as 'passive hostility', and because they are distinct only in the degree to which they were done. Doing disinterest and doing disrespect refers to the variety of ways that residents 'showed' (what observably looked like showing and which the staff and


as an observer, took to be showing) that they were not interested in the program, that they were not interested in what staff had to say, that they 'couldn't care less' about 'opportunities for rehabilitation', and that the program was not for them - perhaps for someone else, but not for them. We should recall that residents of halfway house, by coming to halfway house, were agreeing (in terms of the 'programmatic ideals' of the halfway house) to participate voluntarily in some form of treatment or rehabilitation. The rationale for the various
or be friendly to staff or researcher. Long and sometimes open conversations were held with staff and with the researcher in the privacy of an office. In interviewing residents, I did not find it difficult to get them to talk. Instead, 1 had to find ways of limiting the length of the interview so that they would not last four hours or more. These same men were typically not engageable in open conversation around the dinner table in the presence of others. To use Goffman's term, open conversation between residents and officials was a matter of "secret consumption" and could occur whenever one resident was not under the gaze of his fellows. Residents might even initiate more or less private conversation when an official encountered them alone, e.g., as when a parole agent or I wandered into the kitchen to get something to eat, a resident who was washing the dishes might start a long and rather open conversation.



forms of rehabilitation required that group members 'demo cratically participate' in controlling their own fate and that they learn to actively master the legitimate world by their own efforts. The behaviors I observed as 'disinterest and disrespect' are notable in their contrast to these hopes. Residents showed disinterest and disrespect in their actions during the official group activities at halfway house. The form of these official group meetings provided the vehicles for showing disinterest and disrespect. Monday and Friday night groups were held in the recreation room where a set of chairs were pulled into a circle so that every member of the group faced inward. That arrangement was important, because it made all activity visible to all members of the group, and it focused presumptive attention on what each person was doing as a member of the group. Other groups (the committees and the four o'clock employment group) were held in staff offices where the general 'circle' form of arrangement of members was also used.

2a. One prominent manifestation of apathy or disinterest was

visible in the ways the residents were sitting. They sat in a characteristic slouch in which their necks touched the top of the back of the chair, and their hips were near the edge of the chair seat. High school teachers would probably recognize the display as a 'delinquent slouch ', though they would recognize that many non-delinquents do it as well. The slouch was frequently accom panied by other displayed features : (a) half-open eyes, (b) looking off in some direction other than toward the person talking, (c) looking at their fingernails and cleaning them. There were more radical accompanying displays which were less frequent. Residents might fall asleep during a meeting - other residents showed great amusement if a resident snored when he did this. Disinterest and disrespect was also shown by low toned side conversations. 2b. Disinterest toward the program and what staff had to say was shown through unresponsiveness to the group leader and



his calls for participation in the activity of the group. On some occasions the group would be totally silent, entirely unresponsive to what the group leader might say. He asked questions, e.g., "Where would you like to have the T. V. set located ?", and got
no response ; he commented on some occurrence in the house,

e.g., "Someone's using drugs. We found an outfit today", or "Too many guys have been coming in late ; do you guys have anything to say about it ?", and received no response at all . A 'no response' ,from the men might occur even if his comment were not directed toward deviant behavior, e.g., the group leader received no response when he announced, "We were thinking about the possibility of a pool tournament ; what do you think about it ?" When he added, " What would you suggest ?", he again obtained no response. It was typical that he got very little response and that sometimes, for half the group session or so, he would get nearly none at all. Relative to his efforts at getting some kind of group conversation going, very little happened.

2e. In a variety of ways residents 'profaned' the occasion of

the group meeting, i.e., through their visible presentations in group, they 'showed' a lack of respect for what was going on. In their own rhetoric and the rhetoric that many of the staff adopted, they 'put down' the occasion and the program and thereby 'showed' that it was not important to them. A consistent, though perhaps minor, way of profaning the group was through their manner of dress. Most residents 'dressed up' and went out every evening as soon as they could (usually after dinner). They would typically wear a freshly ironed shirt, their slacks would be neatly pressed, their shoes would be polished, their hair would be carefully combed, and they would be freshly showered. In general, when the men were going somewhere they dressed 'sharply', though not expensively. On nights when group meetings were not held and on nights when visitors came to dinner, they 'dressed up' before dinner. On nights when a group was scheduled, they deferred 'dressing up' until after dinner and group. For group they often came in their soiled work




clothes or in a 'tee' shirt or barefoot or in some other way 'un dressed'. Though many of them showered and shaved twice a day, they did not typically shower and shave before group, but did so afterward. A few that wore 'doo-rags' (a head covering that protects a hairdo) would wear those to group.

A few that wore

hats or stocking caps at work wore those to group. All those ways of dressing contrasted with the ways the men dressed for 'going out' or for any kind of 'occasion'. The manner of dress profanes the group by identifying it as mundane work-a-day activity. In a similar way the boundaries of the group activity were profaned by mixing other mundane activities with going to group. Beyond the shows of disinterest, that disinterest was highlighted by doing other things in group besides 'grouping'. Among the other common activities that group members did while in group were bringing in a shoe-shine kit and shining shoes during group, dragging the ironing board close to the circle of chairs and then ironing clothes during group, eating in group, ' or talking to a resident who was sitting nearby about matters

that were not part of 'grouping'. Boundaries were also profaned by residents' physically moving in and out of the group. One occasion for movement was phone calls coming in for group members during the period of the group meeting. The phone was down the hall from the rec-room, about thirty feet away, and one could easily hear the phone ring in the meeting. A resident, frequently one waiting for a call, would get up and answer the phone by 'clomping' out of the room. If the call were not for him, he would come back to group and say, "It's for ", who would then go to the phone and talk, almost always in Spanish, often loudly. The action of persons 'traipsing' in and out of group to go to the phone can be under stood as a way of showing that whatever the content of the call, it was more important than whatever was going on in group. It markedly contrasts with the action of an executive who tells his secretary to hold all his calls until after a meeting as a way of showing the importance of the meeting.



Getting up to get something to eat and then bringing it back to group was yet another way of profaning the boundaries of the group.


Other modes of mild disrespect were directed at the program

and its sense. A prominent theme of the 'programmatic ideals' was the idea that residents should have some control over their fate. Decisions were to be given to them. For example, the play "The Connection" was held at halfway house. Admission was charged. What happened to these funds merely illustrates the order of occurrence I saw a number of times. The money was to be split up between the cast, a small jazz band that played, and ' the residents ' welfare fund. Staff had discussed the possible ways of splitting up the funds in their own meeting. The residents were asked to discuss how they would like to have the money split up and then vote on it. Shortly after the residents began discussing the issue in group, several said that they did not really see the point of their making any decision, since the staff would actually decide the matter anyway. I saw this form employed on many occasions. In my field notes I find many variations on a remark made by one resident about the funds from the play : "What's the use of our having an opinion, since you will decide our fate in the final analysis, you fucking hypocrite." When the group was asked about the placement of the television set, another resident said, "What's the use of our talking about the television set, since you have already decided to put it in the rec-room anyway." In answering his parole agent's questions about job hunting, yet another resident said, "What's the use of my telling where . I've been this afternoon, since it's what you say about where I 've been this afternoon that counts, and you have already made up your mind." Other variations on profaning the program were the claims, "I don't understand why I'm here" ; "I can't see why we should [do- this or that],, ; "What in the world could this program do for me 1" ; "If there was really a desire to help us, money would be provided for transportation" ; "We all know that group is not going



to help a guy; each guy just has to make up his own mind to quit using drugs." "If you really want to help us, you would let us move out before we pay our bill and let us pay you back while we are li ving with our mother or our brother. If we stay here, we keep building up a bill while we are trying to pay you off." Some forms of doing disrespect received the immediate attention of staff, e.g., coming to group 'roaring drunk ' and then creating a scene. A resident who combined a display of apathy and disrespect would also receive immediate attention. For example, when a resident lay down on a couch near group, ate dessert, and continually looked away f rom group, staff took those displays as a proper occasion for punishing the man. Not all of the behaviors that I have enumerated under disinterest and disrespect were noted by staff in their accounts of how group went. Their accounts focused on the amount of attention they got, the amount of talk, and the character of that talk. I observed staff's concern for residents' attention and talk in group through staff's attempts to get me to participate in 'rump sessions' , in which they tried to evaluate exactly what i t was that had happened in the group that had just met, and what that meant. In those sessions, and in other references to the groups that were made in various types of staff meetings, staff interpreted the behaviors of 'disinterest' and 'disrespect ' as signs of 'passive hostility', and as evidence of the 'delinquent orientation of the group'. These assessments were frequently made when the 'mood of the house' was being ascertained, particularly with respect to the suspected amounts of drug use and sales that were taking place.

3. Passive Compliance
The idea of milieu therapy and the idea oC'the committee system' included the notions that the residents themselves would work for the rehabilitation of others, that they would recognize their own best interests and see the halfway house as an opportunity to further their best interests, and that they would cheerfully organize and participate in the program as the thing they really wanted to do.



In contrast to these hopes of staff, the residents at halfway , house treated their involvement in ways consistent with the attitude expressed in the following language : " I really couldn't care less about what you have going here, but as long as I 'm here, I'll do whatever, but only whatever, you demand of me. Further, I'll do those things that you are prepared to punish me for if I don't do them.' In fact, many residents pronounced this stance in just so many words.7 That stance was regularly manifested in the ways rules were treated. Residents' compliance with requests, rulings, and regulations was visibly associated with staff's issuance of rewards and punishments, i.e., rates of compliance altered when staff attached concrete rewards and punishments to that com pliance. Residents showed close attention to the difference between what is . required and what is optional and close attention to what will be rewarded and what will be punished. Residents were notably unresponsive to requests, unless they were phrased as .. requirements, and directly refused to volunteer for almost anything staff might suggest.


The history of bill payment at halfway house illustrates

the association between compliance and punishment. Each man was charged $

1 5.00

per week

$ 2 1 .00 per week if he stayed in

halfway house over the weekend. At first, staff talked about paying the bill to individuals and in group, but they did nothing in partic ular to collect it. Resident house bills mounted, going into hundreds of dollars for some. Then the staff tried to emphasize that a responsible person would pay his board and room bill. Residents still did not pay their bills. Staff then made it a requirement that a resident would have to pay his bill before he left the halfway
7 The exact wording of the pronouncement varied, of course, as did the amount of detail which was furnished in the resident's statement. Some residents were quite explicit about the fact that what I am calling 'passive compliance' was a method of managing their involvement. One told me that by passively following orders "I don't let them ... bug me. [I just do what they order me to do.] If they ask me to piss in a bottle [referring to urinalysis for morphine traces], I'll do that. If they ask me to piss in their pocket, I'll do that [too1."



house. This sanction produced some bill payment, but it created further difficulties. It did so because this requirement produced a category of residents who were ready to leave but had built up a bill so large that it would take weeks to pay off, and in the mean time they would be building up a f urther bill. Finally, staff instituted the policy that each Friday each man's bill would be reviewed with him. If he did not make arrangements for paying, he could not have a weekend pass. At that point, collecting the bill diminished considerably as a problem for staff.

3b. The residents displayed their attentiveness to exactly what

was required with respect to the halfway house program. For example, as soon as a committee meeting was over, the residents would typically clear out of the room. They did not 'hang around' to continue talking about the 'important matters being discussed'. They would show edginess as the scheduled ending time ap proached, checking their watches, time. looking at other people's watches, and even saying, "It's time", if the meeting went over' I observed this same stance toward each part of the program by the questions residents asked in group and in orientation sessions. They asked, for example, "Is this [particular thing] required ?", "What happens to guys who do that?", "Is going to committee required?", "What happens to my bill if I run [go absent without leave] ?", "Are you inviting me to go to your [program director's] office, or do I have to go ?", "Does cleaning the kitchen count as work [and is thereby 'paid'], or are you just asking me to do it?", "What will you do to me if I don't go to that group [for the unemployed] ?" Particularly visible to me because of my practical research circumstances were the questions, "Is this interview required ?" and "What happens to me if I don 't want to be interviewed ?" Accompanying the displayed concern for what was required and doing that which was required, residents typically refused to volunteer for taking part in activities that they themselves proposed. For example, at one meeting of the recreation committee,



residents were asked if they could think of any activities that residents of the halfway house could all do together. One resident proposed that they might have a baseball team, and other residents concurred. Staff asked the man who proposed the team to organize it. He replied that he would not do that and, what is more, could not do it. Many activities (like trying to locate employers who would hire parolees) were proposed by residents. However, residents refused to volunteer to carry out these same activities.

3c. A further way in which residents showed passive compliance

was by attending some activity only if it were required, or by going to it if it were counted by staff as an alternative to some required activity. For example, in the early period of the halfway house,8 there were group meetings every night. Because staff felt that residents had a need for 'healthy entertainment', on Thursday night residents could alternatively go to the fights. Staff obtained the tickets and supplied the transportation to the fights. Almost everyone went to the fights. At the time, it seemed to staff that while residents appeared to like going to the fights better than going to group, it was a good thing that they liked going to the fights, since, as staff said, "It's much better to go to the fights than to stick a needle in your arm. It's good to encourage them in healthy recreation." But when the program changed, and there were no Thursday night groups as an alternative, interest in going to the fights radically declined. Staff still provided tickets and transportation, but the residents no longer wanted to go. This pattern was reproduced in the history of baseball at half way house. As long as playing baseball was a way of avoiding group, the residents wanted to play baseball. As soon as it was no longer a matter of alternatives, the residents no longer showed interest (by participation) in playing baseball. The patterns of passive compliance were notable to staff. That residents would not volunteer, but would do only what was
8 This chain of events, like the other 'historical occurrences', was reconstructed for me by staff and residents who were on the scene at the time.



required of them, was a constant theme of staff meetings in which the program was evaluated. As a theme, it was not phrased in terms of how disappointing it was that the men were not reaching the therapeutic objective of volunteering to manipulate their own fate. Instead, the theme was phrased in terms of the burden that the lack of residents' volunteering placed on the staff. Staff members told each other that if there were to be a program (e.g., if a play were to be held at halfway house), it would be staff's effort that got the job done. What I have called passive compliance was also thematized by staff in two other ways. What staff saw in orientation sessions and groups, they described to each other in staff meetings and informal 'rump sessions'. Residents were often seen by staff as attempting to detect what would be enforced and how it would be enforced. Staff called these behaviors 'testing the limits'. An observation of 'testing the limits' often led to the further interpretation that the staff member had uncovered a 'delinquently oriented ' man or group and that the rest of the staff should be apprised of the impending deviance that might follow from a 'delinquent orientation'. 'Passive compliance' also became the topic of staff discussions when advice was being exchanged. Staff members told each other that the only way to get the men to do anything was to order the to do it. They often spoke of particular men as 'needing to be told' what to do. Staff offered me advice about my research procedures. They said that I could not merely invite a resident to an interview, but would have to order him or have staff order him to attend. Staff said that the men could not volunteer, but if one directed them to do something, they would do it willingly.

Doing Requests and Demands

The 'programmatic ideals ' of the organization stressed self reliance. Staff and researchers who dealt regularly with the residents found themselves beseiged with requests. Requests were most commonly for money in small amounts, for transportation,



for information about jobs, for assistance in dealing with some kind of authority (e.g., "Would you can so-and-so for me ?"), and for assistance in filling out forms. Residents that might otherwise notably ignore staff would nevertheless make such requests. The same pattern of demanding and requesting was frequently observable in groups and committees. When residents were asked for their suggestions for the program, several patterns of answers were repeated. It seemed that whatever population of residents was at the halfway house at any given time, the same sets of requests were made : provide money for transportation, provide some staff member to take residents out to look for work, provide more forms of free recreation (in contrast to some joint staff resident effort to obtain such recreation), and permit residents to leave halfway house prior to paying their bill when they could find someone who would provide them with a free resi dence. These patterns of demands and requests from residents were frequent topics of complaint by staff about the residents who made them. Such residents were 'diagnosed' as 'dependent'. Staff members 'told each other about 'dependent persons', warning each other that to fulfill the demand was only to strengthen the personality pattern and warning each other about the possibility of being exploited and worn down by particular residents who made demands on a regular basis. When I first arrived at halfway house, I was counselled by staff that residents would make demands on me, and that if I gave in to them, I would spend all my time and money in attempting to fulfill them .
5. Doing Unreliability as I f n ormants

In several different ways, the accounts offered by residents were not trusted by staff and researchers. Residents frequently broke promises or agreements, verbalized extensive plans and projects but did not act on them, told 'simple lies', and either truncated their accounts in such a way as to render them useless to staff in





determining what was happening at halfway house or claimed ignorance of matters about which they must have known. Residents not only frequently failed to 'fulfill promises', but often did so in very public ways. As might be imagined from the characterization I have given, it was common for residents to break their 'pledge of abstinence' from drugs and sometimes alcohol, not to show up for appointments they had made with their parole agent, and not to pay a bill that they had explicitly promised to pay. Beyond these forms of breaking promises, however, they also frequently failed to perform some promised task which was critical for others who were dependent on that task. For example, one resident volunteered to provide entertainment for a family-night dinner that was being held at halfway house for residents, their wives, and children. Arrangements were made by staff to obtain an electric guitar and amplifier. The system was set up early in the dinner hour, so that when the resident did not show up to play, both the agreement he had made and his 'failure' to meet its terms were quite public. WheJ;l he finally did show up perform that night. late that evening, he merely reported that' he had decided not to , Residents were similarly 'unreliable' with respect to their since job spepific

personal plans and projects. Part of the routine of halfway house provided for eliciting resident occupational plans, program. Parolees easily verbalized elaborate placement and training placement were part of the official and occupational plans. Staff spoke of themselves as 'burned out' (presently indifferent toward the same matters they had previously been enthusiastic about) on such talk. Staff cited incidents such as the following as grounds for not taking resident plans seriously :
I had been talking with one resident after the employment

group met. I queried him about the job he wanted and why he regarded that job as desirable. He told me that he had learned masonry while in prison and had a chance to use those skills while in one of the California Department of Correction's conservation camps. He spoke of the sense of fulfillment he had f ound in building



small bridges that would stand for many years. He said that the next day he was going to follow up a contact he had with a partic ular construction firm, since they had already more or less agreed to hire him. Immediately after our conversation, this resident left the house, as did many of the other residents, but did not return for curfew. A week later he turned himself in for using drugs. For me and for the staff with whom I discussed such matters, it was not clear whether the residents' plans were simple fabrications or whether residents simply abandoned such plans with great speed. It was clear to us, however, that what residents said they were going to do and what they, in fact, ended up doing would often, perhaps typically, be quite disconnected. Residents also 'told direct lies'. For example, they said they were employed when their supposed employer denied even knowing them. They said they were not using drugs when chemical tests showed that they had drugs in their bodies. They gave their mother's addres s as their own when they were actually living with a girl friend. Part of the task of the parole agent was to manage routines of finding out what residents were 'actually' doing, under the condition that he could not take their talk as necessarily true. So, for example, rather than merely ask a resident if he were still employed at the' same place, the agent would ask him to show his most recent paycheck stubs. There was one further way in which resident accounts were 'disappointing'. Their reports were truncated in such a way that they rarely made reference to other residents. If staff asked one resident about another, e.g., "Where is Jose ?" or "Did Enrique get a job ?" or "Has Carlos returned yet ?", the resident would nearly always reply that he did not know. Similarly, if a resident were reporting on his own activities, he would truncate his account so that any contact he had had with other residents during the period in question was suppressed. Staff were aware of such matters as truncated accounts, because they might have seen two residents together in the neighborhood. However, if they questioned one of the pair because he was 'under suspicion' or because he had been late for curfew, staff would find that the resident in



question would describe his evening in much detail, but never mention the presence of another resident. In these various ways, resident accounts were taken as un trustworthy by staff. They took this feature of resident accounts into consideration when discussing residents and their activities by frequent insertion of 'he said' and 'he reported that ', etc. For example, staff would say "Jose

says that he will . . . " or "Jose

says that he did not see . . . ", etc.

Thus far, those forms of systematic behaviors that were deviant by contrast to the programmatic ideals of the halfway house have been examined. That is, in the language of the staff and residents, they were behaviors which indicated that the residents were 'not going along with the program' and 'ranking [insulting] the house'. Next to be considered are those forms of behavior that violated the 'routine' and 'rules' of the halfway house.

6. Doing Violations
With great frequency, residents did not comply with the routines of the halfway house. They missed group, were late for curfew, failed to pay their bill, did not seek work, and did not do their initial work assignments at the halfway house. They also frequently engaged in those activities that were specifically prohibited in the rules of the halfway house. They used drugs, kept drugs, and sold drugs. They drank and kept alcohol in the halfway house. Residents also stole equipment and money from the halfway house. Residents did these activities with such frequency that one could conclude that the order that the staff was attempting to enforce was never actualized, that it did not 'exist', or in Weber's terms, 'was not valid ' . The proportion of the resident population which was engaged in rule violations each week ranged from

10 to 60 percent. For a five-month period, in which I kept explicit account

of the rates of these violations, the median rate of rule violators was

26 percent. (The rate of rule violations would have been even

higher, since some violators did more than one violation.) The rates of drug use, as evidenced through chemical tests and other


97 percent of the

signs which indicated drug use, ranged from

0 to 55

population each week. The median rate of drug use for a week was

21 percent for the five-month period of observation.

The rates of drug use and other explicit deviance among the men during residency were also partially indicated by the frequency with which residents 'jumped' parole during their stay at halfway house. Leaving halfway house by way of the county jail was yet another indicator of explicit deviance. For the last cohort that was enumerated by the research division,9 only some form of independent residence, while a sign of drug use), and


percent of the

men left halfway house by way of the legitimate route, i.e., to


percent ran away

from halfway house (usually understood in the organization as

33.4 percent

of the residents of the same

cohort left halfway house residency by being placed in county jail. However, this last group combines those residents whose drug use was officially demonstrated and those residents whose halfway house rule violations were taken by staff as so severe that placing the man in jail was warranted (Los Angeles Research Unit, 1 966 :


The extent and forms of this kind of deviance

gave the halfway house its appearance as an organization in which there was a constant struggle to enforce the rules and a constant struggle against the imminent possibility that the building would

be turned into a 'den' of illicit activities. When the occurrence

of these forms of deviance was brought to ' staff's attention, it served as the . impetus for interrogations of residents and confer ences between staff members. Staff spent much time developing strategies for dealing with these forms of deviance. When deviance was detected, it was cause for announcement and recording. The deviance itself was open to detection through routinized surveillance techniqqes and through the constant application of scanning-for-deviance techniques by staff. The rates of deviance reported above were the products of the staff's use of such techniques which will now be described. Routine Surveillance f or Rule Violations.

Lateness (missing

331, for admissions between July of 1964 to August of 1966.



curfew) was known to the staff through the student professional assistant's (SPA) night log. The SPA recorded the time at which each man returned. The staff (in this case, the program director and the house manager) read the log each morning as soon as they came in. On the basis of who was recorded as coming in the night before, the staff also, at that time, assessed who was in residence. The third consecutive absence was taken as a conclusive indication that the resident had become a parolee at large, i.e., that he had run away from the halfway house and was probably using drugs. Similarly, staff knew that a man was absent from group, because roll was taken at the groups. In each case, staff questioned the resident on their next encounter with him, asking him why he was late or missed group. Payment of the bill occurred in a group for that purpose held at

6 :30 on Friday nights. Those who did not

pay at that point were asked for an explanation. Some missed group altogether, in which case they would be encountered later about not paying and about being absent. If staff did not other wise know about the resident's employment status as a result ' of his reports at the afternoon group for the unemployed, his employment status would be established' at that Friday ' night group. Lateness, missing group, and non-payment of the bill were ascertained through these routinized forms of surveillance and recordage. Staff supervision of work projects served to ascertain whether these had been done or not, i.e., the resident was required . to report to staff for certification that the project had been ac complished, and the resident was thereby credited. The house staff (program director and house manager) were responsible for the detection, reportage, and 'disposal' of these forms of deviance. The 'disposal' of the deviance took the form of encountering the off ending party, interrogating him, and then either accepting his excuse, issuing him a warning, or meting out some form of punishment. The typical punishment was restricting him to the house, though it could involve sending him to jail. These forms of deviance were so common that at any given time house staff were likely to be waiting for at least one resident to show up so that they might interrogate him.



Routinized Surveillance f Drug Use. or

Most parolees would

be sent to the central testing center by their parole agents for a chemical test at least once every two weeks. The detection of drug use in that way resulted in the parolee 's placement in jail and the suspension of his parole. Parole agents were also called in by house staff to talk to residents about the violation of house rules, particularly when the resident had established a pattern of violations. The extent of resident violations that was visible to and noted by staff, however, was only hinted at in the rates that were generated by these routine surveillance procedures. Some deviance was seen in the very appearance of the halfway house itself, while other deviance was seen through the behavior of the men them selves when interpreted as possible

signs of deviance, rather than

being judged as deviant or conforming in itself. Staff continuously assessed the behavior and appearance of the residents and the house itself for evidences of drug use and other criminal activity. Violations of house rules were used diagnostically in this way by staff, as well as being attended to as violations in themselves. Before an enumeration of these diagnostic devices can be clearly made, however, some other matters concerning the rates of deviance need to be clarified.

Excursus pertaining to talk about actual rates o drug use. f


common view of addiction that was proposed in and around half way house was that every ex-addict parolee was either presently a user or was exceedingly likely to begin using at any time. This common talk about users was directly expressed in staff meetings, informal bull sessions between staff members, between staff members holding a case conference, in discussions between staff and researchers, and in both formal and informal discussions between staff and residents. Residents, too, both directly and indirectly acknowledged this thesis in their talk. This view was also reiterated by staff and residents in their interviews with me. I asked both groupslO the following question :
11) A serial sample of residents was drawn. Each resident who was available



"Suppose ten guys come out of prison who had been addicted before they went to prison. How many of them do you think will use stuff within a month (after release) ?" Of the residents, 30 % the first month, while 83


said that all ten former addicts would resume heroin use within

% (50)

said that at least half (five of ten)

of the former addicts would resume use within the first month after release. Staff answers to the question were remarkably the same. Of the staff, 20 % (2) said that all ten would use within the first month, while 60 % (6) said that at least half of the former addicts would resume use within the first month after release. When the question was extended to, "How many will use within the first six months ?",11 56 % (33) of the residents and 40 % (4) of the staff said that all of the released former addicts would resume the use of heroin. Of the residents,

88 % (52)

and 90 % (9)

of the staff said that at least six of ten released former addicts would resume use within the first six months.12 What staff and residents said in the interview paralleled what they said in other contexts when I was present. When house staff complained that use in the house was chronically high and that something in particular should be done, parole agent staff fre quently countered with the statement that at least one-third of their case load on the street was using at any one time, so there was 'nothing special to be excited about'. Residents said essentially the same thing to staff. A common complaint about the house, which was made by parolees to staff when it was suggested that they might live in the halfway house (or when they were already living there and were asking to go home), was that there was so much use there that they found abstinence difficult.
was interviewed within two days after he entered. This procedure was continued until sixty-four residents were interviewed. The interviewing started in August and ended in December of 1966. Although the intention was to interview each new resident, seven residents who entered during this peJ.iod were not available. Four were unavailable because they left the house without leave before they could be interviewed, and three either refused or made themselves otherwise unavailable. For the question above, answers from only sixty of the


sixty-four residents interviewed are available. Fifty-nine residents answered this question. For some additional figures, see Wieder (1 969 : 125-1 26).



Thus, both staff and residents said that the use of drugs was extremely common, even more common than the actual rates of absconding or capture would suggest. In all occasions I observed (or even heard about) in which residents made reference to the fact of use, they never supplied the specifics of who was using or how it was done. Staff, however, showed me and showed others direct and indirect evidence of drug use. As indicated in the estimated rates, every parolee was suspect and, in turn, staff reported13 on the drug use which they saw all around them.

Deviance visible through the demeanor and response o individuals f when displays are seen as signs o deviance rather than judged as f f deviant or con orming in themselves. - During my stay at halfway
house, I spent perhaps thirty percent of my time following staff's work. In watching what they told each other, pointed out to each other, and told and pointed out to me, it became evident that they spent much of their time scanning the scene for evidences of drug use and other criminality. Tey spoke of this task, to me and to each other, as a task of grea t importance. It was readily acknow ledged as a chief responsibility of their work and was spoken of as a task which, if left undone, would have dire consequences for the organization. What staff was doing in scanning for drug use can be described in terms of a procedure that staff taught me and used in my presence. In a fashion much like that described by Skolnick

(1967 : 120-121) in his account of how narcotics officers go about

their work, staff gave special attention to the actions of ex-addicts in attempting to find out what they were doing. This attention diff ered f rom the attention given to the actions of any other persons in two ways. First, any perceived action could be addressed under the aUspices of the question, "Is it evidence of drug use,

Reporte4 to each other, that is. The only use that was reported to the Adult Authority was that detected through confession or chemical test. In fact, confessions were frequently not reported. Results of chemical tests which indicated use were always reported, as those reports were already records of the bureaucracy, and drug use was thereby no longer a plivate matter between the agent and his parolee.



or drug sales, or not ?" Second, what would ordinarily pass as 'nothing much to be noticed' (e.g., the way someone stands) could be closely scrutinized. In light of the rates of 'perceived use' reported above, the questions, "Is he using

again 1" and "Is he dealing again 7" were

questions that were continually being directed toward the behavior of every resident. The whole environment of halfway house was organized under the auspices of this query, i.e., that environment was organized, in analyzing it, by the staff in order to answer the question, "Is Joe using again ?" or "Is Joe dealing again ?" The equivocal sense of perceived objects and events was organized for the staff and by the staff by use of the scheme of relevancies provided by the query about use. Two f eatures of this . scanning and questioning activity make it unlike the perception of ordinary aff airs. As previously noted, the staff did not treat the reports of residents about their own activities or the activities of others as factual. They found that they could ,not directly ask questions of the residents about deviant behavior

an assume that they had

a faithf answer, nor could they overhear such talk among the ul residents. Thus, verbal reports were, by and large, not useful to staff. Residents who confessed that they had been using and now wanted to stop were the single exception to this. (Staff took it that only a small portion of residents who used confessed.) Second, the kind of behavior staff was looking for was not typically open to direct observation. Residents did not knowingly 'shoot dope ' in front of staff. Although occasionally staff would walk into the men's restroom and find a resident with his belt around his arm (a tourniquet) and a needle with an eyedropper (a homemade syringe) in his arm, these occurrences had the appearance of being unintended by the residents and a surprise to the staff.

Deviance evidenced through a search o the physical environment. f

The house itself was examined (usually about once a week by the house manager) as a place where narcotics were being used, where



'fits' (narcotics paraphernalia) were stored, where 'stashes' (of drugs) were hidden, and, under a different temporal scheme, where dealing was occurring. This search was made by addressing every part of the physically displayed halfway house with the question, "What narcotic-deviant course of action could have produced this particular display I see before me now 1" Floors, particularly in the bathrooms and basement, were examined. If piles of matches were encountered, they were identified as the by-product of cooking heroin.14 The back;s of toilets, the insides of air vents, the interiors of floor standing ash trays, and the insides of fuse boxes were all viewed as potential hiding places and were searched for 'fits' and 'stashes'. The inside and outside of the house were examined for anything interpretable as a sign of narcotic use. The underside of the halfway house occasionally gave signs of having been entered, e.g.,

an air vent out of place was interpreted as indicating that that

area had been used as a 'shooting gallery' (a place to use drugs). Similarly, a box found out of place in the basement was seen as having been moved so that some resident could stash drugs some where in the upper regions of an unfinished wall. And a piece of paper with a black oval smudge on it (indicating its having been used to clean and/or wrap a heroin-cooking spoon), found under a bed, was identified as a wrapping for an outfit. Several features of the search need emphasis. Many of the displays were encountered as something out of place which could be explained as a phase-in-consuming-narcotics, an instance of the general phenomena of attending displays as a phase-of-the-action. The box out of place was seeable by staff as a makeshift step ladder used in hiding a 'stash' or 'fit' that someone would have to have (and have to hide) if they were to shoot drugs. Such an inter pretation stands in contrast to other possible interpretations, e.g., someone moved it in their search for some particular supplies in the room or moved it to sit on it. The very appearances them selves are notable only under a conception of the consumption of

Heroin is prepared by mixing the powder and some water in a spoon and then heating it.



narcotics as a sequence of more or less clearly known steps. The searcher does not know specifically what he is looking for or the sense he will make of it until he encounters it in a particular context. While a pile of matches was understood as evidence of use, it had to be found in a place in which it would be plausible to use drugs. Therefore, those places in the halfway house that residents had easy and constant access to, were close at hand for the residents, offered some privacy, and that residents could go to with some frequency without raising questions were more closely scrutinized by staff. That evidence of various sorts was found in such places heightened staff's tendency to interpret any particular thing found as evidence of use. Thus, something found out of place in the front room or a pile of matches found in the kitchen would be less likely to be interpreted as the residue of use than if it had been found in the bathroom. The search, then, was continually being informed not only by a knowledge of the steps involved in using drugs, but was also informed by imputed motives which were assumed to accompany the use of drugs, i.e., that a user would be concerned with privacy, with getting his drugs quickly when he wanted them, and with being able to get them without raising questions about what he was doing. Attention to these informing considerations excluded some areas of the house from frequent search. For example, the house manager told me he did not inspect behind grates that were fastened with screws, since no hype would want to go to that much effort when he felt in need of a 'geez' (an injection of heroin). The halfway house was regularly and systematically searched by the house manager and was continually being inspected in the same fashion by staff as they happened to be walking around in it. When relatively clear evidence was found, staff ordered all residents to submit to a chemical test. When such tests were ordered, it frequently happened that some residents would flee the scene (which was seen by staff as evidence that they were using drugs) and that at least one resident who stayed would be detected as having recently used drugs.


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Deviance evidenced through an inspection o persons. f

The same

kind of considerations used in inspecting the house itself were used in the assessment of the appearance and behavior of the residents. Here too, behaviors and physical appearances were understood as phases in more or less well known sequences. The police refer to such actions as 'furtive actions' (cf. Skolnick,

1967 : 1 20-121). Through a briefly seen 'furtive action', a whole

series of prior actions are seen by the viewer as also indicated. For example, when the police see that the movement of a man's hand to his mouth is an attempt to dispose of incriminating evidence, they are seeing in a glance that that movement is a final step in an unobserved sequence : the man is a criminal, he saw the police coming, he anticipated contact with the police, he sought to avoid the consequences of that contact, and then and therefore did the thing the police actually observed. What the police in their investigation thereafter must do is demonstrate the unequivocal meaning of the display. The potentially incrim inating display itself gives them the legal ground for further search. The appearances of residents of halfway house were continuously treated as potentially incriminating. However, the staff of the halfway house treated their responsibilities as more extensive than those of the police. They said that they were properly concerned not only with ongoing deviance, but also with deviance that was about to happen, not just in the sense that it was planned (for the police, too, are concerned with this), but also in the sense that someone was getting into a state in which he was likely to commit a deviant act. Many equivocal signs that the staff used for seeing deviance were treated by them as indicating the possible use of drugs,

and, if not that, then those same signs indicated that drug

use or other criminality was imminent. To give some sense of the particulars of their inspection, I list some of the displays that staff saw as evidence of use. It should be noted that full suspicion was most often activated by some pattern of these particulars taken in conjunction with whatever history the resident had established, so that many of these displays done in isolation would not have rendered the resident suspect.

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Drug use was seen by staff in the residents' bodily states. One manifestation was pupil size. When staff noted that a resident's pupils were smaller than normal (as compared with others in the room) or that his pupil size did not change with changing light conditions, they saw that the resident was likely to be using drugs through that bodily display. Other bodily states which were taken as symptomatic of drug use also told staff something about the recency and/or amount of heroin that the resident had injected. Being 'on the nod' is the most exaggerated state of drug intoxi cation - to go beyond this state is to pass out. Staff and residents identified persons 'on the nod' through that person's stuperous, slouching, faintly moving body. Typically, a user who is 'on the nod' will be enjoying an injected opiate by more or Jess lying back on a chair, closing his eyes, and rhythmically moving his body (typically, moving his head back and forth - hence, 'nodding') so as to 'feel the warmth of the dope in his body'. If he were not so 'loaded', but nevertheless strongly under the influence of an opiate, he would present the appearance of being drunk, through a lack of coordination and euphoria (smillng and laughing). When staff saw a resident who looked drunk or nearly drunk but who was not reputed to be a drinker, they supposed that he was under the influence of opiates, synthetic opiates, or barbiturates. One who is 'under the influence', yet is either carefully controlling it or is less 'loaded', gives off less obvious bodily signs of drug use. The user might appear to be ill or walk with a slouch or have slackened cheek muscles. When staff saw a resident in such a state, they were likely to suspect that he was using drugs. Residents' displayed affective states were also used by staff as indicators of drug use. Signs of indifference were taken by staff to be often drug-induced, since opiates and other depressants are said to focus one's attention on his own private pleasures and focus attention away from the way one appears to and is related to others. Therefore, when staff encountered a resident who was notably passive, or notably sloppy, or less neat than that particular resident usually was, they would suspect that he was using drugs. They might also suspect that if he were 'merely depressed' and


1 07

not giving off these signs because of drug use, that that depression itself would lead to drug use. Therefore, displayed indifference or depression was notable for staff in any case. Staff also noted changes in or slightly exaggerated forms of any affective state as signs of drug use. Depression, more displayed hostility than usual from this particular resident, and even more friendliness than usual from this particular resident were treated as potential signs of drug use. Manifested 'irresponsibility' was treated in a similar way by staff. Staff spoke of 'not meeting one's commitments ' or 'not taking care of business' (not paying one's bill, not abiding by curfew, or not coming to group) as indicating that something was awry with the man. It might have been that he was using and therefore did those things, or that he was 'badly motivated ' and therefore was likely to use, or that these indicators were the inci dental by-products of some other activity. For example, he was spending his money on drugs and therefore could not pay his bill, or he was spending his time 'partying' with drugs and therefore did not make curfew. Residents who did not actively seek work were viewed in the same light, though they might also have been suspected of selling drugs and, therefore, had no need to actively search for a job. Some displays were described by staff as showing delinquent intent, which led staff to suspect that a particular resident was using drugs. A resident could show his essential delinquency by spending an unusual amount of time talking about prison or about lives of crime. Spending time with other residents who later ran from the house or were caught for drugs was taken as indicating a willingness to associate with 'bad characters' and thereby pointed to a likely interest in illegitimate activities. Bringing a stranger into the halfway house or smuggling a friend into the house for a place to sleep were also taken to indicate a delinquent character and would, cion. Erratic behavior (e.g., being up very late at night, falling asleep on a hard bench, shadow boxing in the shower) was taken as a therefore, bring a resident under general suspi



likely indicator of some kind of drug use, though not necessarily a sign of opiate use. Another set of behaviors which, when identified, brought the resident under suspicion were patterns which could be seen as phases in some sort of criminal activity. Receiving many phone calls, going in and out the door many times, looking out the window for sustained periods of time as if looking for a pickup or delivery, and having money but no job were all seen as activities of the sort a drug dealer would do, and they, thereby, were grounds for suspicion in any observed case. Persons would also be brought under suspicion if they could be associated with some delinquent-indicating event. For example, if paraphernalia were discovered shortly after one resident moved into the house, that resident might be suspect. Or if a fire door were broken so as to permit easy and secret entrance and exit, the resident whose bed was nearest the door would likely be suspected of being 'up to something'. This order of suspicion was greatly strengthened if some other indicator displayed by the resident also pointed to some form of deviance. Finally, though this list is by no means exhaustive, residents could draw suspicion to themselves by behaviors which could function as 'covers' . In treating a displayed body or act as a cover, staff attended the perceived thing for the ways in which it could be hiding something, rather than 'for itself'. Some covers literally covered part of the body. Inasmuch as long-sleeved shirts, tatoos, burns, cuts, and scratches on the arms could cover needle marks, and sunglasses could cover pupil size, when these items were employed in an even slightly out of ordinary context (or when 'covers ' on the arm were fresh), they were seen by staff as evidence of drug use and thereby brought the wearer under suspicion. Residents were seen to employ various measures to obscure what they were 'really up to ' which were 'seen through' by staff, i.e., 'seen through' in the sense that the obscuring routine drew attention to rather than away from the resident, even if he did not intend the act or sequence of acts to be obscuring in the first place.



Since some stages of drug use produce bodily appearances similar to minor illness, these bodily states can be 'explained away' by the claim of illness. However, since staff knew about the possibility of that sort of cover, the claim of illness (even if legitimate) tended to draw suspicious attention to the 'sick' resident. Similarly, since persons could hide their visible


by staying away from

staff, whenever staff did not see a resident as often as they previously had seen him, that resident was likely to come under suspicion. Staff suspicion was enhanced when they read in the log (which was kept by the student professional assistant during the evening) that that particular resident checked out just before staff arrived in the morning and checked in just after staff left in the evening. Staff's suspicion would also be raised if they discovered that the SPA had recorded in his log that two men left and came back to the halfway house together, while what those residents had written on the residents' sign-in - sign-out sheet indicated that they had left and returned at non-coinciding times.

Finally, there were sevral ways that missing a scheduled nalline test for opiates was Understood by staff as a possible cover for the use of drugs. Residents were seen as attempting to hide their drug use when their excuse for not testing was implausible, when they missed several consecutive tests no matter how plausible the excuse, and when a resident drew attention to himself by announcing that he was going to test (in response to receiving a notice to test), but then did not go to the testing center. When staff encountered these 'suspicious displays', it did not necessarily lead to immediate action on their part for several reasons. Even when staff members' suspicions were relatively well-aroused, house staff were frequently reluctant to pursue their investigation directly by interrogating the man under suspicion, checking his arms for marks, and/or asking him to submit to a chemical test. To pursue every suspicion in that way would have resulted in what staff called 'acting like a bull' (prison guard) and 'playing cops and robbers' with the men (permitting all interactions with the men to be heavily tainted with overtones of suspicion). Both of those modes of staff behavior were negatively

1 10


sanctioned at halfway house, especially by the parole agents. Whenever surveillance was a topic of staff meetings, the program director argued and the other staff members concurred that they did not want the residents to feel that they were in prison and that they did not want their relationship with the residents to be ]ike that between residents and police. They said in these meetings that if staff were to be overly visibly involved in surveillance and investigation, it would put pressure on the residents that would likely result in enhancing the possibility that they would return to drug use. When one staff member pursued residents on the basis of 'small evidence', other staff would speak of him in his presence as 'handcuff happy', 'a bull', and 'liking the game of cops and robbers'. Staff not only received negative sanctions from their peers in trying to track down drug use on the basis of small evidence, but their encounters with the residents when they did that also became noticeably unpleasant. When I was with a staff member when he did interrogations of this sort, he complained to me about his distaste for having to be 'a cop'. Instead of pursuing each and every suspicion, staff (a) watched the man in question more closelY for other evidence that he might be using, (b) turned any occasion in which the resident in question violated an explicit rule (which would routinely result in a con frontation between staff and that resident about the violation) into an occasion in which they asked the resident to display his arms and give a urine sample for clinical test, and (c) reported their suspicions to the resident's parole agent and asked that the man be sent to the central testing center for a routine 'surprise' injection of nalline. In these three ways, staff was able to act on their suspicions without having those suspicions be the constant theme of their interactions with the residents. But it also meant that the staff were seeing more deviance around them than they were acting on, since they would often be waiting for 'further evidence' before doing something. Deviance that staff saw and that staff dealt with had further organizational meanings than I have indicated 'here. These further



meanings will be treated later. For the time being, I merely want to establish the point that widespread drug use and rule violations were noticeable to staff and were the source of considerable organizationally relevant work on their part.


Direct observation of the behavior of residents at the halfway house established a series of regular, repetitive patterns which were deviant when compared to the 'programmatic ideals ', 'the routines ', and the 'rules' of halfway house. With great regularity, the residents observably distanced themselves from staff by physical movement and through their conversational styles. In the ways they positioned their bodies to show attention and respect and through what they said to staff, residents showed their disinterest and lack of respect for the program of the halfway house. Rather than being willing participants, residents were merely passively com pliant with staff demands, doing only what staff directly demanded and sanctioned with explicit rewards and punishments. Rather than being self-reliant, residents demanded assistance from the staff in accomplishing many mundane tasks. Residents typically could not be counted on a s reliable sources of information about their own plans. Nor could they be relied upon to keep agreements, making it difficult for them to assume 'responsible roles' in the organization. Nor would residents serve as a reliable source of information about their own behavior or the behavior of their peers. They were in every respect unreliable informants . . Thus, the halfway house was by no means an organization in which staff and residents worked together to provide a program of rehabilitation for the residents. The patterned behavior of the residents undermined such a program at every turn. Beyond the residents ' behavior which vitiated the joint program of rehabilitation, residents were also deviant in their frequent violation of halfway house routines and rules. Not only did they violate such house rules as curfew and mandatory 'group', but

1 12


they also used drugs and sold drugs in and from the halfway house with great regularity.


of these patterns were visible not only to the researcher,

but to the staff as well. For the staff, these patterns were a source of complaint and required additional organizational effort on their part. Both staff and researcher were concerned with ex plaining these behaviors, and, as will be shown in succeeding chapters, both typically came to the same explanation, and both were assisted in these explanations by the deviant residents them selves.


This chapter examines the convict code, which is the classical or traditional explanation of those forms of deviant behavior engaged in by inmates, convicts, or residents of rehabilitative organizations. In traditional analyses of deviant behavior, some subversive or contra-culture normative order is searched out by the analyst and utilized by him as an explanation for the behavior patterns he has observed. In the case of prisons and related organizations, the 'convict code' is typically encountered by the researc:;her and employed as such an explanation.

The Code as an Explicitly Verbalized Moral Order

My participant observation detected a code which was operative at halfway house. My principal resident informants, whom I came to know over a period of several months, and with whom I had at least several conversations a week and often several a day, spoke readily of a code. They called this code activities that they

the code and told of a set of should and should not engage in. They also

spoke of 'regular guys' (followers of the code) and said that every one of the residents at the halfway house was a regular guy. They explained to me that everyone there had 'done a lot of time' and had even learned the code much earlier than their prison experiences, as hypes on the street.

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The Code and Explicitly Verbalized Sanctions

Residents of the halfway house, like inmates as they are described in the literature on prisons, spoke clearly about the ways in which the code was enforced. As traditionally reported, and as I observed in the case of the halfway house, enforcement of the code by inmates or residents is closely related to the use of social types. The code is generally enforced by inmates through their application of a label or social-type name to those inmates who are seen by members of the group as deviating from the code. In the case of the halfway house, the only deviant types or labels that I regularly heard were 'kiss ass', 'snitch', and 'sniveler'. To be called a 'kiss ass' meant that one was too close to staff. The title 'snitch' was employed to designate another as an informer. 'Sniveler' was employed to designate another resident as one who chronically complained to staff and pleaded with staff for better treatment. Residents spoke of kissing ass, snitching, and sniveling as clearly moral matters which required their attention and intervention. Sanctions directed against the sniveler were minor when com pared with the measures taken against the snitch and kiss ass. A sniveler would be spoken of as a 'fool' and 'not like one ofus'. Sanctions directed against kiss asses and snitches, while more potent, were spoken of with less clarity and uniformity. At times, residents said that kiss asses would be frozen out of contact with the other 'guys' and that immediate violence would be done against snitches. At other times, residents spoke of the 'fact' that violations of the code would be remembered and dealt with later. That is, the reprehensible one would, like all other residents, at some time return to the 'joint' (prison). In the joint, his repre hensible reputation would be spread, and at that point he would not be trusted by the other cons and would be suspected by the other cons on each occasion in which they thOUght someone had snitched.



pecifics o the Code at Halfway House f The S

The code was often spoken of by residents as containing a set of maxims. While a specific resident could not recite all of the maxims, what residents said about the code can be formulated in that fashion. As a set of maxims, the code in its specifics is as follows : 1.

Above all else, do not snitch.

Informing was regarded as Snitching would per

an act directed not simply against an individual, but against the whole collection of deviant colleagues. manently jeopardize a resident's standing with other hypes, residents, and inmates. His reputation would be spread throughout the whole deviant community, and he would find that he could no longer operate with other deviants. There was only one actual case in which I observed snitching or possible snitching as a real issue (as compared to a potential or hypothetical issue) at the halfway house. And the only reason this case was observable to me was because a resident who was fearful that others regarded him as a snitch told the following story to his parole agent, who in tum told me. 'Pablo' came to his parole agent, telling him of his anxiety about a parolee who was about to move into the halfway house. Years before, the two men had used and sold drugs together. Both were arrested, but charges were dropped against Pablo, while the other man was tried. Pablo said that the other man thought Pablo had informed on him, though Pablo told him he had not. Now Pablo wanted release from the halfway house because of what that man might do and how the other residents might treat him if the other man ever talked about him. Except for this incident, I observed no cases of residents' being identified as snitches. I did, however, hear talk about specific snitches who were not residents (other men in prison or in the community), as well as much talk about snitches and snitching in general.

2. Do not cop out.

That is, do not admit that you have done

something illegal or illegitimate. Someone who turned himself in



willingly would be regarded as strange, 'not like us', dumb, and probably not trustworthy, because to 'cop out' was a form of defecting to the other side. To turn oneself in could be viewed as a form of defection, because it implied agreement with the standards that one had violated. To turn oneself in to a parole agent when one was about to be caught anyway or when one was 'tired of running' and likely to get caught by the police, however, was not talked about as 'copping out'. 3.

Do not take advantage of other residents.

This maxim was

principally directed against thievery among residents. However, if a resident had something stolen from him, it was his own respon sibility to take care of the thief. Unlike the case of the snitch, a resident could not count on others to negatively sanction the thief. Residents were prohibited by the code from appealing to staff for assistance in locating the stolen goods.

4. Share what you have.

A regular resident should be relatively

generous with other residents in terms of his money, clothes, and wine. If he used drugs, he should offer a 'taste' to others that were around when he 'geezed'. He should share drugs with his closest friends and sell drugs to others, if he had more than he needed. He should share his 'fit' (syringe and spoon) with others and 'score' (purchase drugs) for those who could not find a con nection (source of drugs).

5. Hel other residents. p

This maxim was principally a directive

to help one's fellows avoid detection and punishment. It included 'standing point' for them (being a lookout for staff or the police when the other was involved in a compromising activity, such as injecting drugs), warning them about suspicions that staff had, telling staff that they were ignorant about the activities of other residents, so as not to help staff indirectly investigate another gUy,l arguing with staff on the behalf of another resident, providing

Also included generally under the rule, 'do not snitch'.



cover stqries for other residents, helping another resident sneak into the house after curfew, etc.

6. Do not mess with other residents' interests.

A resident should

not prevent others from enjoying their deviance, should not disapprove of it, and should not in any way draw staff's attention to it. This includes not 'bringing the heat' by engaging in sus picious actions or by getting into an unnecessary altercation with staff. For example, one could 'bring the heat' by leaving evidence of drug use around the house which would lead staff to suspect everybody. 7.

Do not trust sta - sta is heat. ff ff

This maxim simply says

that in the final analysis staff cannot be trusted, because one of staff's principal occupational duties is to detect deviance. Anything a resident might let them know about himself or others could, in some presently unknown fashion, be used by them to send him or someone else back to the joint. So, if a resident has anything deviant going for him at all (like having a common law wife, occasionally using heroin, having user friends in his house, or even using marijuana), he is well advised not to let his agent know his real residence and to give his mother's address instead. In this way he avoids letting his agent know anything that might lead to the discovery of his deviant doings. This advice holds even if a resident is on the best of terms with his agent.

8. Show your loyalty to the residents.

Staff, in fact, is 'the enemy',

and a resident's actions should show that he recognizes this. He should not 'kiss ass', do favors for staff, be friendly to staff, take their side in an argument, or accept the legitimacy of their rules. Any of these acts can be understood as a defection to their side, and makes a resident suspect of being the kind of 'guy' that would snitch. It is not that being friendly to staff or complying with staff's regulations is intrinsically illegitimate, but these matters indicate what kind of person one is and that one, thereby, may not be trustworthy in protecting residents and their interests.

1 18


If a resident makes it clear in other ways (as, for example, in his

private dealings with other residents) that he indeed is on the residents' side, these signalizing activities may then be understood in other ways by the other residents. They may be understood as efforts to manipulate staff in some concrete way, e.g., a resident wants them to give him the best jobs they have, or wants to make the kind of impression on his parole agent that will lead the agent away from suspecting him when he otherwise might.

The Code as Explanation f Resident Behavior or

Treating the rules of the code as maxims of conduct that residents follow and enforce upon one another provides a traditional socio logical explanation for the regular patterns of deviant behavior that were observed in the halfway house. The rules account for that behavior in the following specific ways. If residents comply with the maxim, 'Show your loyalty to the residents', then they would be motivated to avoid spending time with staff, avoid lively conversation with staff, and, by the use of Spanish and other conversational devices, would exclude staff from their conversations. The injunction against trusting staff, not letting staff know about residents' doings as a way of protecting other residents, and even the injunction against 'snitching'2 are also fulfilled (in part) in the avoidance behavior 'doing distance'.
Further, residents can show their loyalty to each other by dis

playing a lack of enthusiasm for what staff proposes in group, by not paying attention in group, by verbally demeaning the program in group, and by not staying around after group to talk with staff about the program. That is, showing where one's loyalties are can be accomplished by dispJaying the behaviors

'disinterest and

The relationship of 'doing distance' to 'snitching' requires further explana tion. Residents explained to me that being aloof from staff, which can be accomplished by 'doing distance', indicates to others that one would not snitch. If one did not stay aloof, then special effort would be required to retain the trust of other residents.


1 19

disrespect'. Similarly, by complying with no more than what staff demands and explicitly sanctions ('passive compliance ') and by attempting to get staff to do what they hope a resident will do for himself ('demands and requests'), one can, thereby, also show his loyalties by doing as little as possible for 'the enemy' and taking him for whatever one can get. Patterns of lying and generally being a bad informant, which left staff ignorant of what was actually happening at the moment, ignorant of what a resident would do, and ignorant of whether or not he would do as he had promised, are provided for in the maxims, 'Do not snitch', 'Do not cop out', 'Do not trust staff', 'Help other inmates', and 'Do not mess with other residents ' interests'. The maxim, 'Do not snitch', directs the resident to avoid letting staff share any of his knowledge of other residents. 'Do not cop out' directs him to prevent staff from knowing about his own activities. These same maxims would lead residents to prevent staff from hearing anything about what residents were doing, including who is friends with whom, who is physically in the house, that drugs are being used (which is different from snitching, which would be that 'Jones ' is using drugs), and often whether or not one resident even knows another. Patterns of violating rmes and routines are protected, supported, and encouraged by the code, though they are not directly prescribed. While there is nothing in the code which says 'miss group', 'be late for curfew', 'bring wine into the house', or 'use drugs', any of these activities, especially the use of drugs, is a relatively clear sign of one's loyalties. Residents sometimes told me that they took drugs that were offered to them, because refusing would indicate that they disapproved of drug use or were 'taking to heart' staff hopes that they womd not use drugs. Patterns of deviant behavior were protected by maxims of the code which required that (a) other residents help those who chose to violate the 'ru1es' and 'routines ', (b) other residents cover for those who needed it (standing point, providing excuses and alibis, sneaking them into the house when the 'night watchman ' [SPA] was not looking, etc.), and (c) no resident let staff verbally know

1 20


about deviant activities. Deviant activities were further supported by the set of rules which said that residents should let each other do whatever deviant (from staff's point of view) thing they chose, and if they were to engage in deviant consumption of wine and drugs, that these should be shared with others. In this fashion, the code as I found it at halfway house would explain the patterns of deviance that I observed there. The code provides the motivations to engage in those patterns, to positively sanction those patterns, and to not interfere with those patterns even if a resident were to find it in his own interest to do so. This form of explanation is traditional in the analysis of correctional organizations and has its direct analog in traditional analyses of other forms of deviant behavior.

The Sociological Literature on the Convict Code

Although patterns of deviant behavior are traditionally explained by reference to a set of rules like the convict code, explanations are often not the focus of traditional research. In many areas of sociology, including the analysis of sub-cultures or contra cultures in the prison setting, only the earliest studies focus on explaining observed patterns of behavior in terms of rules. Later studies explore such matters as the functional relationships between the rules or normative culture detected in early studies and other elements of organization. Therefore, in the research on the prison, many studies report variations in normative orders without indicating any patterns of behavior that inmate compliance to such contra-normative orders would produce (e.g., Weinberg, 1 942 ; Caldwell, 1 956; Galtung, 1958). Other studies show the ways that the code and the social types that revolve around it make inmates ' behavior understandable (e.g., Sykes and Messinger, 1 960), predictable (e.g., Schragg, 1 944), and characterizable as repudiating institutional norms (e.g., Cloward, 1 960) without specifying observed patterns of behavior which would be produced by the rules under consideration. Most recent research is concerned with the practical import


1 21

of the convict code as an impediment to rehabilitation and/or treatment. One set of studies explores the relationship between types of prison administration and the extent to which the code is elaborated and enforced (e.g., Grusky, Street,

1959 ; McLeery, 1961 a, b; 1965 ; Berk, 1966; Street, Vintner, and Perrow, 1966 ; and Studt, Messinger, and Wilson, 1968). Another set of studies is
directed at detecting the conditions under which varying degrees of compliance with the code are fostered (Wheeler, bedian,

196 1 ; Gara 1963 ; Tittle and Tittle, 1964; and Ward and Kassbaum,

1965). For the interests of my research, these studies document

the fact that the code, although varied in the extent of its elaboration and enforceability, is widely found. Another set of studies, to be reviewed below, is considerably more detailed in the ways the code is used to analyze and account for inmate behavior.

Studies Which Employ the Code to Analyze and Account f Inmate Behavior or
In what is generally regarded as the first major study of prisons, Clemmer, in

The Pru,on Community (1 940), portrays the formal

organization of the prison, the daily round of life in prison, and the prison 'culture'. His principal thesis is that this prison culture, which is partially assimilated by all prisoners and wholly assi milated by twenty to forty percent, turns those convicted of crimes into even more anti-social persons. The code detected at the halfway house was strikingly similar to that described by Clemmer. He counts the code as one of the fundamental social controls among the inmate population. It revolves around two propositions : 'Don't help the officials' and 'Do help your fellow inmates'. Thus, Clemmer's prisonized inmate would not snitch, would regard officials as his enemy and would show this by, for example, not talking to them except about 'business', and would assist his fellow inmates by helping them avoid detection in their deviance. He proposed that the code "does control conduct in many instances and tends to control it in other instances"

(p. 1 40).

Throughout the rest of the volume,

1 22


interspersed in his discussion of rules, patterns of leisure, patterns of work, and sexual patterns, he cites a variety of examples of complying with the code. He recites incidents in which one inmate would not inform on two other inmates who stole his cat (p. 1 58) I and another who would not inform on an inmate who knifed him (p. 164) as instances of complying with the code. He cites stealing food from the institution (p. 160) and sharing that stolen food with inmates who have just gotten off bread and water (p. 164) as further instances. In a variety of contexts, he shows patterns of hostility (exhibited toward the guards) which are produced by inmates complying with the code. Cursing and denouncing the guards is described as necessary for the inmate who wishes to retain the respect of his fellows. Being insolent to the guards and threatening them is depicted as giving the inmate prestige among his fellows (pp. 1 96, 304). Other patterns of behavior and attitude associated with compliance to the code include not respecting prison rules (p. 195), talking about criminal exploits, stealing from the prison, gambling, and engaging in homosexual behavior (p. 304). Though Clemmer's analysis of the code is scattered throughout this work, he does analyze patterns of deviant behavior as the outcome of what he calls "prisonization", which is principally socialization to the convict code. Historically, the next major piece of prison research was Sykes' The Society 0 Ca / ptives. Sykes' strategy was to account for the inmate social system by proposing that it developed as a protective device to insulate the inmate from the pains of imprisonment which amount to an attack' on his self-conception. The inmate social system protects the self-conception by providing a social world in which the inmate can have status and in which he can believe that it is his captors who are immoral and incompetent rather than himself. Sykes' analysis of the code is embedded in this thesis, and his presentation of the code is embedded in a system of social types which revolve around the code, each social type representing a pattern of compliance with or deviance from the code.


1 23

In Sykes' description, the staff of the maximum security prison he studied, like the staff of the halfway house, was "engaged in a continuous struggle to maintain order" (Sykes, 1 958 : 42). He lists fifteen rule violations which were reported during one week, indicating that both inmates and officials agreed that the actual offense rate was much higher. Sykes argues that inmates violate rules because they lack a sense of duty to comply with them (p. 47). They lack this sense of duty because of the nature of the inmate social world (p. 62), which leads them to violate institutional regulations by coercion of fellow prisoners, fraud, gambling, homosexuality, sharing of stolen supplies, and so on. That social world is characterized in terms of a set of argot roles (pp. 84-1 08) which simultaneously deal with the major problems of prison life and are the devices for indicating inmate admiration for and disapproval of the behavior of their fellow inmates. Thus, each type represents the moral standing of the inmate to which it is applied. The term 'rat ' is applied to inmates who have betrayed their fellows by violating the rule, 'Do not snitch'. The 'center man' would correspond to the kiss-ass in the halfway house, for he is disloyal to his fellow inmates by displaying the attitudes of the custodians - frequently not because he agrees with them, but in order to manipulate them. The 'gorilla' exploits his fellow inmates by use or threat of violence, while the 'merchant' exploits them by inappropriately selling goods stolen from the prison, which in terms of the code should be freely shared. Both gorillas and merchants are despised for their violation of the ideals of inmate solidarity. Inmates who react with violence toward the officials are referred to as 'ball busters ', while those who are quick . to fight with their fellow inmates are called 'toughs'. Though inmates are ambivalent toward both types, they have more respect for the 'tough', because the 'ball buster' brings the 'heat' (more surveillance and stricter enforcement of the rules) down on the whole inmate population. He violates the maxim, 'don't cause unnecessary trouble'. The one type that inmates unequivocally admire is the 'real man', who exemplifies compliance with the convict code. He is able to 'take it '. He has strength. He exem-

1 24


plifies "masculine mannerisms and inward stamina" (p. 101) and "confronts his captors with neither subservience nor aggression" (p. 1 02). Sykes proposes that by responding to one another as 'real men' (complying with the code), inmates reduce the pains of imprisonment and can achieve a sense of self-respect. They would thereby have no sense of duty toward the institutional rules and in turn would enact the patterns of deviant behavior he observed.3 In a more recent study, Garabedian (1 964) follows Sykes by treating the code in terms of the social types that revolve around it. Using attitudinal items on an anonymous questionnaire submitted to a sample of 345 inmates of a maximum security prison, Gara bedian was able to detect the social types of 'square Johns', 'politicians', 'right guys', and 'outlaws'. He reports a series of behaviors associated with the types that are similar to the patterns of deviant behavior detected at halfway house. Extent of par ticipation in staff-sponsored programs, amount of contact with staff, knowledge of the therapeutic program of the institution, and numbers of rule violations committed all vary with social type. Similar to Sykes' findings, the rank order of compliance to staff's regulations and 'hopes' was 'square Johns', 'politicians', 'right guys', and 'outlaws'. This finding indicates that the activities of nonparticipation in staff programs, not having contacts with staff, not having knowledge of the therapeutic programs, and committing rule violations were all associated with commitment to the code. A further example of behaviors caused by the code is the open display of hostility toward staff which often occurs when inmates attend group therapy. Ohlin (1 956) proposes that the act of going to therapy is viewed by nonparticipating inmates as violating those tenets of the code which prohibit contact with staff. In turn, those inmates put pressure on the inmate who goes to therapy
However, in another account of the same research in which Sykes contrasts 'real men', 'merchants', and 'toughs', he finds that while all three types commit violations of prison rules, 'toughs' do so at a higher rate than do 'real men' and 'merchants' (Sykes, 1 956).



"to reaffirm his continued allegiance and identification with the inmate value system. The participating inmate can handle this kind of pressure for a time by displaying conspicuous acts of aggression against authorities both within and outside the therapy group" (Ohlin,

1956 : 36).

It appears, however, that this is not an easy solution. More typical is avoidance of therapy in the first place. Using an attitudinal device on a questionnaire to detect sentiments supportive of the code, Tittle and Tittle

(1964) find that those who most strongly

. support the code least frequently appear at group therapy sessions and that when they do participate, their involvement is superficial. Other abbreviated accounts of behavior analyzable as produced through conformity to the code is available, but it only repeats the findings which have been cited (Haynor and Asch, Haynor and Asch,

1939; 1940; Haynor, 1943 ; Schragg, 1954; Cressey and Krasowski, 1 959 ; Cloward, 1960 ; Johnson, 1961 ; Wilmer, 1965).

Summary and Implications

Essentially the same code has been found in a variety of settings and has been utilized by sociologists to account for a variety of deviant behavior: violation of institutional rules, refusal to give information to officers, hostile gestures and talk toward officers, threats against officers, gambling, stealing from the institution, sharing stolen goods, engaging in homosexuality, avoidance of contact with staff, and avoidance of participation in group therapy programs. These behaviors have been traditionally analyzed as produced by compliance to the convict code. It has been found that these behaviors are prescribed by the code, or supported by the code in the sense that other inmates are prohibited from interfering or disapproving of the activity by maxims of the code, or they are encouraged by the code, since one shows his compliance with the code and loyalty to its underlying values by engaging



in the deviant behavior. As shall be shown, this explanatory use of the code parallels its uses by staff and residents in the very settings in which the code is detected.



Traditionally sociology has been concerned with talk only as a source of data for analysis. What is said as such, how it is said, and the interactional and other contexts for what is said is generally disregarded in f avor of exclusively examining

what was meant by

some utterance or collection of utterances as that meaning is rlevant to some sociological theory or frame of reference.1 An answer to a question in an interview, for example, is of interest as a reflection of the interviewee's attitude or as a description of events in his world. OF, the remarks that an ethnographer receives to his questions (or simply overhears) are of interest in the ways that they can be understood as substantive reports


such matters as norms, values, customs, and the like. The meanigs of a societal member's talk, as understood in terms of the social scientist's theory or frame of reference, is often analytically related by him to the meaning of some other remark. For example, an attitude may be related to the meaning of some other remarks which are understood or construed as meaning the individual's social status. In this way talk is both of overwhelming interest to social science and of little concern - except, of course, in the ways that social science methods for obtaining talk may bias the resulting findings. Talk was of monumental importance to the studies of the convict code examined in Chapter Four. Even though many of the studies which were considered were vague as to their methods, it is re1a
1 Even more disregarded are the 'methods' whereby talk is understood and what consequences hearing what is said has for the listener.

1 30


tively clear that the maxims of the code were derived from inmate accounts that were given to the investigator.2 This was the case whether the accounts were essays written for Clemmer, seminars held for McLeery, the long accounts of inmate lives and sentiments given to Shragg, or the single and group interview and questionnaire sessions held by Wheeler. Inasmuch as these data are inmate-produced accounts, like most of the data of sociology, they are visible phenomena in the way they occur as interactional events between an investigator and his subjects. Just what kind of interactional events they are is the topic of Part II. In a manner . akin to Burke's (1936) and Mills' (1 940) urging that motives be considered as language events whereby societal members interpret their colleagues' actions and whereby they announce the meaning of their own actions for others, and akin to Garfinkel and Sacks' (1970 : 346) more general formulation, the convict code could be examined as something like a language event that inmates or residents, staff, and researchers employ to 'interpret' conduct. Such an analysis would seem rather uninteresting and redundant if it were the case that investigators knew nothing of inmates' conduct except what they learned in interview situations, in which case one would be analyzing the 'telling of the code' as the creation of a reality by inmates for investigators. However, the code, in fact, was encountered by me (and, it appears, by other investigators as well) in the very setting that it was being used to 'tell about'. That is, the activity of 'telling the code' was informing the investigator about actions in the same setting in which the . act of 'telling the code' was itself a part and was included in the actions being described. Such properties of accounts have been called 'reflexive' by Garfinkel (1 967) and will be matters of close attention in the following chapters. If 'telling the code' were something that happened only between sociologists and their subjects, then one might wonder why one
2 Whether the investigator was a member of the staff or not or whether or not he attempted to avoid identification with staff, the products appear remarkably the same.



should b e s o concerned for the ways i n which the observable properties or the 'real' properties of a setting were being ac complished for a sociologist. However, as I will show in detail later, the code was being told to the staff of the halfway house as well. 'Telling the code' was an important interactional event between staff and residents. Moreover, staff, like sociologists, employed the code to explain the actions of inmates. This fact suggests that the causal analyses of actions by reference to rules might effectively be examined as interactional events. In examining the convict code as an interactional event, we will explore the ways in which the activity of 'telling the code' in a behavioral environment accomplished (or created and sustained) a particular kind of social reality for those who witnessed the scene. 'Telling the code' in an environment of other behaviors gave witnesses a schema whereby the environment appeared to display sensible, factual, and stable properties. That is, hearing the code and employing it as a 'guide to perception' gave behaviors of residents a specific and stable sense. The code was interactionally employed between 'investigator' and 'subjects' to detect, show, and clarify the repetitive sense of action - the necessary, 'no-choice about-it' (i.e., factual in Durkheim's sense of constraining) character of action and the causally meaningful or motivated character of action. The details of the way in which this 'inter pretive' work was done as a situationally contingent accomplish ment (or, even better, continuous accomplishing) will be treated in Chapters Six and Seven. But first, in Chapter Five, the various ways the code was conversationally employed between residents and researcher, residents and staff, and between members of the staff to analyze, to interpret, to argue and persuade, to justify, and to foretell resident actions, i .e., the folk sociological usage of the convict code, will be examined. Such an examination provides the necessary context for the more detailed consideration of 'telling the code' as an interactional and creative occurrence to follow.


Residents and staff of the halfway house described and analyzed the commitments, beliefs, and actions of residents by formulating resident affairs in terms of the convict code, or maxims of the code, or moral categories 'contained within' the code. That is, they described and analyzed resident affairs by 'telling the code'. In a variety of contexts, they were folk sociologists responding to questions, offering advice, arguing the efficacy or propriety of some action, etc. by 'telling the code' in formulating moral alter natives, role relationships, caste conflict, the rationality of action, etc. By 'telling the code', both staff and residents described and defined an environment of real events for one another and for me as a researcher : 'telling the code' was a folk sociology, the use of which was productive of a social reality.

THE CODE AS TOLD BY RESIDENTS In examining the 'telling of the code' as an interactional or conversational event, I find it useful to report the initial details of these events in a biographical manner and will begin 'at the beginning' of my experience at the halfway house. My first contact with the project came about because I was looking for some kind of research position on a project dealing with deviance. I had heard through colleagues that the Department of Corrections might have something, so I called them. I was invited to their research offices in downtown Los Angeles and


1 33

told that they had a position open. My colleague-to-be, Mr. Don Miller, said that his section of the Research Division had been charged with studying the halfway house in East Los Angeles. They had already made outcome studies and, therefore, knew that a stay at the halfway house did not improve a parolee-addict's chances of abstaining f rom drug use. However, they did not know why this was the case. Miller and some of the members of the administration of the department thought that an exploratory study of the structure of the organization and of the lives of the residents might shed light on why the organization was not 'working'. The job promised considerable f reedom, and it appeared quite appealing to me, so I arranged to take it.

I want to stress that I knew nothing about correctional establish

ments, that I had read none of the literature in this area, and at that point decided with other researchers in the Department of Corrections research office (Don Miller and AI Himmelson) that or me to remain ignorant it would be desirable, at least at first, f in that regard. We f elt that my ignorance was desirable, because equipped with the literature, my observations might be pushed in the direction of the results of previous studies. However, we did have brief discussions concerning the possibility of the existence of some kind of oppositional sub-culture in the halfway house and that that was one of the things I might look for. Miller, who had already spent one day a week at the halfway house for six months or so, took me there and introduced me to the staff and a few of the residents he had come to know. I was given an office in the upstairs of the building in an area where none of the staff had their offices. I had planned to try to avoid identification as a staff member, to observe what I could of the organization by being around it in as many places as I could, and to become friends with residents so as to spend time with them in order to see what it was that they were doing and saying. To assist in doing this, I wore casual clothes, i.e., a sport shirt and cotton slacks, while the staff wore coat and tie, and intended not to locate myself next to staff while in the presence of the residents.

1 34


First Encounters with the Code : A Temporally Assembled Context f (and o ) the Residents' or f ' Telling and Showing the Code' to the Researcher
My first contact with the residents was provided by Miller, who introduced me to a resident with whom he had become friendly. He told the resident, whom I will call Sanchez, that I was going to study what was going on at the halfway house. Sanchez said that he would like to help, so the next time I was at the halfway house, I asked him to come to my office to tell me about the place. M ter he had sketched out the program for me and explained the difficulty in finding jobs for ex-convicts, I asked him how the residents got along with one another; particularly, were there things that they should do and should not do. He said that 'guys' should not snitch (inform on each other) or steal from one another. I asked if there 'were anything else, and he replied that, yes, there was more to

the code than that. When I first heard that, I wondered

if he had had so much contact with researchers that they had taught him to speak about moral expectations as forming a code, although later experience with other informants, who said essen tially the same thing, led me to think that that was not 'the explanation. In any case, I was struck with the extent to which those expectations were verbally formalized. I tried to get my informant to tell me more. For example, were there parts of the code that had to do with the use of drugs in the house. I said that I had heard that there were a lot of drugs at the halfway house. What had seemed up to that point to be a conver sation that was filled with 'good rapport' and was teaching me much, suddenly was destroyed. For a moment he said nothing. Then he told me that I could not ask that - at least not now. He said that for me to do research in the halfway house would require my making it clear that I was on the side of the residents. He suggested that I should publicly argue with the staff about their treatment of the residents, that I should not spend time with the staff, and that I should take guys out for beer and the like. I later came to see that he was telling me to behave like a good resident



1 35

by showing my loyalty to the residents. He suggested that if I followed his instructions, then perhaps after several weeks I might find out something. Even then, however, he was unsure about the possibility of learning very much from the residents. After giving me this piece of advice, he then said he had to go set up the tables for dinner, and the conversation which had lasted for nearly an hour ended. I realized later that the very matters being talked about in the conversation with Sanchez made the course of that conversation understandable as a rule-governed dialogue. I saw why the conversation had halted - because for him to tell me about drug use would have amounted to or come close to snitching. Following Sanchez's advice, in part, I then began my attempts at observing life at the halfway house. I went to the meetings the residents went to, sitting as they sat, and saying nothing. I went to lunch and dinner with them. I stayed with them when they washed the dishes and did other work around the house, sat on the front porch with them, and talked with them in the front room. When it seemed appropriate, I asked them to join me for a beer outside the house, though this was not a common occurrence. An ex resident had been hired under a war-an-poverty program to work as a staff aide at halfway house. He moved into the office ad jacent to mine and we began a course of conversation. Though he was marginally a staff member, he maintained his friendships with the residents. Whenever I could not find others to talk to, I spent time with him, which was fine with him, because there was little for him to do in the program. Except for my conversations with the staff aide, my contact with the residents was erratic at best. The very routines of the halfway house made contact difficult. The residents were rarely there when they did not have to be. This meant that during the day, only those that were at the house to work off board and room were typically there. The others would come in for dinner, sometimes for lunch, and for meetings, and then leave until curfew. I could never count on seeing a particular resident, since anyone with whom I had already talked would most likely not be around again except at meetings and meals.



Nevertheless, some halting and some extensive conversations were held, especially with residents who were working around the house, and sometimes with others immediately before dinner and after meetings. When these conversations did occur, I found the residents very ready to tell me something of their history, their complaints about parole, the halfway house, the police, the difficulty in finding good jobs, and what it was like in prison, but exceedingly little about life in halfway house aside from relations with staff, and practically nothing at all about relations between residents and what the particular resident was doing besides working or looking for work. In my attempts to learn about relations between residents and about the personal lives of residents, I frequently encountered what I experienced as a kind of 'evasion' even from residents with whom I had established some kind of relationship by spending several hours with them over a series of encounters. An episode recorded in my field notes illustrates the kind of 'evasion' I ex perienced.

I had known 'Carlos' for three weeks. We had seen

each other many times and had had three or four rather lengthy conversations. We had talked about such matters as his job and how he got it, parole agents, the police, coming events in the halfway house program, and my general research interests. It appeared that he trusted me to some extent. One afternoon shortly after he had returned to halfway house from his job, Carlos was sitting in the dining room having a cup of coffee. I got a cup and joined him. I wanted to find out about the expectations residents had for one another and how the breach of those expectations was responded to. On point in the conver sation permitted me to ask the following question without dis rupting the relevancies and flow of the conversation: "Carlos, have you ever seen guys get angry at one another?" He replied, "No, we are just one big happy family here." I asked, "Never?" He said, "Well, sometimes guys get angry about little things. Like I loan ed my jacket to a guy and he got busted, so I lost my jacket. But what are you going to do about it. We don't get angry enough to fight or anything. I gotta go see my agent now." And he walked off.


1 37

I was left with the sense that he could have answered my questions quite differently, but avoided doing so because of what answering that question would mean for a resident in dealing with any outsider, i.e., any non-resident. I experienced this occasion (and many others) as presenting me with massive structures that were resistive of my efforts to alter or overcome them. The more or less patterned behavior of residents, as responses to me and to staff, was suggestive of the objective structures or the 'social facts' of Durkheim's analysis. In the weeks that followed, residents taught me that all of Durkheim's properties of social facts were characteristic of their behavior. Residents were more willing to talk about moral relationships between 'hypes ' (heroin users) in abstract and historically reconstructed terms. For example, several residents, in recounting their early life, told me that they had been brought up to believe that snitching was wrong. In learning about narcotics, they knew that there was a risk that they might get caught, and that anyone who was not prepared to go to prison if he got caught should ' not use drugs in the first place. Clearly, such a person must not snitch on others in order to avoid punishment. Talk of this sort was easy to obtain from residents and was accompanied by the announcement that what was being talked about was the code itself. In various ways residents offered me moral characterizations which made references to the code. Some of these references were included in their complaints about the program. On a number of occasions, residents complained to me about the group therapy they experienced at the narcotics treatment center and under the old halfway house program. They said that such programs were based on 'snitching, snivelling, and copping out'. They explained that to engage fully in group therapy meant that you had to talk about what other guys were doing and to talk about your own private life, which was certain to include deviant episodes. They told me that trying to get another man to talk about his life was just like snitching, because you were getting him to cop out on himself. They spoke of guys who like to 'score points' with staff, and said that that was the principal motivation for guys'



talking about themselves. In their terms, a 'good grouper' was likely to be a 'kiss-ass'. Through bits and pieces of moral characterization like those above, the code could be assembled from references in my notes. But there were three other kinds of observations that were essential to its formulation and that led me to a strong belief in the actuality of the code. I have already alluded to the difficulty I had in getting the residents to talk with me. I began to see that the difficulty I was experiencing was produced by the same phenomenon that I was trying to investigate. I came to see that my experience of not being able to join conversations over the dinner table, although conversations were going on all around me, was being produced by the code that I was trying to explicate. When I was having a conversation with a resident and other residents passed by and said something in Spanish to him, followed by the conversation coming to a quick halt, I came to understand that this too was a sanctioning of the code.

The Code as Residents' Advice to the Researcher

In the third to fourth week of the study, my understanding of the code as it applied to me (that it applied to me and how it applied to me) was strengthened by some residents who explicitly pointed out the relevance of the code in and for their dealings with me.

A point I wish to emphasize is that resident recitations of the code,

or some element of it, were done in such a way that the residents were not simply describing a set of rules to me, but were also simultaneously sanctioning my conduct by such a recitation. I experienced their 'telling the code' as an attempt to constrain my conduct by telling me what I could and could not appropriately do. In particular, they were often engaged in persuading me that some questions I might ask and some questions I did ask were 'out of order' and that there were some areas of resident 'under life' that I should not attempt to explore. To show this in more detail, some concrete examples will be cited.


1 39

In my fifth or sixth week at the house, I encountered a younger resident, whom I will call Arnaldo, in the hall, who asked me if

1 knew of any jobs that were available. We were walking down

the hall toward his dormitory, and both of us walked into it, when 1 said that I didn't know of any. Then he began to tell me of the pressure staff was putting on him because he was not yet employed. We talked about the ways staff was suspicious of him because he had not yet found work and what his social life was like without any money. The house manager came past and asked us to help unload a truck of toys for the annual Christmas party. While we unloaded the truck, Arnaldo told me about 'kiss asses ' who volunteered to do favors for staff, which, he explained, un loading the truck was not, since he was more or less ordered to do it. Mter we finished the unloading, I asked him if he would like a beer, and he said, "Sure, if you're buying." We continued our talk about 'regulars', 'snitching', and 'kiss asses', and about getting stopped by the police because one lives at halfway house, while we walked to a nearby tavern which reputedly catered to addicts. Though our conversation had been long and friendly, when I started to ask him about the clientele of the bar and the fact that I had heard that there were lots of guys 'holding' (possessing drugs) there, Arnaldo said, "I don't know, but you'd be the last one I'd tell if I did." I was taken aback by this remark, for our talk during the past two hours had led me to think that I could ask such a question. I did not know what to say and did not press the matter f urther, as I might have done by asking him why I would be the last one he would tell. 'The reason' seemed immediately obvious, since we had been talking about the code - for him to have told me would have bordered on snitching. He changed the topic by asking me if I had read a lot of books about addicts, and what I thought about what they had to say. At that point another resident, whom I will call Miguel, popped his head in the door for a moment and then left. We had resumed talking, when Miguel returned and came in. I said hello to him, at which point Arnaldo said that he had to get back to the house to set up for dinner, leaving me with Miguel, who sat down at the bar next to me.



I said that I had seen him just a moment ago, to which he replied that he had seen me, decided that he did not want to be 'grouped' by me, and started to leave, but had seen the 'fuzz' (police) patrolling the block outside and decided to come back, even if that meant talking to me. I had talked to Miguel several times in the house prior to this. I said, "What do you mean, be 'grouped' by me?" He said that when he was in the house talking to me that other guys would come past and say to him in Spanish, "Hey man, cut loose of that guy or he'll group you", which meant "talk to you about what is your business and none of his". At about this point, a girl he knew came up and started talking to him, and though he introduced me to her, when he turned to talk to her,
I was not part of their conversation. A resident who was a parolee

at-large (one who breaks parole by deliberately avoiding all contact with his agent) walked in, spotted me, and left. I said to my 'informant ' Miguel that I was sorry that I could not convince residents that I would not let the staff know I had seen them, to which he replied, "Do you think that they would believe you ?", as if to say that, of course, they would not. I said that I supposed they could not afford to. I asked him if he could tell me more about that, but we had to leave if we were to eat dinner at the halfway house. I suggested that we might go out for a beer that evening, and he said "Fine ; we can talk more about your work then." Miguel was not ready to leave until about an hour after dinner, because he did the dishes to earn a day's room and board. In the meantime, I encountered the first informant of the day, Arnaldo, who asked me if I had a girl friend. Upon hearing that I did, he asked if she had a friend or a sister and suggested that we go out together. I found it somewhat strange, although reassuring, that I was receiving friendliness from the same resident who had 'put me down' by saying, 'you'd be the last one I'd tell '. I told him I was tied up that evening, but perhaps we could do it sometime later. The arrangement never materialized, because he was arrested for drug use in a day or so. In any case, my second informant was ready to leave. I asked him where he would like to go, and he said




that he would prefer somewhere outside the neighborhood, because my presence in a local bar would make other guys uncomfortable, and he did not want to be seen with me there. So we 'headed' for a bar near the place where he worked. The ride in my car to the bar provided a stream of conversational topics - that he got a ride to work every day from another employee of the place where he worked ; that he had that guy pick him up a block away from the halfway house so that his friend would not see him coming out of the halfway house ; what kind of a bar we were going to ; its bikini clad waitresses ; and, when we arrived, the fact that aside from the waitresses, there were no women in the bar. Then he turned his attention to what I was doing in the halfway house. He said that I was 'fucking up ' and 'ranking' my job by talking to guys about themselves and the house. He said it was foolish to try to talk to convicts about personal matters like that, unless I knew them very well, and that that would not happen because guys were not there long enough. When I asked him what I could do, if that were the case, his response indicated that it was not 'really' a problem of 'establishing rapport\ as he had previously seemed to indicate. Instead, he said that my 'problem' was the kind of event it was for residents to be talking to me in the setting of the halfway house as that conversation would be construed by other residents. That is, it was an issue of residents' being seen by other residents as violating maxims of the code or appearing to be about to violate maxims of the code, especially prohibitions against snitching, copping out, and messing with other residents' interests, and prescriptions calling for a show of loyalty among residents and a show of distrust for staff. He said that guys would rather not lie to me if they could help it, so they would try to steer clear of me if they could. He said that what I had been told was largely a lot of 'bullshit'. When I asked what was going on that kept guys from talking to me, he replied that they would tell each other not to talk to me, but more than that, every one of them had the following fear, though he, Miguel, talked to me in spite of it : every ex-con knows that he is very likely to go back to prison sometime, and that is especially so for



addicts. On the return trip, the ex-con might meet others he had seen and known at the halfway house. That other guy might be there on a fifteen-year sentence and count himself as dead, that is, he would not care what happened o him. If the 'dead man' recalled that someone had spoken to me at the halfway house, he could take that as an instance of someone's gossiping to me about the 'dead man's' business and, in tum, attack and perhaps kill the supposed gossip. Therefore, it was dangerous to talk to a researcher. My attempts to get people to talk to me were 'stupid' and were endangering persons who were helpful to me. In the language of sociology, Miguel was persuading me that the evasion, the distance, and the apparent mistrust that I ex perienced in resident behavior were social facts in Durkheiin's sense. They were patterns of action which for the residents had the property of exferiority - they were not 'chosen' by each resident, but instead were experienced as 'the way we do things '. The patterns had the property of constraint, in that any resident who tried to behave otherwise was resisted and corrected by others. Miguel was telling me that residents treated me (and staff) in the fashion that they did because they were obliged to do so. Miguel's explanation of his own behavior and the behavior of other residents might also be conceived of as a folk version of Weber's adequate causal analysis, for he showed me the ways that the more or less uniform patterns of behavior resulted from a typical and correct course of reasoning which was founded on the use of the convict code in defining one's circumstances

.<\fter Miguel and I visited another bar, he asked to be taken back

to the neighborhood of the halfway house. He told me to drop him off several blocks from the house and the bars that were near it, explaining that in this way he would not be seen with me by the residents and their friends. I had . other experiences like this one, though they were not spelled out for me in as much detail. They all amounted to residents' telling me that they were not going to talk to me, or be friends with me, or tell me 'the truth', because it was prohibited for them to do so.


1 43

The Code


Residents' Descriptions and Explanations

A variety of my encounters with residents produced depictions of staff-resident relations phrased in terms of the code. Some of these came about by my asking residents how they should behave -toward the staff and for a clarification of the terms 'snitch', 'kiss ass', and 'regular'. Important in my attempts to formulate the code as a normative order that was actually enforced were those oc casions in which residents employed the code to explain their behavior and the behavior of their f ellows when I was not asking them about rules in general or the code in particular. As in the case me. I passed the war-on-poverty aide 's office one afternoon. He had been working in the house for several weeks and was evidently quite unhappy. I asked him what the trouble was. He said that he once had had hopes that the halfway house could do something for the residents, but now he was sure that it could not, because the staff had been rendered ineffective. I asked him to explain how that was the case. He said that it was because the guys had all had long experience with 'the system' (meaning the correctional apparatus) and saw their relationship to it in terms of the code. He indicated that this experience had taught them to see all staff as part of 'the system', which meant that each and every staff member was 'the enemy '. Personal relationships with individual staff members were not only discouraged, but were not even conceived of as possible in the first place. When I asked him about particular parole agents who appeared to have established trust with their men, he said that that appearance was, in f act, an exchange. Residents did tell some agents about some parts of their lives, but that was in return for particularly good treatment from the agent, e.g., the agent 's not arresting the man when the regulations of parole said he should. The aide was dismayed over the apparent hopelessness of altering patterned ways of acting, thinking, and f eeling which had the properties of exteriority and constraint. He understood below, some of these occasions were not initiated by



them - they followed from a typical course of reasoning - but that was no special help in trying to alter them. On a number of other occasions, the code was employed to explain concrete episodes of behavior. An example is provided by an incident which occurred when several parole agents wanted to go out for a beer after the committee meetings. The agents invited the aide and me to come along. They suggested several places that we might go, but the aide said, "No, I don't want to go there", until they started listing bars outside the immediate neighborhood. The next day I asked him why he was so hesitant about going to neighborhood bars. He told me that it was not that he didn't want to go to those bars, but that he did not want to go to them with the agents. He did not think they should go to those bars, because it would make the customers uncomfortable, and he did not want to be seen in that situation with them, because people (residents and other hypes) would think he was "sucking up to the fuzz" and could not be trusted. By explaining why he had acted in the fashion that he did, he also identified and defined what he had been doing - namely, showing his loyalty to the residents. Although he did not concretely mention the code, the language and the relevancies in his explanation were understood by me as 'drawn from' it. In another case, a resident more con cretely used the code to describe a 'hassle' between a staff member and himself. The incident began on a Monday morning when the program director had just come back to the house after the weekend. I saw him in the front office and asked him about what had happened over the weekend. He said he did not know, but that apparently two residents, 'Pablito' and 'Jose', had been suspected of something, because there were two urine samples with their names on them in the outgoing mail. I went with him to the office of the weekend duty officer, where he asked what it was all about. The duty officer said that he had seen Pablito and Jose in the dorms, very close together and "acting suspicious". When he approached them, Jose passed something to Pablito. He asked them what it was, but they said that they had nothing and held out their hands for



him to see. He thought it was probably a bottle of bennys (benza drine). He immediately asked them both to give a urine sample and show their arms for inspection. He then restricted both of them to the house for not cooperating with him in the questioning. Jose had run from the house a few hours later. When I saw Pablito that afternoon, I said that I heard that he had lost his weekend pass. He replied that he felt it was very unjust, but that he did not let it 'bug' him. "I don't let them get at me - bug me. They give you a bunch of shit. It's like they are trying to force you out of here. But when they talk to me, I just don't let it get to me. If they ask me to piss in a bottle, I'll do that. If they ask me to piss in their pocket, I 'll do that. As long as I don't go to jail, 1 don't care. I'm clean, so I don't have nothing to worry about. The only one who can tell me what to do is [my agent]; not that fucking [other agent who was on duty], and [my agent] doesn't bug me." I asked him what he thought the duty agent was up to in restricting him to the house. He said, "The only thing that would make [the duty agent] happy would have been if I had copped out. He should know that we aren't going to cop out to nothing, whether we have done it or not. We all come f rom the joint, and those guys have been trying for years to get us to cop out to stuff and we won't, so why does he [duty agent] think he could get us to do it ?" In these ways, as well as in the ways of the more telegraphic and eliptical 'methods' described in the next chapters, residents conveyed the code as the explanation of their behavior. It was . through ordinary interactions in the setting in which the 'business' of the setting was being accomplished that the code was empirically manifested as a part or feature of the setting as well as being about it. In their occasioned talk, residents provided descriptions and explanations of their conduct. They identified (largely by naming) their actions as instances of patterned, more or less uniform conduct that would be done by any resident. They pointed to the ways that these patterns of action were produced by the constraint of normative requirement.



The Code as an Active Consequential Ob ject in the Researcher's Environment

At this point, we could say that the residents (as societal members) recognized the formal and social-fact properties of their own conduct. In the pages that follow, we shall see that somehow through the uses of persuasive talk, the f act that members (in cluding professional sociologists) recognized these properties is a practical accomplishment of members in the setting. Somehow through the vehicle of ordinary conversation, residents made it happen that their behavior would be seen as regular, independent of their particular doing, and done as a matter of normative requirement. We will see that through its presence in ordinary conversations in the scene, 'telling the code' structured the appearance of actions in the setting. Before considering the details of this accomplishment (see Chapters Six and Seven), I want to establish the fact that residents did convincingly show staff and researcher the formal and social-fact properties of resident action in such a way that staff and researcher talked about resident conduct in terms of these properties and in other ways treated resident behaviors as the relatively unalterable structures that residents persuasively argued them to be. My data gathering efforts with the residents altered the character of my own circumstances as I knew them. As I obtained new materials about the residents' social world, my own field of action was progressively developed. By 'telling the code', residents gave me a schema for seeing the sensible, factual, and stable properties of that part of my social world which intersected theirs. Residents ' 'telling the code' was consequential for the ways in which I saw my research circumstances. In this consequentiality, 'telling the code' was not merely about the halfway house and events in it but was, as well, an active element of that same setting.

It would be an understatement to say that I was dismayed by

being 'put in my place' by references to the code. For a week or so, I thought that I could learn nothing more about the lives of residents. It seemed to me that I had several alternatives. I could



simply study the work of staff using the observational techniques I had started with, or I might study staff in that way and study residents using interview and questionnaire techniques, or I could study staff and residents through observation, but restrict my work with residents to observations that did not require using informants. I felt bound by my promises to the research division and came to see that my only means of providing them with some kinds of materials that would 'explicate' the lives of the residents was to do a set of interviews with residents that relied on standardized notions of rapport as their warrant for being 'objective reports'. More over, I had the hope that such a procedure would be less painful than the rather direct rejection I had been experiencing from the residents. I also decided to continue informal observations of resident activities whenever I could. As it turned out, the obser vations were sufficient for my interests and, with the abandonment of the halfway house, the contents of the interviews were not of pressing interest to the research division, so the interviews were only partially codified and analyzed. As that work proceeded, the active, 'real', consequential character of the code for me as a practicing researcher was further illuminated. Arrangements for getting the interviews done and the formulation of the interview items relied on the knowledge of the code that I had already obtained (and by this time from staff as well as from residents). The interviews were designed to explicitly avoid any questions which asked (much less required) the interviewees to tell anything about the lives of specific (named) other residents. Questions that would ask for 'copping out' to offenses in the recent past were also avoided. However, even seemingly innocuous questions like, "Are you employed ?" and, if so, "Where ?" were troublesome. They sometimes were answered with 'stories' about where the resident was employed which later appeared to be false. It appeared that these false stories were told so that what a resident said in the interview would be compatible with what he had told the staff about where he was employed. Thus, to be truthful in the interview would have amounted to the resident's 'copping out' on himself.



The initial interviews were 'voluntary' in that upon learning from the staff that a new resident had moved to the halfway house, I went around the house looking for him and, on finding him, told him who I was and asked him to participate in an interview. In less than a week of trying to do it that way, I encountered many responses which were variants of, "Is it required?" When I said, "No", I obtained a further response such as, "Well, then I don't think I want to do it." Even though I was eventually able to persuade almost all new residents to come to be interviewed, the situation was awkward and time-consuming. I quickly learned that those places in the halfway house where residents were easiest to find provided me with the most difficult settings for making arrangements to talk to them. I had easy access to them while they were on work projects. But these same settings were typically populated by several other new residents. My asking a man to come to be interviewed in that context often became a topic of conversation and joking for the residents who heard the invitation. I was frequently given equivocal replies, e.g., "I'll do it in a couple of hours" or "tomorrow". I quickly found that most of my time was being taken up by trying to persuade them to be interviewed. Following staff's advice about the residents' behavior vis-a-vis the code, I had staff make the interview part of the orientation routine. Thereby, the house manager scheduled appointments for me with each new man within his first two days of residence. Staff's advice (which will be explored later) was that, "These guys simply can't volunteer for anything, but if you direct them to do it, they will happily do so." The advice worked, and thereby added credence to the code for me as a device for dealing with my practical circumstances. Nearly everyone showed up for their interviews. When they got there, they were told that actual participation was not required, although 'showing up' was. No one refused to be interviewed at that point. Two of sixty-four cases said they preferred that the interview not be recorded. In several ways, then, I utilized the code as I had learned it and was continuing to learn it to formulate good strategies for getting



through the research in such a way that I could finally submit a report to the Department of Corrections Research Division.


As I continued my observational work, I increasingly watched staff-resident encounters, the round of staff's activities, and the character of staff's talk. These observations showed me that staff had been taught the code by residents and each other and employed it in ways that both paralleled its uses by sociologists and by residents and inmates. Staff 'told the code' in describing, inter preting, explaining, and finding the patterned character of resident conduct. They also used the code in giving advice to each other, in devising strategies, and in justif ying their own actions and decisions. For staff, 'telling the code' identified the meaning of resident behavior, portrayed situations from the point of view of residents, and defined staff's own situation and the meaning of staff's actions.

Sta Awareness o the Code ff f

Some of my conversations with staff were tape recorded. Excerpts from three of these conversationsl show some of the ways that staff 'knew' and 'told' the code.
W: Su ppose a guy discovered that his jeweled watch had been stolen from him here in the house ; what do you think he should do about it ?

P A: I think he should do a little investigating on his own and find out who took it. Okay, and then after he did that, he should confront the guy with it and tell him to give back his watch, or otherwise he will take care of the justice himself. I do not think he should tell staff.

Okay, why?

1 I encountered innumerable instances of staff's 'telling the code'. For a more lengthy presentation of tape-recorded protocols of staff's 'telling the code' and an analysis of the varieties of the modes of 'telling the code', see Wieder (1969: 235-250).

1 50



PA : Okay, well, if he tells staff about it, he's going to be branded as

a fink. The majority of them [the residents] would think that way. Any
time you tell staff anything like that, you're a fink, you know. W : What consequences do you see for him ? PA : Oh, you know, he's liable to get killed. Yeah, that's a sixty-forty possibility. There's a sixty-forty possibility he'd be a - his status in the eyes of the rest of the people - it would diminish because he did some thing you're not supposed to do, and staff would have feelings about it too. They wouldn 't know whether they should take his side or say, "What the hell is the matter with you - you violated the rules."

The parole agent's response is almost identical to resident advice about the same matter. Staff elaborated the meaning of the situation from the standpoint of the residents by invoking the code as relevant to the possible alternatives a victim of theft would face. The moral and consequential meanings of a situation of action what to do about a stolen watch - are generated by imagining the possible actions that a resident could take and then assessing those actions in terms of their likely meanings when defined by reference to the code. In another case, a staff member employed these same ideals to characterize the unpleasant patterns of resident behavior and the kind of relationship those patterns and their underlying motives required staff to have with residents. I had asked the agent to clarify the staff terminology of 'hostility to authority' by telling me about the kinds of things a particular resident he would identify as 'hostile to authority' would do. The agent ended his recitation by attributing the underlying motivations of the unpleasant actions to the principles by which this man lived, specifically the code. The agent proposed that he had to adapt to those principles if he were to have tolerable dealings with the man.
W : Tell me some of the things he does in particular. PA : Well, like for example, in the group situation where you have a lot of freedom, he will, you know, be very rejecting or he'll ridicule you, or he'll be uncooperative, or he'll ridicule someone else in the group




who i s cooperative - for being cooperative, just this sort o f thing . . . He'll be late for group, you know, as a rule, and then walk into group and state that he was on the phone - which he knows is kind of not a legitimate reason for being late for group, and he's saying to you, "Well, what are you going to do to me as a result of it ?" And then if you don't do anything, well then it's a couple of strokes for him, you see. And, you know, you usually don't do anything ; it is a couple of strokes for him. Okay, and then, of course, he is never going to side with staff on any issue, whether it's having buttered popcorn or having plain popcorn, you know, which they could really give a shit about less. If staff says buttered popcorn, he says plain popcorn, you know, this kind of thing. Okay, and then he'll play one staff member against another staff member. [Agent then cites examples.] Okay, and so you know he'll be uncooperative within limits. Just to demonstrate that he really is reluctant, he will drag his feet, he'll make those funny remarks that he makes, and the only kind of relationship that you can establish with him, if you're the type of person that can tolerate any of that kind of thing - I mean if you are the type of person that can tolerate that sort . . . if you're not, you'll go out to get him, and when you do that he'll run, 'cause you could make things pretty unbearable for him. W: Yeah.
PA: Okay. If you can tolerate it, then he'll establish a relationship with you whose level of interaction is characterized by kidding, high level kidding, and that's all. You know, in other words, [if I say,] "What's happening today ?" [he will say,] "Oh, nothing much. God, I feel terrible." [I will say,] "No wonder you feel terrible, you're

working." [Then he will say,] "It's a lousy job." And I'll say, "You'll get used to it. You haven 't worked a day in your life. It's going to take a long time to get used to it." You know, and like that, but nothing deeper than that. W : Does having a guy that is hostile like that make for difficulties for you ?
PA : [He replied that as long as he could stand the backbiting and

could make it clear that there were some things like nalline testing and filing the monthly report that he must do, that such a man was not really difficult to deal with.] And then, of course, you are always going to run into the situation where he is going to need you, because he is invariably going to get into trouble sometimes, and you are his mouthpiece, and you're the guy that's got the say-so about what's

1 52


going to happen to him . . . Okay, so then if you resign yourself to the fact that you are going to establish your relationship on


level and that's the extent of it, then when you get involved in any situation where he does need you, you see, then he won't change his mode, and you won't expect him to change his mode. He will say,' "I'm in a bind", and then I'll say, "You're in a bind." Then I'll say, "These are the things you will have to do. Do you want to buy it?", and he'll say, "Yes, I'll buy those things, and I'll try to uphold them." And then I'll say, "Remember last time ?" , and then he'll just laugh and say, "Listen, let's not go into that" , and then I'll explain to him how I think it will go and when he'll probably get out of jail. I won't needle him in that situation, because if I do, he'll have to say. "Fuck you", if he wants to hold - keep my respect, you know, which is kind of a strange thing, but that 's true. W : Lose respect from his point of view ? PA : No, from my point of view. I couldn't respect him any longer if I said to him, "Okay, you asshole, you remember all that shit you used to pull and all that little backbiting remarks you used to make and how uncooperative you were and this and this and this, and now you're snivelling because you're in a bind and you want me to help you out, but before I help you, you're going to have to eat shit. Do you want to eat shit or don't you?" You don't ask him, but you are feeding it to him and just see how he takes it. Okay, if he takes it, then he has lost esteem in my eyes, you see. You know, he has already told me he wants to keep our relationship a certain way. He is a certain kind of guy - take me or leave me. W: A tough guy ? PA : Let's say a man who says that 'these are my principles and this is how I live, and you're not going to change the way I live'. Okay, if he backs down and starts doing that sort of thing, then I can't very well respect him any more. It's the same kind of thing if a guy informs. Now why should I not respect an informer ? He's helping me do my job, in a sense, but yet I don't respect an informer. He violated the codes of his group . . . I feel, okay, you want our relationship to be like this, then I'll say okay, I'll accept this relationship on this basis, you know, and okay, this means that I can play you so much, you know, because you're playing me so much, you know, but if I catch you - not in the literal sense - well, okay, those are the rules of the game and you lost. You have to abide by the rules of the game by not sniv elling and not changing or doing anything kind of peculiar out of your mode of ordinary response.


1 53

Here the agent portrays many details of a man's behavior which stem from the same motivational source - the set of principles by which he lives or 'the code of his group'. In leading his life in terms of these principles, the resident consistently demonstrates his opposition to the order proposed by staff. His disagreements with staff, his rejection of staff, his ridicule of other residents for being cooperative with staff, his uncooperativeness with staff, his lateness and other rule violations, and his imperviousness to staff efforts to establish a more intimate relationship with him are all analyzed as having a common meaning. The behaviors are thereby seen and depicted as patterned. Clearly, the pattern could accomodate more particulars. Anything the man does which is not to the liking of staff can be accomodated along with the others. The common pattern seen through these behavioral events is that they are all shows of his resistance to staff and his reluctance to follow staff directives which stem from his compliance to the code. The code was occasionally employed as an explanation without topically referring to it. In the excerpt that follows, two maxiIns of the code ('Do not snitch' and 'Do not mess with other residents' interests ') were used to characterize relationships between residents and to explain why they could do nothing about each others' deviance as a partial explanation for the high rate of drug use at halfway house.
PA : You know, they're in a very peculiar position ; I don't know if it's a position that can be justified, but I'd probably justify it. They really can't take responsibility for the fact that this house is clean or dirty, because there is always going to be that sometime when they are going to get into trouble again and have to face these people [other residents of the house] in prison. I know enough about parole that it's a very precarious thing, depends on the whim of the parole agent, the supervisor, the tempo of the times. So, therefore, that could conceivably happen [going back to prison]. So they can't take responsibility for keeping this place clean. W: It sounds like they told you that's why they can't do anything about other guys' using.

1 54


PA : Yeah, that's what they told me, you know, and I'm saying I bought
it, but I 'm not very comfortable with it.
W: So, therefore, they couldn't snitch, for instance, or do anything about trying to stop another guy from using ?
PA : Therefore, they couldn't snitch or the rest, right.

Here a maxim of the code, 'Do not mess with other residents' [deviant] interests ', is employed, although not labeled as a rule. The staff member also indicates that the rule is enforced. Through this maxim and the maxim, 'Do not snitch', the staff member portrays the residents' circumstances from their point of view. From their point of view, they are prohibited from stopping each others' drug use. From their point of view, they are endangered by doing so, particularly if they are returned to prison where violence is employed more frequently than it is at the halfway house. Through this portrayal, a state of affairs (e.g., the house is always dirty) is thereby explained as an outcome of residents ' defining their situation (and having it defind for them) in terms of the code.

Some Features o Sta f ff's Use o the Code f

The dialogues between staff and researcher show that staff not only knew the code, but knew how to use it as well. It was used as a wide-reaching scheme of interpretation which 'structured' their environment. Like residents and sociologists, staff 'told the code' to identify or name individual acts and patterns of repetitive action and to collect diverse actions under the rubric of a single motive and, in turn, to name them as the same kind of act. They rendered resident action sensible or rational by noting the ways in which resident action was rule governed and directed toward achieving goals that were specified by the code. In this way staff offered a folk version of Weber's adequate causal analysis by showing that the typical patterned actions of residents followed from a 'correct' course of reasoning. Staff portrayed the reasonable



character of resident action b y using the code and its elements to define the residents ' situation. By 'telling the code' as the residents' definition of their situation, staff showed that patterns of resident action had Durkheim's social-fact properties of exteriority and constraint. Residents' actions were reasonable in the sense that they had no choice but to behave in the fashion that they did. In 'telling the code', staff implicitly and explicitly used a wide range of social scientific conceptions, e.g., rule-governed action, goal-directed action, the distinction between the intended and unintended outcomes of action, the distinction between nor matively required and normatively optional means of achieving a morally valued end, roles, role-bound behaviors, and definition of the situation. The use of these ethno-social scientific conceptions in 'telling the code' structured staff's environment. It did this by identifying the meaning of a resident's act by placing it in the context of a pattern. An equivocal act then becomes 'clear' in the way that it obtains its sense as typical, repetitive, and more or less uniform, i.e., its sense as an


of the kind of action

with which staff was already familiar. Staff's environment was also structured by the flexibility of 'telling the code', which could render nearly any equivocal act sensible in such a way that it was experienced as something familiar, even though the act might not be 'expected' or 'predicted' in any precise meaning of those terms. For example, when the parole agent portrayed a diverse collection of actions - a resident's ridiculing the agent and other group members in a comittee meeting, being late to the meeting, giving inadequate excuses, never siding with staff on any issue, and playing one staff member off against another - as instances of a familiar pattern of behavior (demonstrating one's opposition to staff as a display of one's loyalty), he made them parts of an already known pattern, even though the specific behaviors might not have been predicted. 'Telling the code' also structured staff's environment by


a given act to its possible goal or to

some specific consequence of the act among its many consequences. For example, one staff member identified a case of a resident's

1 56


(possibly accidental) burning his own mattress as an attack on staff. This consequence was only one among many consequences, e.g., it created much smoke that would bother his dorm mates, and it could have served as a 'cover' for some illegitimate activity. By seeing the potential code-relevance of the act as an attack on staff, the staff member identified 'the' specific meaning of the act. Acts were also rendered sensible by connecting them to the activ ities of others (especially staff) in terms of role-bound reciprocities. 'Telling the code' rendered residents' behavior

rational for


by placing the acts in question in the context of a loose collection of maxims which compelled their occurrence and by portraying the consequences for those residents who did not comply with these maxims. By describing resident conduct in terms of the normative order which generated it, staff depicted residents as reasonable, acting like Anyman would act under the circumstances. Staff's 'telling the code' also rendered important features of staff's environment



non-situation specific

in character. It rendered parts of staff's environment trans situational by depicting them as recurrent and produced by a constantly operative set of motives (provided by the code) which were acted upon in every staff-resident encounter. Non-situation specificity was an accompaniment of trans-situationality, for in staff's hands, 'telling the code' drew attention away from the specific features of the situation of an act (e.g., that it was


resident acting toward a specific staff member who had treated him in a particular way), while giving it a trans-situational explanation. By explaining the varieties of unpleasant gestures that residents directed toward them in terms of 'the (trans situational) principles by which these men live', staff 'avoided' the possible interpretation of those unpleasant actions in such situation-specific terms as 'getting back at a staff member for the way he treated the resident the day before' or 'responding to an obvious attack on the resident's integrity'. As a useful and flexible explanation, 'telling the code' was an attractive, plausible story about the varieties of trouble staff encountered. 'Telling the code' was useful to staff by converting


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problematic acts of residents into instances of a familiar pattern, into acts which were connected to plausible ends and other activities, into acts which were rational or reasonable, and into acts whose occurrence was not dependent on the specifics of any given staff-resident encounter or relationship. In this fashion, 'telling the code' gave staff a describable environment which was sufficiently structured such that they could rationally adapt to it, in the sense of generating plausible strategies for dealing with residents and plausible justifications for their own actions. For example, staff's description of residents as avoiding cooperating with staff in order to comply with the code requirement that they show their loyalty to one another justified staff's ordering residents to do things that would otherwise be 'voluntary' in the quasi democratic environment of halfway house. 'Telling the code ' provided staff with a useful way of talking about residents and themselves which portrayed both teams as more or less reasonable and more or less heIRless to change the character of the relation ship between the team&, because of the social-fact character (in Durkheim's sense) of the regularities made available by 'telling the code' which were none of anybody's specific doing or respon sibility.

The Uses o the Code in Sta -Sta Interactions f ff ff

'Telling the code' among staff occurred with greatest regularity when residents were doing something troublesome or unusual. On the occasion that a staff member had to tell of the trouble, explain it, or propose some remedy for it, the code was frequently invoked to account for the source of the trouble. The most common trouble staff was called on to explain was the lack of progress in committees and groups. Once a week, a staff meeting was held in which the staff members who led committees reported on what their committee had done. When a staff member reported that his committee had not accomplished much, he explained that the residents could not and would not participate in any active way and that there was nothing that staff could do to alter that fact.

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Therefore, whatever the committee could accomplish had to be done by staff, and staff did not have enough time. Frequently other staff members would join in with sympathetic remarks (such as, "They regard group as a crock of shit", "They think it's square to participate in committees", "They say going to a pool tour nament at halfway house is for kids"), showing that they understood that the men would not participate and that they were deliberately motivated not to participate. When those in charge attempted to reject these accounts, they did so not by arguing against the claim that residents refused to cooperate, but by arguing against the claim that staff did not have enough time to do what residents would not do. In many cases, a staff member's explanation for non-productivity which was based on resident refusal to participate was accepted and obtained the acknowledgment of others that the staff member was properly doing his job, even though his committee had not accomplished anything. While 'telling the code' was available as an excuse for relieving staff of responsibility for the productiyity of a committee or group, the code was also employed to !\.nalyze occurrences in groups in which there was no question about that particUlar group's productivity. For example, Monday night's house management group had no concrete product that was reported to the rest of the staff, yet the code was employed to account for events there. It was a group in which troubles in the house; this week's agendum, and complaints and suggestions about the house and its administration were discussed between a staff member and

all the residents. The residents were invited to talk about anything
they wished. On some occasions a number of residents would join forces in arguing against the way the house was being administered, leaving the single staff member alone in defending the administration policies. The single staff member sometimes analyzed what had gone on in this group with me (and another staff member, if one were around) in a 'rump session' after group had been held. The code was prominent in the analyses. On one such occasion, a number of residents had argued that it was difficult for them to find jobs, because after the first few


1 59

days they had exhausted their funds and had no money for transportation. Even residents who were employed joined in the argument in support of the unemployed. They argued that the halfway house should regularly supply transportation money. The single staff member argued that each resident who came from prison had approximately


in release funds, and he was

supposed to save that money for things like transportation. If a man's money were exhausted, the parole agents had funds that they could release in small amounts for transportation. At every turn the residents would argue against the staff member's claim by saying that not all residents entered halfway house directly from prison, that parole agents were often not around, etc. In the rump session, the staff member interpreted this occurrence as 'a clear example of delinquency2 reinforcing itself', which was his way of saying that the line that the residents were arguing was a deliberate attack on the program. What the other residents were doing by joining in was sanctioning that attack. In another rump session, I heard the same analysis applied to another incident in which residents joined each other in arguing against payment of the bill before they were released from the house. Staff not only explained troubles to each other in terms of the code, but they also advised each other about the effects of the code and urged strategies upon one another for coping with the code. For example, in one instance in which I sat in on a case conference, an agent was being told that one of his parolees had missed group. House staff was urging the agent to lecture the resident about it:
Staff applied the terms 'delinquency', 'delinquent orientation', and 'delinquent' not only to the men, but to each other as well. That it meant action in compliance with the code is most clearly seen in the ways they applied these labels to each other. An agent would be called delinquent or delinquently oriented (a) when he refused to give other staff information about a resident, most often that a resident was using, i.e., when he refused to 'snitch ' ; (b) when he balked at taking actions to interfere with a p9.rolee's illicit pleasure, as for example, in actively prohibiting a man from persisting in a common-law marital relationship ; (c) when he refused to take seriously someone's rule violating behavior, shrugging it off as nothing much ; (d) when he took the residents' side in an argument against other staff. All of these matters are provided for by maxims of the code.




"You always have guys like this testing the limits. They are just delinquents. If you let him miss a meeting without confronting him with it, you are giving him a pass. You are telling him it's okay to miss group, so he's gonna continue doing it until you check him." From other remarks the advising staff member had made, it was clear in the context that the absentee would continue missing meetings, because he could not appear to his fellows as voluntarily complying with staff's mere requests to attend group. In another case conference, one staff member advised another that the code extended to the kind of men you find in pool rooms. An agent reported a case to his supervisor in which one of his parolees had been arrested with his brother for hitting a man in a bar with a pool cue. However, since no charges were pressed, the agent was going to disregard the incident, assuming that nothing had actually happened. He was advised by the supervisor that men in a pool hall, just like those in the halfway house, would not snitch on one another, so the agent should not assume that nothing had happened. He was further advised that, "These people don't press charges, because it develops into a family feud. You had better ask the police what they think happened in this case, before you decide you don't need to write a report on it." Telling the Code

a Method of Managing Sta ff's Circumstances

Through these examples, it can be seen that the code was usable by staff in explaining, describing, and strategizing about resident behavior, not only in talking with the researcher, but also in dealings between themselves. On the occasions in which the code, its categories, and analogues of the code were offered by staff to staff, they were accepted as factual. That is, 'telling the code' was unquestioned, and to the extent it suggested action, it was usable as the socially sanctioned grounds of action. Through these accounts, staff identified actual or anticipated actions and events as instances of the same kinds of troublesome occurrences they had seen before and already knew how to deal



with. Couching the accounts in the language of the code portrays the occurrences as independent of the particular resident personnel that were involved, e.g., it was not simply. that those particular ten new residents were 'testing the limits', but that any group of new residents would 'test the limits'. The occurrences were also thereby characterized as independent of the particular issues over which they had occurred, e.g., resident resistance to a committee was independent of the particular work of that committee, or disputes with staff over transportation were independent of residents' actual needs for transportation money, etc. The occurrences that were accounted for by use of the code and its analogues were also thereby seen as independent of the staff member who was involved. That is, it was not that this particular staff member had done something to the residents that obtained hostility or resistance in response. Instead, the code account provided that residents would behave that way toward any staff member. The trans-situational and non-situation specific character of 'telling the code' made it llseful f staff in managing their relation or ships with each other. It served to relieve staff members of some of their responsibilities for motivating residents to participate in the program. It accounted for the relative lack of productivity in those aspects of the program which called for staff and residents to work together. It served to defend staff and staff ideas against the complaints of residents. It did these things by focusing attention away f rom the substance of the interactions, the substance of staff-resident work, and the substance of resident complaints . a.bout staff and staff programs. By 'telling the code', staff could discount resident talk and action as not 'really' substantive complaints and resistance to something in particular. Instead, they could interpret that talk and action as compelled by the residents' code-required need to show their loyalty to each other and to show their lack of trust in staff. As a mode of giving advice among staff, 'telling the code' typically served as a warning that residents could not be trusted and that residents often 'needed' to be ordered to take action

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- requesting something of them was not enough. It served in a similar way when it was used to devise strategies for dealing with residents. In general, 'telling the code' served to justify staff's control over residents, because it tended to portray residents as unable to freely cooperate with staff. Finally, 'telling the code' also relieved staff members of much of their responsibility to be knowledgeable about the affairs of specific residents, since the code provided for prohibitions against a resident's confessing to staff and against a resident's informing staff about the affairs of other residents.

Sta Use o the Code in Sta ff f ff-Resident Interactions

The code was also employed by staff in talking to the residents. It went full circle, being mostly employed by residents in explaining themselves to staff, then in staff's explaining residents to other staff, and finally, on s ome occas ions, staff's actively promoting the story of the code to the residents. Although I saw only limited direct evidence of it, staff apparently intervened to prevent (what appeared to them to be) violations of the code. In telling me about his concern for snitches and snitching, for example, one staff member said :
PA : If Gonzales [one of his cases] came in here and started blabbing about somebody in such a way that other people would know about it, I'd be concerned for him. I would try to prevent him from doing that. W : Why ? PA : Because I have a concern for him. I wouldn't want anybody killing him.

In one case that I observed, staff were consulting each other about a resident who was taking their side in group. They said that he was a bit stupid and did not see that it looked like he was being disloyal to the other residents. They proposed that they should tell the resident to be less cooperative, so that he would not get himself into trouble.



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Staff openly talked about their low regard for snitches in the presence of residents. Staff warned residents about snitches in the community that they had learned about from police and from other parolees. Staff treated the matter of snitching as recognizably immoral in the community from which the residents came, so that, for example, when one mother called a parole agent to find out why she could not see her son in jail, he told her that her son was sick. After hanging up the phone, he explained the incident to me and to two other parole agents in the room who had over heard his end of the phone call : "I told her her son was sick. How could I tell her that her son was in a special section for his own protection because he had snitched ?" Copping out (confessing), on the other hand, was not a matter which parolees said would result in physical punishment or ostracism. It was merely regarded as a bit square and stupid. When parolees did cop out (typically, confess to having used drugs), agents treated it as something special. It was a good sign. It showed that the resident was becoming square. It showed that he had good will. Agents said that 'copping out' was a particularly difficult and rewardable act because of the code prohibition against 'copping out'. They were much more likely to treat drug use uncovered by confession more gently than drug use uncovered by other means. They did this by telling the man that he must stop his use of drugs and must demonstrate that fact by taking a nalline test in four days, instead of jailing the man and reporting his relapse to the Adult Authority. In these cases, staff treated the code as a real object in their environment and acknowledged its force in their dealings with residents by rewarding the code's violation. Thus, staff not only accepted resident accounts of the code and employed them in dealing with their own troubles, but also employed code accounts in their dealings with residents in such a way that they sanctioned the code for residents. Staff showed their understanding of the moral meanings and the threatened sanction of the code. They discouraged 'snitching' and 'ass kissing'. They did not encourage shows of friendliness or 'excessive '




voluntary compliance from residents, so that residents could continuously show their loyalty to each other. Staff made it possible for residents to do 'what they really wanted to do after all ' (i.e., participate) by ordering them to do it or by openly offering rewards, the receipt of which could be pointed to as the understandable motive for resident participation. In these ways, staff recognized or acknowledged the idea of the code as a legiti mate moral order in the setting.



could say

that the 'telling of the code' was a formulation of

the organized character of resident life which residents and staff provided as a narrative which accompanied their affairs. The fact that the code was titled would make it appear to be some kind of 'oral tradition' which had the moral force to govern the affairs of contemporary residents. Indeed, as I have indicated, residents spoke ofthe long-standing, 'what-I-was-taught-as-a-child' character of the code. It was also the case that the code was 'told' in showing the organized character of resident life. This was so in the ways that the reciting of the code 'formulated' a particular occurrence being presently talked about as an instance of a typical occurrence. For example, the staff-aide's resistance to going to a neighborhood bar with parole agents was a show of his loyalty to the residents and was analyzed by him as an instance of avoiding the possibility of being seen as a snitch or other kind of turncoat. It would appear that one

could speak

of the code as an 'oral

tradition' which was employed to instruct outsiders (like myself and staff) as to the organized character of what they had seen, were seeing, or would see. That is, one

could say

that residents

employed this narrative to point out that an event, or 'our relation ship', or the behavior of that other resident, or the resident' s own behavior were instances o f patterns which were long-standing, which had been seen before, and which would be seen again. One would also then say that residents were 'telling the code '


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in showing, or perhaps to show, that the particular event under consideration would have been enacted by 'any resident', because persons who were residents were morally constrained to act in that fashion. That is, the code was employed to explain why someone had acted as they had and that that way of acting was necessary under the circumstances. In brief, one would be saying that the code was employed by residents to analyze for outsiders and perhaps for themselves for they the were 'social-fact' noting character of their circumstances, particular occurrences

as instances of regular-patterns-of-action-which-are-produced-bY compliance-to-a-normative-order. While one

could propose such an analysis of the code as an

exegetical organizing narrative, that would be something like a narrative which is offered by the tour guide of a museum or the narration for a travelogue film, to do so woud be misleading. Such an analysis, if it simply left the matter here, would be mis leading in precisely the ways that a travelogue narrative differs from the 'telling of the code'. Since I find the travelogue narrative helpful by contrast, let me indicate what I understand as its features. In the travelogue story of a voyage, one encounters the story shown on the screen and the identifications, explanations, and descriptions of the narrative heard over a loud speaker as discreet occurrences - narrative and picture. One hears the narrative as an outside commentary on the events depicted visually. In the case of 'purely narrative films', the sound track never cuts to ongoing conversation or other sounds of events shown visually. Whatever talk comes over the loud speaker, and all of that which comes over the loud speaker, is narrative. The narrative begins with the beginning of the film and 'completes itself' by the end. Whoever speaks on the sound track is doing narration. Typically, explanations are temporally juxtaposed to the scenic occurrences they explain. Finally, one listens to the narration and sees the film passively as a depicted scene for one's enjoyment or edification, not as an object that one must necessarily actively encounter and immediately deal with. Coupled with the feature of the passive audience, the narrator speaks f whomever listens. or

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The parties hearing him are unknown to him, do not act upon his fate, and indeed have no involvement with him beyond their li6tning. 'Telling the code' contrasts with each of the above enumerated features of the travelogue narration. The crucial difference is that the code was not encountered 'outside' the scene it was purportedly describing, but was told within that scene as a continuous, connected part of that scene by being manifested as an active consequential act within iL The talk occurring in the halfway house that invoked the code, referred to the code, or relied on the code for its intelligibility, then, was not simply or merely a description of life in a halfway house. Instead, this talk was at the same time part of life in the halfway house, and it was a part that was itself included within the scope of things over which the code had jurisdiction. It is in this sense that talk involving the code was reflexive within the setting of its occurrence.


We have just considered a variety of ways in which the code was 'about' the setting and a variety of ways in which its telling within the setting defined or described a real environment of events for the researcher and for the staff. But it has been suggested as well that 'telling the code' as an activity (the fact that 'telling the code' was done within the setting of the halfway house as a continuous, connected, and consequential part of that scene) must be directly examined in its own terms. Let us begin by considering the matter of 'the 'a"tive-consequential-act' aspect of 'telling the code' one of the two aspects of what ethnomethodologists call the reflexive properties of natural language accounts. We focus our attention first, then, on the ways in which natural language accounts (in this case, 'telling the code') are acts within the scene that they describe.

' Telling the Code' as Simultaneously Formulating Many Aspects of the Scene and Having Many Consequences Within That Formulated Scene
'Telling the code' was not heard as a 'disinterested' report delivered in the manner of a narrator who was speaking to unknown and distant perons about matters upon which they could not act. Instead, the code was being 'told' about matters which were critical to hearer and listener, because 'the telling' formulated ,and fed into their joint action. In contrast to that sort of narrative which is a description of the events displayed on a screen, the code

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was often 'told' about the immediate behavior of the hearer and teller. It was multi-formulative and multi-consequential in the immediate interaction in which it was told and multi-formulative and multi-consequential in and for the occurrence of that inter action as an aspect of the social organization of the halfway house. As a first step in explicating this multi-consequential and multi formulative character of 'telling the code', let us examine the range of 'work' that a single utterance can accomplish. When talking

with residents, staff and I often had a relatively friendly

line of conversation terminated by a resident's saying, "You know I won't snitch." Hearing such an utterance f unctioned to re-crystalize the immediate interaction as the present center of one's experiential world. 'You know I won't snitch', multi-for mulated the immediate environment, its surrounding social structures, and the connections between this interaction and the surrounding social structures. It (a) told what had just happene - e.g., 'You just asked me to snitch'. It (b) formulated what the resident was doing in saying that phrase - e.g., 'I am saying that this is my answer to your question. My answer is not to answer'. It (c) formulated the resident 's motives for saying what he was saying and doing what he was doing - e.g., 'I'm not answering in order to avoid snitching'. Since snitching was morally inap propriate for residents, the utterance, therefore, formulated the sensible and proper grounds of the refusal to answer the question. It (d) formulated (in the fashion of pointing to) the immediate relationship between the listener (staff or myself) and teller (resident) by re-Iocating the conversation in the context of the persisting role relationships between the parties - e.g., 'For

you to ask me that, would be asking me to snitch'. Thus

saying, "You know I won't snitch", operated as a renunciation, or a reminder of the role relationships involved and the appropriate relations between members of those categories. It placed the ongoing occasion in the context of what both parties knew about their overriding trans-situational relationships. It (e) was

one more

formulation of the features of the persisting role relationship between hearer and teller - e.g., ' You are an agent [or state re-


1 69

searcher] and I am a resident-parolee. Some things you might ask me involve informing on my fellow residents. Residents do not inform on their fellows. We call that snitching'. Besides reminding the participants of a trans-situational role relationship, the features of that trans-situational role relationship were originally and continuously formulated through such utterances as, 'You know I won't snitch'. Beyond the multi-formulative character of this single utterance, it was also a consequential move in the very 'game' that it formulated. As a move in that field of action which it formulated, it pointed to the contingencies in that field as they were altered by

this move. Furthermore, the utterance as a move obtained its

sense !lnd impact from those altered contingencies. Much of the persuasiveness of 'telling the code' consisted in its. .character as a move in the field of action which it also defined. By saying, 'You know I won't snitch', (a) the resident negatively sanctioned the prior conduct of the staff member or myself. Saying that the question called for snitching was morally evaluating it and rebuffing me or the staff. The utterance (b) called for and almost always obtained a cessation of that line of the conversation.

It was, therefore, consequential in terminating that line of talk.

In terminating that line of talk, it (c) left me or staff ignorant of what we would have learned by the question had it been answered. And it (d) signaled the consequences of rejecting the resident's utterance or the course of action it suggested. By saying, 'You

know I won't snitch', the resident pointed to what he would do if

the staff persisted. He 'said' he would not comply, irrespective of the staff's wishes. He thereby warned that the conversation would turn nasty if staff or I did not retreat from the question. He also pointed to the staff's obligation (or my obligation) to be competent in the affairs of residents. To refuse to acknowledge the sense and appropriateness of the resident's response was to risk being seen as incompetent in the eyes of all other residents and staff. Finally, by noting that what was being requested was

snitching, a resident pointed to the consequences for himself if he

were to go ahead and answer the question. The potential conse-

1 70


quences for him could include beatings and even death. Since staff was obliged to protect residents, this fate was also consequential for them. The potential consequences of refusing to accept the credibility of the resident's response made that response persuasive.

The Details of the Consequential Persuasive Character of 'Telling the Code'

Staff regularly encountered residents' 'telling the code' as a way in which their questions and suggestions were answered. Residents explained why they had done something, what they would 'have to do' under various circumstances, and why they could not do what staff had asked of them by 'telling the code'. In group and in private encounters, staff was told by residents that, for example, "I can't tell you that; that would be snitching." And, for example, when one resident was asked to find another (his friend) who was absent from the house, he replied, "It's not safe for me to interfere with someone's life ; I can't be my brother's keeper." When a staff member suggested that a resident organize a pool tournament, the resident answered, "You know I can't organize the pool tournament, because it would look like I'm kissing ass." Or, when several agents and I were discussing street prices of marij uana with a resident, he stopped the conversation by saying, "I don't think that I had better tell you any more about the marijuana market, 'cause it would look like I'm joining your side." Replies to staff's suggestions and questions Which were phrased in this way were interactionally sufficient to terminate the request, i.e., staff did not pursue the matter further. On the many occasions in which 1 heard residents make replies of this sort, 1 never saw staff question the relevance, legitimacy, or factual character of the reply, while I often saw staff question other kinds of replies in just those terms. When a resident proposed that he did not -want to do something because it was an inefficient use of his time, or that he had some other obligation which he had to meet instead, or that he preferred to do something else, etc., staff often challenged the relevance and/or truthfulness of the resident' s story.



Thus, a resident's naming o f a proposed act (such as the act of telling staff something or the act of participating in something) as a code-relevant event was a practically adequate answer to staff's requests, i.e., it effectively countered a request or demand in such a way that the resident was not required by staff to further justify his refusal. Moreover, on many occasions, staff not only 'heard the code' and accepted it, but also acceded to residents ' requests when the code was offerred as grounds for action. This is illustrated in the following observations. On many occasions, I saw residents attempt to obtain release from the halfway house before they had met the conditions for release, i.e., before they had obtained a job and paid their bill. Residents told their agents and house staff that they could save money by living elsewhere. They complained that they found it difficult to abstain from using drugs when others around them were using. Some black residents complained that the chicanos would have nothing to do with them and that they were, therefore, very uncomfortable at the house. Other residents argued that they could get a job more quickly if they Hved with their relatives, who would lend assistance and supply transportation in finding a job. Staff did not acknowledge these grounds as acceptable. However, when the resident Pablo (mentioned in Chapter Four) told his agent that he was afraid that another resident thought that he was a snitch, stemming from an incident some years before, the agent had Pablo released from halfway house in light of Pablo's fears about what the other resident would do, even though he had no job and had not yet paid his bill. When the agent spoke about the incident with other staff members and 'Yith me, he insisted that we understand that Pablo was not really a snitch. Whenever 'telling the code' occurred, it was consequential. In Chapter Five, we saw that when a staff member 'told the code' to other staff members, he did so as a method of managing his relationships with his colleagues. It served to relieve staff members of some of their responsibilities for motivating residents to participate in the program. It tempered staff's obligation to be

1 72


knowledgeable about the affairs of residents, since they could explain their ignorance by referring to residents' unwillingness to cop out or snitch. A staff member could defeat a proposal for the program by 'telling the code' to show that the proposal was 'unrealistic'. 'Telling the code ' served to defend staff and staff ideas against the complaints of residents. It was also consequential in justifying staff's control over residents and staff's unwillingness to trust or give responsibilities to residents. When residents 'told the code' to staff, it had a similar conse quentiality. In the cases we have just examined, one resident avoided looking for his friend, many avoided answering staff's questions, another avoided organizing a pool tournament, and Pablo obtained release from the halfway house without getting a job and without paying his bilI.1 In each of these cases, the specifics of the 'telling of the code'


have been motivated

by the anticipated consequences, and 'plainly' the consequences occasioned the f act of the telling. For example, the resident who told staff that organizing the pool tournament would have been an act of 'joining their side' might have elaborated, perhaps even invented, a provision of the code to deal with the contingency of being asked by staff to do something for other residents, when he 'actually' chose not to organize the pool tournament because he believed that that activity would be personally unrewarding. A resident might have alluded to the code's prohibition against snitching in terminating a conversation with me in a bar, not because I had inadvertently asked him to snitch, but because he had pressing business with others there and wanted to be rid of me.

Even the consequences have consequences. By offering such accounts of

their behavior and their circumstances to staff, residents effectively dealt with staff demands that they say more about what they and their fellows were really doing. These accounts effectively dealt with staff demands that residents willingly participate in staff sponsored activities and that they become involved in planning and carrying out the program. In general, the accumulation of incidents in which 'telling the code' defeated staff's plans and staff's tendency to foresee such defeats meant that staff's actual demands for resident partici pation were reduced well below the level called for in the program pll\D.. This was so to such an extent that the actual round of activities at halfway house only vaguely resembled the program plan.



One might imagine that these contingencies were so standardized as to have been well 'codifie d' and required the residents to turn down the requests. Nevertheless, the fact that they were confronted by a request and wanted or 'needed' to turn it down occasioned 'telling the code' in the fashion that it was actually told. Even when the code was being told 'neutrally' in a situation in which what was being talked about was not an issue, as was the case when I or a novice agent probed a parolee about the code in general, the fact of the telling was itself an event which, when understood in terms of the code, was special and meant that the parolee was being friendly by 'telling the code'. Furthermore, the telling was of generalized consequentiality in the ways that it informed me or the agent of the proper limits of our action. The visible consequentiality of 'telling the code' and its 'open, flexible . structure' (which gives it the capacity to explain a very wide range of events) raises the possibility that what was being told in 'telling the code' was manufactured by the teller for the occasion in order to bring about just those consequences. From the sta!1dpoint of the teller, the visible consequentiality and the 'open, flexible structure' of 'telling the code'

invite the free

invention of the specifics of a given instance of 'telling the code' in order to bring about some set of consequences. This suggestion might be countered with the argument that neither the staff nor I were so naive as not to suspect that possibility and would not have permitted ourselves to be 'led down the primrose path' quite so easily. At the very least, we made a judgment about the story as told and its 'fit' with what we had learned about the code thus far. Yet, as we have seen, 'telling the code', like every other collection of rules in use, had an open, flexible structure or, in Garfinkel's terms, had an etcetera clause.2 It did not consist of a fixed set of maxims, nor did any given maxim (i.e., stated
2 The etcetera clause refers to an unspecified condition of rules-in-use wherein present occurrences which were 'unforeseen in' or 'unpledicted by' some prior formulation of a rule or agreement are none the less brought under the auspices of that rule or agreement and are seen by witnesses to the occurrence as being in compliance with that rule or agreement. Etcetera and other 'ad hoeing' practices have been an important theme of ethnometho-

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at a given time) have a definite scope of application. In every case in which the code was mentioned (literally 'heard to have been mentioned', since the mentioning was not usually named as such), it was up to the hearer to identify the 'telling of the code' as 'telling the code' and to search out and discover the linkages between 'this telling' and what he understood to be the code. Moreover, the hearer was in the position of having to depend on this same telling and others of no more definite character to tell him of what the code consisted in the first place. The hearer was not in a position to make 'harsh judgments' about the relevance of any specific telling to what he understood as a proper 'telling of the code' . This is not to suggest that any proposal whatsoever would have been acceptable, but just how such judgments would have been rendered is, at the least, open to considerable manip ulation, since the open, flexible structure of the code precludes the possibility of comparing some present story with what is definitely known about what a 'telling of the code' should consist of. The thesis that residents actively manipulated staff's under standing of what was going on around them cannot be easily defeated.3 It does not require that we imagine that the residents told one 'line' to the staff and the researcher while holding in reserve some hidden knowledge of what the code 'really' after all consisted. The ways in which residents learned the code may well be of the same character as the ways in which staff and researcher learned that code. What cn be supposed about such matters on the basis of what has been observed suggests that this would be precisely the case. Moreover, when inmates or criminals do 'tell the code' to each other, it would have a parallel consequentiality. In every case of 'telling the code', the teller may . have been motivated to formulate it so that it furthered his imme diate interactional interests.
dological research. (See Garfinkel, 1967, Chapters One and Three ; Bittner, 1963; Sacks, 1963 ; Leiter, 1969; Wieder, 1 970; Zimmerman, 1 970.) 3 The thesis that staff members manipulated each others' understanding in the attempt to justify their own actions, strategies, or proposals is subject to the same kind of argument.


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Since 'telling the code' was taken seriously (by me and by staff) as an active part of the environment, it did not simply describe, analyze, and explain the environment, but was as well a way in which residents (and staff, when they 'told the code ') guided conduct through effective persuasion. The code operated as a device for stopping or changing the topic of a conversation. It was a device for legitimately declining a suggestion or order. It was a device for urging or defeating a proposed course of action. It was a device for accounting for why one should feel or act in the way that one did as an expectable, understandable, resonable, and above all else acceptable way of acting or feeling. It was, therefore, a way of managing a course of conversation in such a way as to present the teller (or his colleague) as a reasonable, moral, and competent fellow. The code, then, is much more a method of moral persuasion and justification than it is a substantive account of an organized way of life. It is a way, or set of ways, of causing activities to be seen as morally, repetitively, and constrainedly organized. This means that inasmuch as the way that alter's activity appears to ego as coherently organized and meaningful is dependent on the ways alter talks about what he is doing, ego's sense for what alter is doing is contingent upon whatever 'goals', 'projects', or 'interests' alter attempts to realize in or through his interaction with ego. For example, the fact that a resident's activity appears to a parole agent as a more or less clear instance of 'refusing to participate as a means of showing other residents that one is trust worthy ' depends on the talk that this or other residents have done. That they talked in the way they did and in turn caused the agent to have that impression was dependent on what they were trying to accomplish in their interaction with the agent, e.g., trying to avoid participation or present themselves as 'good parolees '. Guided perception through description has the character of being subject to 'interests' in this way, because the same explanatory and descriptive utterances often are, and always can be, sanctions, justifications, or urgings of some course of action in the relation ship between hearer and speaker.

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This would further mean that what a scene appears to be in general, i.e., appears to be beyond the immediate here-and-now one-sided perception of it, is continuously contingent upon the particular goals or projects of the participants in the particular here-and-now occasion. Just how these and other contingencies operate will be analyzed in a later section. It will be shown that the coherent, organized, and meaningful sense of the environment is contingent upon the 'describing' that members do. However, it depends as well upon the active searching for coherent sense and meaning that listeners do as a necessary step in their own efforts to deal rationally with their environment, whether that effort is directed toward more description or is preparatory to mundane goal accomplishment. But first let us consider the persuasiveness of 'telling the code' and the character of staff's acceptance of it. By accepting and supporting (residents') 'telling of the code' as the real grounds of resident action, staff thereby acknowledged that the code was enforced and that residents were acti ng reasonably when they were responsive to the meanings of events which resulted from formulating those events in terms of the code. This does not mean, however, that the staff 'agreed with' or 'liked' the code. It merely means that staff openly recognized that the code was operative. For example, when I asked Pablo's agent in a tape-recorded interview what he thought a resident should do if he discovered that his jeweled watch had been stolen, he replied :
PA : I think he should do the same thing I should do. Number one, see if he can recover it himself. If there is a possibility that it can be recovered by reporting it - report it. This [reporting it] is going to be in conflict with his code, but I don't approve of this code anyway. I think this code is kind of stupid, but it's necessary, because he never knows when he's going to walk in the yard at San Quentin. and if it comes to light that he snitched on some guy stealing his gold watch, he's liable to find a shiv [knife] in his


In general, staff treated these accounts as persuasive by accepting them at the time (in the interaction itself), and staff effectively acted on these accounts by taking or proposing action and then



offering these same accounts as 'good grounds' for their (staff's) actions. I say staff treated the accounts as persuasive and that ff act that the obser they e ectively acted on them to emphasize the f vables consist of what staff did and not what they 'really' thought. It was always possible that an individual staff member not only 'disagreed' with the code, but that he also did not think that what a resident was telling him, in a particular case, was factual - either with respect to the code or with respect to some particular of the concrete circumstance the resident described. Nevertheless, even in the face of these possibilities, staff did act in the observed fashion and were thereby 'effectively' persuaded when 'telling the code' occurred. There were several features of 'telling the code' that made residents' accounts which invoked the code difficult for staff and for me to ignore. 'Telling the code' as an act by residents directed toward staff was emphatically persuasive in the ways that it capitalized on the reflexivity of talk. That is, an act of 'telling the code' made much of the fact that it not only was formulative and descriptive of the relationship between staff and residents, but that the telling itself was a potent act in that formulated and described relationship. Thus, 'telling the code' was persuasive not by virtue of what was merely said as such, but by virtue of the kind of interactional event that 'telling the code' was between staff and resident, given that what kind of event it was, as we have seen, was (sometimes implicitly) formulated or signaled in that very same utterance. By . 'telling the code', a resident confronted staff with certain negative consequences of refusing to credit or accept the account. By being recognized as an instance of 'telling the code', the utterance 'identified itself' as an act with those possible negative consequences. In some cases, the consequences of refusing to accept the utterance were framed within the utterance itself. The dependence of its acceptance on the possibility of the negative consequences which would follow from its rejection made 'telling the code' effectively persuasive. By being a critical event within the order of affairs it formulated, and by having its persuasive potency depend upon that order-as-formulated, 'telling the code '



was persuasive by capitalizing on the reflexivity of talk. By direct statement or allusion, a resident told staff in 'telling the code' of the awful consequences which would befall the resident (which staff was obliged to avoid) if the staff member did not accept this instance of 'telling the code' as a credible account and act. He also told or signaled the consequences of the staff member's loss of perceived competence in the eyes of other staff and residents and the consequence of the conversation 'turning nasty' if the staff member were to refuse to accept the resident's account.

E ective Persuasion in 'Telling the Code' by Stating ff or Alluding to Matters o Staff's Responsibility f
It has been previously noted that when residents explained their behavior in terms of the code, they either directly said or alluded to the fact that if they were to behave differently, they might be beaten or killed. Since staff were prof essionally responsible for the residents' 'fate' and since they professed at least concern for the residents, this feature of 'telling the code' could be and often was cited by staff or residents to render the residents' stories relevant to staff's prof essional obligations. If a resident's story were believed true, from staff's point of view, there was no choice but to count it as 'good grounds' for their taking some type of action which accepted the proposals of the story. This feature of the code was so cogent that it would have been difficult for staff to discount an event formulated by 'telling the code', even if they strongly suspected that the formulation in this particular case was, in fact, false. Staff's circumstances were like those of a fire department responding to a street comer alarm. Even if the officials know that three out of four alarms are false, each signal must be responded to as if it were valid, in light of the serious consequences of not responding to a real alarm, and in light of the fact that it is not possible to differentiate between true and false alarms before responding to them. Staff's response to a 'telling of the code ' as a truthful account, however, precluded rather than opened the possibility of verifying the truthfulness of the account. The very


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action that staff would take by accepting a resident's story would preclude the calamitous consequences portended by the resident's account. In this fashion, a resident's explanation employing the code was accompanied by a thleat which, ifit were a bluff, was told in circum stances that made its test impossible. Even if staff had attempted to test the veracity of a resident's 'telling the code', the calamitous event portended by the resident's story would likely have been car ried out in such a way that staff would never have seen it. For ex ample, the potential consequence of a resident's being beaten or killed would most likely occur much later, out of sight of staff, and done in such a way that the question of why it was done and who did it could not be discovered. However, as we shall see in considering other features of 'telling the code' which made it persuasive, staff's refusal to accept an account was quite unlikely to have the con sequence of the resident's complying with the request of staff which prompted the resident to 'tell the code' in the first place.


E ective Persuasion by ' Telling the Code' ff a Threat to Sta ff's Competence in the Organization

The possibility of a staff member's loss of perceived competence in the eyes of other staff and residents was a vocalized concern in the setting. Staff spoke with each other and with me about gaining and sustaining the respect of residents. Seeing that 1 regularly talked with residents, staff interrogated me about how they were seen by residents. Staff asked me if they were respected, taken seriously, and seen as competent. They also wanted to know . if they were seen as humane and supportive, but in most cases, staff treated these matters as secondary, and some staff treated these considerations as irrelevant. Staff sanctioned each other about looking like a fool in front of the residents (not being 'in the know' about the 'real' cir cumstances and 'real' relationships of residents) on the one hand, and they sanctioned each other about being taken in by resident manipulations on the other. Residents spoke to me and to some

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staff in my presence about some staff members who, they said, had little knowledge of the affairs of hypes, residents of halfway house, and criminals in general. They were described by those residents as stupid, square, fools, and naive, and, therefore, they could not be respected. When residents elaborated their grounds for viewing some staff members in this way, they did so by pointing to the 'stupid' expectations that some staff members held which were contrary to the provisions of the convict code. Residents coined derogatory nicknames for some staff members and passed these names on to other staff, accompanied by demeaning stories about the competence of the staff member in question. The other staff then circulated these names and stories by saying things like, 'John is really square. He thought he could get these guys to help him make the arrangements for resident entertainment. You should hear what the residents have to say about him.' Staff members ranked each other in terms of their apparent know ledgeability of resident affairs. Residents displayed respect for staff members in rough correspondence to these informal staff rankings. Residents were the acknowledged experts on those matters about which staff were supposed to be knowledgeable. However, they were 'stingy' experts who only occasionally shared their knowledge with staff. When a staff member was confronted with a resident's 'telling of the code', he was confronted by an expert in the ways of residents. By refusing to acknowledge what the tale proposed, the staff member risked looking like a novice who could not see what was being talked about, because he knew little about resident life ways. If the resident's story could be seen as compatible with the kinds of accounts of resident mores that reputably knowledge able staff told, then acceptance of the story avoided the possibility that the staff member would find himself portrayed as naive. While staff members could also lose competence in the eyes of other staff and residents by being manipulated (being taken in by residents ' stories), that possible outcome was unlikely to be seen by other staff in the case of accepting a story which involved 'telling the code'. The prototypical cases of manipulation involved



a form of deception in which a staff member was led to believe that a resident could be trusted, when in fact he was not trust worthy. Manipulation typically involved a lie or false promise which made the resident appear to be more acceptant of staff's goals and the standards of law-abiding society than he 'actually' was. The circumstances of accepting a story based on 'telling the code' differed in that the resident, rather than promising or indicating compliance, was offering a statement, the acceptance of which would exempt him from complying with staff's requests or answering staff's questions. The acceptance of a 'telling of the code' acknowledged the fact that the resident was still living in a society of criminals, even if he were not a criminal himself. Furthermore, the kinds of stories that came to be identified as manipulations involved deceptions which could ultimately be uncovered, because they involved assertions of fact which were open to verification, though perhaps not until some future time. As previously noted, statements of the code were characteristically unverifiable. These circumstances meant that an acceptance of a false version of 'telling the code' was unlikely to be visible to other staff, while a rejection of any 'telling of the code' was likely to make the staff member appear to be naive. The unverifiability of statements involving the code further enhanced its acceptance by reason of the conversational position in which a staff member was placed when he attempted to reject an account that could not be verified by staff or proven by the most well-meaning resident. When staff questioned a resident's account wl,llch did not deal with verifiable matters, staff ran the ri sk of being openly ridiculed. When a story did deal with concrete details whose factuality or falsity could be established, a staff member who doubted the story could respond by demanding proof. For example, if he did not believe the story, "1 wasn't here because I worked overtime", he could demand immediate proof by phoning the resident's employer in the resident's presence or he could wait for proof by examining the size of the resident's paycheck at a later time. Some stories, however, could not b e established as either true o r false. To question such a story and

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nevertheless demand something more f rom the resident typically rom the resident. resulted in sharp and negative responses f The use of the code as an explanation signaled the fact that the resident had said or done all that he was going to say or do, because he could say or do no more. Staff's attempt to pursue the matter f urther meant facing the possibility of hearing a reply such as, "If you can't see what I'm talking about, there's nothing that can be done for you", or, "Have it any way you like then ; that's all I 've got to say." Replies of this sort would bring the conversation to an abrupt, dramatic halt in such a way as to likely leave the staff member's reputation damaged for all those that were there to hear and for all those to whom the story might be told. The fact that 'telling the code' was effectively persuasive because of the negative consequences which would follow f rom attempts to ignore its f orce and credibility does not mean, however, that 'telling the code' was unpersuasive in the ordinary sense of persuasiveness. We have seen that staff could utilize the code to explain a wide range of events and to structure and make sensible their own environment. Furthermore, the code was useful to staff
as a method of dealing with each other in explaining and justifying

their own conduct and positions.


That form of detailed ethnographic reportage upon which chapters Five "and Six were based shows

that 'telling the code' created a

social reality for persons who heard it and shows some of the ways in which 'telling the code' was persuasive and consequential.

how 'telling the code' was productive of a social world of real events and to show how talk could be heard as 'telling the
code', however. requires a closer look at experience than ethno graphic reportage as ordinarily practiced can provide. It requires a description of how some participant at the halfway house went about the task of understanding what he heard and saw as he was hearing and seeing it. We turn to my own experiences as such (in contrast to the scenes, objects, and persons that I experienced), because there is no other place to go if we need access to an on going course of direct experience, That is, it requires a turn f rom a description of those objects which were. experienced by the ethnographer to a description of the course of experiencing those occurrences

To show

as objects.


To further the discussion of the properties of each instance of 'telling the code', a ret1,ll'n to a contrast between 'telling the code' and the travelogue narrative will be helpful. Unlike the travelogue narrative which, as the sound track of a film. is quickly recognizable

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as a commentary on that film, the recognition that some utterance was a 'telling of the code' often required active discovery on the part of the hearer. Only occasionally was an eligible utterance explicitly identified by the teller as 'telling the code'. The fact that one sometimes heard a title (The Code) only promised that there was a code to be discovered and that somehow it would have general patterns of behavior associated with it, i.e., general patterns in contrast to the particular concrete event the teller was describing or explaining. The code, as I found it, was told 'piece meal', came from many sources, and was not necessarily temporally j uxtaposed with the objects that it was purportedly about. More over, when residents were self-announcedly 'telling the code ', they also explicitly said or implied that there was more to it than was being told at that time. Thus, in several ways, what the talk was 'about' and what further instances of that talk were, were for the listener to discover. The discovery of the organized and coherent sense of the residents ' behavior, though even persuasively assisted by the residents' talking, was the task of finding particulars or instances for a title. Showing just how this is the case requires an even more detailed consideration of the way in which I, as a sociologist, formulated my description of the convict code.

The Documentary Method o Interpretation f

Equipped with what I understood to be a preliminary and partial version of the residents ' definition of their situation (which was contained in the title, 'The Code ', and several maxims), I saw that other pronouncements of residents were untitled extensions of this same line of talk. I used whatever 'pieces' of the code I had collected at that point as a scheme for interpreting further talk as extensions of what I had heard 'up to now'. Garfinkel (1967 : 78), following Mannheim, calls this kind of procedure "the documentary method of interpretation", describing it in the following terms : The method consists of treating an actual appearance as 'the document of', as 'pointing to', as 'standing on behalf of' a presupposed under-


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lying pattern. Not only is the underlying pattern derived from its indi vidual documentary evidences, but the individual documentary evi dences, in their turn, are interpreted on the basis of 'what is known' about the underlying pattern. Each is used to elaborate the other.

An example of the use of this method is provided by the inter pretation of a remark I overheard during my first week at halfway house. I passed a resident who was wandering through the halls after the committee meetings on Wednesday night. He said to staff and all others within hearing, "Where can I find that meeting where I can get an overnight pass ?" On the basis of what I had already learned, I understood him to be saying, 'I'm not going to that meeting because I'm interested in participating in the program of halfway house. I 'm going to that meeting just because I would like to collect the reward of an overnight pass and for no other reason. I'm not a kiss-ass. Everyone who is in hearing distance should understand that I'm not kissing up to staff. My behavior really is in conformity with the code, though without hearing this (reference to an overnight pass), you might think otherwise. ' I thereby collected another 'piece' of talk which, when put together with utterances I had heard up to that point (which permitted me to see the 'sense' of this remark) and used with utterances I had yet to collect, was employed by me to formulate the general maxim, 'Show your loyalty to the residents'. The scope of the maxim concerning loyalty was further elaborated a month or so later, when I attended a Monday night group. A resident had suggested that a baseball team be formed. He was then asked by the group leader (the program director) to organize the team himself. He answered, "You know I can't organize a baseball team." The program director nodded, and the matter was settled. Using my ethnography of the code as a scheme of interpretation, I heard him say, 'You know that the code forbids me to participate in your program in that way, and you know that

rm not going to violate the code.

So why ask me ?'

In this fashion, I employed my collection of 'pieces' as a self elaborating schema. Each newly encountered 'piece' of talk was simultaneously rendered sensible by interpreting it in terms of the

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developing relevancies of the code and was, at the same time, more evidence of the existence of that code. Furthermore, the inter preted 'piece' then functioned as part of of talk. At each step, the interpretation was based on what was known thus far. If I had not had the general idea of the code as an inter pretive device for translating utterances into maxims of a Illoral order, I could not have collected those utterances together as expressions of the same underlying pattern. Seeing an utterance as an expression of an underlying moral order depended on knowing


elaborated schema

itself and was used in the interpretation of still further 'pieces'

some of the particulars of that underlying order to begin

with. In the case of the convict code, having the title, 'The Code', as supplied by residents and a statement of several maxims, also supplied by residents, provided enough material to initially formulate a tentative schema. This tentative schema 'elaborated itself' as I used it to identify and elaborate the sense of objects and events in the setting. The selfsame perceptual-analytic procedure simultaneously elaborated the code and the setting as the code was employed by me as a schema. Since the use-of-the-code-as-a schema

was the procedure, the code was self- and setting-elab

orative. In this sense, it is much more appropriate to think of the code as a continuous, ongoing process, rather than as a set of stable elements of culture which endure through time. In Zimmer man and PoUner's of 'cultural elements ', rather than a successive occasions.

(1 970) terms, the code is an occasioned cor pus stable set of itemizable

elements which reoccur in, or endure through, a collection of

Code Events and Code Accounts as Indexical Expressions which Operate as 'Parts' o a Gestalt-Contexture f
A further feature of this method of 'fact gathering' or 'reality production' is the fact that the 'pieces ' collected by means of this method were indexical expressions (Garfinkel, finkel and Sacks,

1967 : 4-7 ; Gar 1970). To say that the pieces were indexical



expressions is to say that their meaning was relative to such contextual matters as (a) who was saying it (i.e., that it was a resident) ; (b) to whom it was being said (e.g., to a staff member or, e.g., myself being treated as an auxiliary of the staff) ; (c) where it was being said (e.g., in the halfway house) ; (d) on what kind of occasion it was being said (e.g., in a meeting attended by both staff and residents) ; (e) the social relationship between teller and hearer (e.g., a parolee speaking to his parole agent) ; and so forth. My understanding of these utterances depended as well on their association with behaviors that were seen as referents of this talk, but this matter will be taken up after these initial determinations are clarified. If the remark, 'You know I can't organize the baseball team', had been uttered by one staff member vis-a-vis another staff member, I would have heard the remark as something else entirely. Depending on

which staff member was talking and which staff

member was listening, the remark could have been heard as, 'You know that it is your job, since you are on the recreation committee and I am not.' Had it been a case-carrying parole agent who was on the recreation committee speaking to the program director, I would have heard (and presume that the program director would have heard) the remark as, 'You know that I am already putting more time into the program than I can afford as it is ; I couldn't possibly do more. ' Or, had the remark been uttered by a resident to a staff member outside the context of their staff-resident relationship (as might be the case if both belonged to some other organization and were talking to each other as members of that organization), the remark could easily have been heard as, 'I don't know enough about baseball or organizing to organize the baseball team.' If I had known nothing about the code, the remark might well have been heard in just the same way it would have been heard 'outside the context of the setting' . These hypothetical examples show that each and every one of the utterances upon which the code (or

any code) was based has no single sense. This means, in turn,
that they have no self-evident or self-explanatory sense. Instead,



the utterances as 'pieces' have a sense as constituent parts of the setting in the manner that a constituent part of a gestalt-contexture
has functional significance. Gurwitsch

(1964 : 1 34-1 35) writes :

Since each part of a Gestalt-contexture is defined and qualified by its functional significance, and since the functional significance of each part essentially refers to those of other parts, there is a thoroughgoing interdependence among all parts or constituents of a Gestalt-contexture. To be integrated into a contexture of Gestalt-character, a constitu<lnt must exist at a certain locus within, and have a certain function for, the contexture . . . Between the parts or constituents of a Gestalt-contexture, there prevails the particular relationship of Gestalt-coherence defined as the determining and conditioning o the constituents upon each other f [with respect to the meaning of each constituent]. In thoroughgoing reciprocity, the constituents assign to, and derive f rom, one another the f unctional si gnificance [meaning] which gives to each one its qualification

in a concrete case. In this sense, the constituents may be said to exist

through each other; each retaining its qualified existence only if and as long as the others have theirs. The existence of any constituent of a Gestalt-contexture relies upon other constituents or, to put it differ ently, each constituent has its existence only within a system o f f unctional significances which all complement and fit with one another . . . From the interdependence and interdetermination o f the parts o f a Gestalt-contexture, it follows that if a part is extracted from its contex ture and transformed into an element. . . the part may undergo most radical modifications. Since its functional significance is no longer determined by references to other constituents, the extracted part may cease to be what it phenomenally was.

Each utterance upon which my analysis of the code was based was meaningful in the ways that it was said-socially-in-a-context. Each utterance gave sense to the context and obtained sense from its place in that context in exactly the same way that a part of a gestalt-contexture (e.g., the left-hand member of a pair of dots) obtains its sense (e.g., as a left-hand member rather than as an isolated dot) by its perceived relationship to the other parts of the contexture (e.g., the right-hand member) while giving those other members their sense through their perceived relation to it. We have already seen that an instance of 'telling the code' (e.g., 'You know I won't snitch') in being uttered defined the present phase of the relationship between staff and residents, while obtaining


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its clear sense (for each participant) from its place in that same relationship as it had developed, an understanding of which was partially formulated through prior similar utterances and acts and further elaborated and fulfilled by the present utterance. In this context it should be noted that the mutual elaboration of 'under lying pattern' and 'documentary evidence' within the documentary method of interpretation has the same formal structure as the mutual determination of meaning (the functional significance) of parts of a gestalt-contexture. For the present argument, the most interesting determining and conditioning of constituents upon each other exists between the 'behavior patterns ' that the code was understood to be describing, analyzing, and explaining, on the one hand, and an instance. or formulation of 'telling the code', on the other. The embedded character of members' talk and the embedded character of in structions or guides to perception can be most clearly seen in the analysis of this 'ref erential' gestalt-contexture. It is in the analysis of this referential contexture that the full potency of the reflexive character of accounts can be most clearly seen. Here we can see that our perception or analysis that members are acting in patterned and motivationally coherent ways is dependent on an instructed seeing of those ways of behaving. The 'instruction' is accomplished from within a setting for an observer who attends to the ways that members talk about their affairs. The mutual dependencies and determination of the parts of a gestalt-contexture are apparent in the ways that attending to someone's talk as 'instruction' is itself dependent on seeing, in actual perception, the referential objects of their talk for that talk to be identified as a 'course of instruction' and identified for its specific sense.l

It may well be the case that the f ull circle of dependencies of talk and

its objects is a characteristic of the social world in ways that are not the case for what we typically regard as the physical world. One could argue that order and meaning in the social world is always dependent on the observability of motivated action. Motives are necessarily hidden in ways that no element of the physical world is hidden. This means that the ostensive showing of a motive cannot extend beyond the plausible connection between some kind of statement of a goal and a visible .action.

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On the other hand, what those objects are that the talk is about depends in tum on the ways that one is 'instructed' to see them.

f The Relative Determinacy of Sense o Code Events and Code Accounts

The ways a course of observation is involved in and relies upon these mutually determining dependencies can be seen in a detailed consideration of the way in which I arrived at portions of my formulation of the convict code and by hypothetically 'extracting' the data (utterances and behaviors) from their contexture and transforming them into elements. By use of this adaptation of the phenomenological method,2 it will be seen that had I been unable to rely on the reflexive, embedded character of accounts (upon which I based my formulation of the code), many unresolvable problems of analysis would have been encountered. We shall see that (a) had I attempted to formulate the code on the basis of resident talk alone,3 I could not have decied which parts of their talk


'telling the code'. (b) If I had obsCfYed the same setting,

but was deprived of the talk within it, I could not have seen which behaviors went together as 'instances' of the same pattern of behavior and which were being produced by compliance to the
2 The procedure is referred to in the phenomenological literature as the method of free variation (see Spiegelberg, 1960 [vol. 2] : 655-701). 3 The proposal has a potentially unclear sense if it is interpreted as meaning that an observer with a transcript would fit the conditions of the proposal. This would not always be the case, since conversationalists attend to each other's utterances as actions and sometimes 'formulate' what they are doing in talking in those terms. In such cases, the observer might find the 'referents' of the talk in the transcript itself. Garfinkel and Sacks (1970: 346) provide an example : JH: Isn't it nice there's such a crowd of you in the office ? SM : (You're asking us to leave, not telling us to leave, right ?) In the pare-.nthesized sentence, the 'referent' is in the previous conversationaIist's utterance. I mean to exclude such cases in the proposal such that the observer examines a transcript or hears a tape in only a 'referential' way, listening to what the conversationalists are talking about and excluding from his attention the varieties of ways that the same talk can be understood as inter ashion that Bales might treat it. actional acts, e.g., in the f



same rule. (c) If I had somehow developed all of the maxims of the code, but otherwise was deprived of the talk within it, I could not have seen which behaviors went together as 'instances' of the same pattern of behavior and which were being produced by compliance to the same rule. (d) If I had somehow developed all of the maxims of the code, but otherwise was ignorant of the setting, I could not have deduced or derived a description of a single set of behavioral outcomes that would be the product of complying with those maxims, but instead would have produced many such competitive sets. (e) If I had somehow developed a description of all of the behaviors analyzed as to types of behavior (e.g., 'doing distance' or 'doing passive compliance '), I still could not have inferred a

single set of rules which would analyze those

behaviors as the outcome of complying with that set of rules, but instead would have produced many competitive sets of rules. These circumstances can be examined by returning to the remark, 'You know I can't organize the baseball team', and the rule it was seen to express, 'Show your loyalty to the residents. ' The remark is seeable as 'telling the code' in its discovered juxta position with some fulfilling, associated behaviors, i.e., behaviors which can be understood as complying with the rule that the remark expresses. In this particular case, the remark, in fact, was uttered in a Monday night group in which residents did respond, when asked, with suggestions for program modifications and additions. With overwhelming typicality, however, residents did not volunteer or even agree to take part in the organizational work that any additions to the program would imply. When the remark in question was uttered in that behavioral context, it was seeable as an expression of the underlying rule, 'Show your loyalty to the residents . ' The rule, thereby, not only accounted for the refusal of this particular resident to volunteer at this time, but also accounted for the general pattern of not volunteering. I had tentatively assembled the rule before this point and had already observed that it seemed to prohibit residents from helping staff with their work. In this instance, volunteering to assist in resident-oriented programs and even resident-initiated programs

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was seen to fall under the auspices of the general rule. That is, hearing the remark served to specify some of the applications of the rule, 'Show your loyalty . . . ' Had I not witnessed a series of Monday night group sessions, however, I could have alternatively imagined that residents typically did volunteer to organize recreational activities, or at least tJ,leir own recreational activities. Such a possibility could not have been dismisseq by merely attending to what the residents were talking about on the particular Monday night in question. In light of this possible and plausible context of volunteering, the remark could be heard as a statement of a personal exemption, rather than as an expression of a rule, e.g., 'You know that I cannot volunteer to organize the baseball team. ' In the latter interpretation, the expression implies that the person spoken to (but not neces sarily other persons hearing the remark) knows something about the speaker which makes it inappropriate for him to organize the baseball team. In the absence of the prior observations about volunteering, either understanding of the remark is equally plausible. Equipped with a collection of prior observations, however, the hearer is led or guided to hear the remark as a statement of a rule. The observer's work of transforming remarks into statements of rules, or the task of simply hearing talk as expressions of rules, depends on the observer's discovery of some set of behaviors which are the fulfillment of those rules.4 In that juxtaposition, utterance and behavior obtain their sense as a statement-of-a-rule and an instance-of-a-pattern-of-behavior. That is, one can see an utterance as a rule with a determinate sense by locating those
4 The discovery of the behaviors which give an utterance its rule-like character need not occur simultaneously with the utterance itself. In the example that I propose, the utterance was retrospectively used, i.e., the behaviors had occurred before the utterance. It could just as well have occurred prospectively such that the observer would find that he had previously uncovered a remark that was a rule on the occasion of observing behaviors which could be seen as that remark-as-a-rule's fulfillment. The temporal features of this kind of discovery are treated in Garfinkel's discussion of the documentary method of interpretation (Garfinkel, 1967: 89-90). Further empirical investigation o f these features may be found in McHugh (1968) and Leiter (1969).


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behaviors which would be the outcome of complying with such a rule. The observer's collection of actual instances of behavior into categorized types of behavior is dependent on hearing members' talk. Through the residents' talk, I was able to tentatively for mulate what their 'rules' might be. The preformulated or ten tatively formulated rules which were based on residents' talk permitted me to see what motives any particular behavioral display was likely to be 'expressing'. This permitted me (and would permit any other observer) to organize particular behaviors into coherent, classifiable types of behavior. That is, knowing something of the rules by means of resident talk would tell an observer something of the kinds of motives he would encounter in the setting. On knowing what kind of motives he might find, an observer would then be able to see the meanings of behaviors he had encountered. Without supposing something about typical motives, the particular concrete behaviors are equivocal in their sense, i.e., any particular display could be cogently depicted as contrastive kinds of acts. If one motivational scheme is replaced with a.nother, the perceptual field is potentially altered in such a way as to radically recompose the perceived organization of the scene. Two disparate behaviors which had heretofore been seen as going together as instances of the same behavior, because they were both expressions of the same underlying motive, might no longer have a 'perceptual affinity' for one another and be seen as expressing two different motives. Similarly, two disparate behaviors which were heretofore seen as instances of two different patterns might now be seen as instances of the same pattern. For example, the behavioral particulars accounted for by the rule, 'Show your loyalty to the residents', were analyzed in my description as doing 'distance', 'disinterest and disrespect', 'passive compliance', and 'demands and requests'. Without the organizing motivational scheme of the rule, 'Show your loyalty to the residents', the particular observed behaviors organized under the named titles (e.g., 'doing disinterest and disrespect') would not



have been collected under those titles and would, in turn, have been seen by me and anyone else (e.g., the staff) as meaning something different than they were seen to mean.

If the resident behavior were 'extracted' from its surrounding

context of talk, the observer would be 'unguided' in his tentative formulations of resident rules. Without resident talk to appeal to, he could propose that residents operated under rules of strict economic rationality and maximization of democratically organized therapy just as cogently as he could propose the rule of showing loyalty toward one's fellows. That is, he could cogently propose that residents oriented their behavior to maximize their advantages and that they were also 'playing a g'lme' in which receiving a particular type of therapy was their goal. Under these rules, the behavioral particulars which were organized under the title of 'disinterest and disrespect' (such as the mode of residents' appearance at group - the slouch, facially displayed inattention, unresponsiveness to staff questions and invitations to talk, non-group-directed talk, eating in group, denouncing the ideals of the group) would then be organized under different headings. Some of these items woultl form a contextural relation with behaviors I had seen as 'instances' of another class of behavior, e.g., some behaviors portrayed previously under

the title of 'passive compliance' (which included being unresponsive

to requests for volunteers, being particularly responsive to sanc tioned demands, leaving the room immediately after group, saying in so many words that one is complying because of a sanction, asking about what is required, and doing only what is required) would become part of this same 'type' of behavior. Under the schema of the therapy 'game' and the rule of economic rationality, behavior that had been depicted as slouching, facially displayed inattentiveness, and extremely casual dress might well be seen and portrayed as appropriate therapeutic permissiveness, comfort, and relaxation that is sometimes recounted as essential to therapeutic contemplation. Being unresponsive to staff talk (from 'disinterest and disrespect') and being unresponsive to staff pleas for volunteers (from 'passive compliance'), as well as showing



up for only those activities that were required, would be organized under a title which indicated that residents would negatively sanction forms of therapy that they did not think beneficial (and they did, in fact, argue that much of what staff did in group could not be beneficial, because it supposed that as a group they would attempt to control each other's behavior, rather than each member's being singly responsible for his own acts). In that titling of the behavioral particulars, the observer would call attention to the supposition that residents did not dislike therapy programs guided by staff but, instead, simply did not approve of much of what staff put forth as therapy. Similarly, their denun ciation of group ideals could be seen as a straightforward assertion by residents that the way the staff was running group did not permit the democratic participation of residents in decisions relevant to the group. Residents' tardiness in paying bills (described in my analysis as an instance of 'passive compliance ') and residents' drinking wine in the house (from 'patterns of violations') would be organized under a title like 'minimizing monetary expenditures ' (residents often justified drinking in the house as a cheaper way to get 'high ' or stay 'high' than drinking in a bar). Behaviors which minimize monetary expenditures would be accounted for under the rule of strict economic rationality as would behaviors classified as 'minimizing expended effort'. Minimizing expended effort would be a general pattern of behavior which would include such sub patterns of behavior as resident attention to sanctions (which thereby reduces 'hassle'), the continuous attempt to detect what was required (both from 'passivt; compliance'), and the quick departure from the room as soon as group was over (from 'dis interest and disrespect'). It would also be the case that some behaviors would simply go by unnoticed under this hypothetical schema, e.g., eating in group might be such a 'non-event'. Thus, how the behaviors are seen as motivated conduct is dependent on some supposed motivational scheme (in cases like this, one supplied by rule) which is itself dependent for its determinacy on hearing talk.

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If the list of maxims which made up the code were 'extracted' from their contextural juxtaposition with the behaviors they explain, one


could not theoretically generate a set of behaviors

which matched the observed behaviors and justify not generating others that were, in fact, not observed, and a


could not generate


complementary set of behaviors and justify this 'pre

diction', If one simply knew that residents were supposed to show their loyalty to other residents as an 'in-group' opposed to the 'out-group' of staff, he could plausibly 'predict' that they would thereby (a) assume a distinctive style of dress and talk which set them apart from staff and any others ; (b) take every opportunity to show their distaste for staff through, e.g., impoliteness ; (c) never talk to staff; (d) not engage in attacks on one another either verbally or physically, or attack one another's property, as in stealing ; and (e) not inform on one another. These plausible 'predictions ' would be correct with respect to informing, would be partially correct with respect to 'not attacking one another' in terms of verbal and physical abuse, but would not be correct with respect to stealing from one another. The other plausible pre dictions would be wrong.5 If some of the behaviors actually proposedly encompassed by this rule are examined, the nonpredictability of the behaviors is even more dramatic. From the rule, 'Show your loyalty to the residents', how should an analyst propose that residents would sit at group ? Would they be 'tense and hostile' in their posture, or would they be so relaxed as to appear disinterested ? How should he expect them to respond to requests put forth by the staff? Would they be very resistant to direct orders and less resistant to permissively given suggestions that they do something, or would they undertake no action unless they were 'forced ' to do so ? In both of these instances, either chosen alternative
While it was the case that staff and residents did dress differently, inasmuch as residents dressed like other working class Mexican-Americans in the neighborhood and staff dressed in coat and tie, when residents had occasion to 'dress up' as they did for Mexican Independence Day, they did not dress in ways that distinguished them from staff.


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would be equally plausible interpretations in terms of the same rule, even though the alternatives propose opposite actions. This means that while one could take the rule and a set of actually occurring concrete behaviors and see that those behaviors could have been produced as outcomes of compliance with that rule, the rule in itself does not tell the investigator what to expect. Instead of 'predicting' behavior, the rule is actually employed as an interpretive device. It is employed by an observer to render any behavior he encounters intelligible, i.e., as coherent in terms of patterned motivation. However, in their 'natural' contextural location among the behaviors they explain, rules are ex perienced as predictive. Perceived behaviors are immediately rendered intelligible and f amiliar in their seen juxtaposition with an already known rule. This experienced predictiveness of the rule, which renders unforeseen behaviors familiar, is a consequence of the 'open, flexible structure' of (or the etcetera clause of) codes of conduct. Conversely, if the description of resident behaviors which were already analyzed and clasSified as to types were 'extracted' from the context of surrounding talk, a single set of rules which would analyze and explain these behaviors could not be inferred. Instead, the analyst would find that he could produce a variety of plausible and competitive sets of rules. This can be seen by considering the behaviors I have classified as 'doing disinterest and disrespect'. This collection of behaviors included the typical patterns of slouching at group, dressing for group with extreme casualness, directing one's attention away from the topic of the group by eye movements, being unresponsive to inquiries and suggestions of the group leader, holding side conversations, shining one's shoes, moving in and out of the group, and verbally degrading the goals of the group. In my analysis, I explained these behaviors as a means to realizing the code's injunction, 'Show your loyalty to the residents. ' In that analysis, one's loyalty to. the resident group is demonstrated by a rejection of the staff group by 'doing disinterest and disrespect' toward staff programs and proposals. However, by depriving ourselves of the guidance of resident talk



in formulating plausible rules (in this case, 'Show your loyalty . . . '), we could just as plausibly propose, among a variety of possibilities, that 'doing disinterest and disrespect' was action in compliance with the stylistic maxim, 'be cool '. Compliance with the maxim, 'be cool', requires that one show his dominance over his cir cumstances by suppressing any show of affect and interest in occurrences in his situation. Persons complying with such a rule do so out of motivations to obtain the their f ellows, in contrast to motivations to obtain the 'Show your loyalty to the residents. ' Moreover, an analyst who was open to other kinds of expla nations of the described and classified behaviors besides their possible contra-cultural production could easily discover and portray those aspects of the halfway house regime which would produce apathy or depression in the residents. For example, the residents' material circumstances were degrading when compared to those of their non-parolee friends ; their occupational prospects were not bright ; the program could be represented as dull and uninteresting; etc. To reiterate, an analyst faced with the task of inspecting an array of classified behaviors of residents in order to theoretically generate a set of rules or conditions which would produce those patterned behaviors could easily do so. He would find, however, that without the guidance of resident talk, he could have many competitive sets of rules and conditions, and he would have no way of arguing which single set among the many were, in fact, operative in the setting. THE PHENOMENOLOGY OF SOCIALLY DESCRIPTIVE

respect and admiration of trust of

their fellows, which is the motivation to comply with the maxim,

The elements of the setting, the situated talk, and other doings of the residents, when extracted (in imagination) from their juxtaThis idea and some of the ideas leading up to it are related but not identical 8 to Garfinkel's formulation of "production accounts as a collection of embedded



position with one another, become radically equivocal in meaning. In isolation, any particular display - an act, a repetition of acts (e.g., repetitively seen 'slouches '), a set of acts collected under the rubric of the same type, an utterance, a repetition of the same utterance, the naming of a collection of utterances - is equivocal in sense. Any particular display can be described and explained in a variety of competing terms. For example, the same display of behavior can be described as several different kinds of motivated actions. In Gurwitsch and HusserI's terms (Gurwitsch, 1 964 : 234-247), what is called the 'inner horizon' of each (isolated) element or part-whole frames a range of open possibilities within which the observer can find no grounds for choosing one possibility over the others. The inner horizon is that collection of references of a perception which are not given in the present direct sense experience but which are none the less co-constitutive of and co-determinative of the perceptual appearance as such. The appearance of a house from the front, for example, while not showing the backside, none the less makes necessary reference to a backside for the appearance to be a perception of a house. The backside of the house is thus an aspect of the inner horizon of the perceptual appearance of the house-viewed-from-the-front and is co-constitutive and co-determinative of that perceptual appearance. For a human body movement to be seen as an event of conduct involves necessary reference to some form of motive, goal, or intention of the actor. Yet, when we observe an event of conduct, all we are given in direct sense-experience is a body movement. The necessary reference to motive, goal, or intention itself is not given in direct sense-experience but is situated within a horizon of greater or lesser determination. Within the open
instructions" that he proposed in a talk given in Berkeley in May of 1966. It appears to me that although there is considerable comparability between the two sets of ideas and that r was undoubtedly very influenced by what I came to learn of what was said in that lecture, the ideas arrived at here were the results of a different course of reasoning, involving the use of extensive menological methods and concepts. ethnographic observation as well as the explicit employment of pheno




possibilities of the range which is framed by the goals, motives, or intentions.

inner horizon;

the same body movement may be compatible with a variety of But when the elements of a setting occur in their natural position and are juxtaposed with one another, the behaviors and talk mutually fulfill and determine one another. The range of the open possibilities of meaning of each element is narrowed by mutual specification. What talk refers to becomes specified in its trans fOl mation into 'rules' or 'instructions' wherein it is seen as sensibly related to behaviors which could fulfill it after the fashion of action in compliance with a rule. The range of possible events of conduct that are the potentialities of a single body movement become narrowed and specified when observed from the vantage point provided by embedded instruction - the talk of members about their affairs when heard as rules.7 The formulation of talk as 'telling the code' and the formulation of behaviors as code-relevantly-described and code-produced, when employed with interpretive work on the visible scenes of the halfway house, make the variety of 'expressions' of the scene through talk and other conduct assume a

relatively unequivocal,

coherent, well-ordered, understandable, and mutually elucidating form. But by this, we must understand that the transformation of talk into 'telling the code', and behavior formulated as code relevantly-described and code-produced, itself depends on the contextural location of those events in juxtaposition with one another such that they mutually fulfill and partially specify one another. The setting is ordered in perception and description in a way paralleling that of a good gestalt. It must be stressed at this point that the ordering of the setting and the definite sense the elements of the setting achieve in their contextural location is contingent and relative. The clear sense that the elements achieve in their contexture is contingent upon the concrete, historical and ongoing course of experience of the
7 In other contexts, members' talk would be heard as role titles and pre scriptions, values, attitudes, etc. and would function as potential embedded instructions in the same way as rules.



observer. Unlike the gestalt-contextures typically described in textbooks, the part-wholes under analysis here are neither given simultaneously nor are they necessarily given within spatial proximity to one another. They are given within the ongoing, concrete course of experience of some mobile observer whose focused 'attenti(;>n sees the elements or part-wholes as juxtaposed in his search for structure. Part of the contexture of any present display is located within the accumulated experience of the observer. That element whose functional significance now becomes clear and which supplies a clarifying context for the present display may have been given in direct sense-experience at some prior time. While the experiences of two or more observers may be 'similar', given their mobility in ever-changing concrete scenes, the expe riences of two or more observers cannot be identical. TI1US, even though we experience an object or event as known-in-common with others present, the experienced specificity of each successive display is relative to the concrete prior experiences of each observer. We must 'work' at the preservation of our presupposition that we observe the selfsame objects and events, i.e., that sense is our managed accomplishment. In the setting of the halfway house, some of the 'work' involved in preserving each participant's sense that he lived in a world-known-in-common-with-others was carried out by 'hearing and telling the code'. By formulating and describing actions and scenes in the language of the code and in having that talk accepted, treated as understandable, and acted upon or responded to by others, each participant had a demonstration that his understanding of what he had seen was for-all-practical-purposes equivalent to the observations of others. From the standpoint of the listeners, the fact that they could find that talk a cogent description was similarly 'reassuring'. Such reassurances are, however, hardly passive or mechanical for, as we have seen, both 'hearing and telling the code' involved active search for meaning on the part of both speaker and listener. 8 8 The full complexities of the problem of intersubjectlvity are beyond the
scope of the present work. It might be noted, however, that in this context



Besides the relativity of the observer's sense that objects within the setting have a definite meaning (which is contingent upon the observer's actual prior experiences), there is another sense in which that specificity is relative. While it is the case that the range of the open possibilities of the inner horizon of a perceived event is narrowed by its location within a contexture - the functional signification it obtains in its juxtaposition with other elements or part-wholes - this does not mean that the inner horizon is fully specified. Nor does it preclude the possibility of encountering new and startling displays which totally alter the meaning of the original experience such that what that original appearance was an appearance has

o becomes altered. The original appearance now f

functional signification within a new gestalt


contexture. The original perception with its inner horizon is 'destroyed' and replaced by another, even though the original sense-experience is woven into the newly perceived object as one of its possible appearances. Displays of the sort under analysis situated talk and behavior - are always open to further disclosure or obtain new meaning in the context of future events (or the new uncovering of prior events) and, therefore, can have no more than relative specificity at any given time. Within the course of new experience, they may become further specified or even totally altered. At any given moment, however, they and their prospective

Schutz (1962), Garfinkel (1967), Cicourel (1970), and Pollner (1970) have 'argued that the sense an event has for us as the same for each of us is dependent n the skillful usage of the idealization of 'the reciprocity of perspectives'. They argue that we take it for granted that were we to exchange positions with someone else that they would see what we had seen and vice versa. They argue further that we take it for granted that differences in our prior experiences, interests, and present concerns are irrelevant, f or-all-practical poses, to the sense that some object or event before us now has to each 'Pur (Of us and that, f or-all-practical-purposes, the event or object means the same thing to each of us. Much of Garfinkel's (1967: 1-103) and PoUner's (1970) work has been directed to showing the variety of ways in which (or methods whereby) societal members constantly manage to sustain their sense that these necessary presuppositions are viable. They argue that our sense that the world we know is 'known-in common-with-others' is a constantly managed accomplishment.



references are, or at least may be, experienced as having relative specificity of meaning. What we ordinarily think of as the convict code, then, consists of a collection of embedded instructions for perception. While those instructions are about the organization of resident affairs, they are also a f eature or aspect of that same organizatio n In this embeddedness they are, in Garfinkel's terms (1 967 : 8), reflexive :

. . . members accounts, of every sort, in all their logical modes, with all their uses, and for every method for their assembly are constituent features of the settings they make observable.

But how are the embedded instructions, as features of the settings they make observable, recognized and employed ? The name 'convict code', or a statement of any of its potential maxims, motivates a search for the code 's component maxims and its related behaviors. In carrying out the search, the code's com ponent maxims and the 'causally' related behaviors are uncovered and identified through efforts to analyze (or merely understand) and explain what residents see, feel, and think, on the one hand, and what residents, after all, are 'really doing ', on the other. The activation of the search, which the code title suggests, is achieved by an observer who actively interprets the indexical particulars (the embedded 'bits and pieces' whose sense is determined by their seen relevance to some context9) of talk and action and, in so doing, converts overheard remarks into em bedded instructions for perceiving action. The 'convict code ', in this context, appears to be little more than a suggestive title, the use of which motivates, names, and organizes the uncovering and employment of embedded instructions. Pursuit of the search and what it uncovers constitutes the setting as an ordered setting that the observer can live in and with.10 9 The idea of indexical particulars has been developed by Garfinkel in largely unpublished writings. See also PolJner (1970). 0 1 Pursuing such a search is never-ending for one who makes it his business
to bring resident and staff affairs within what Schutz (1964: 93) ref erred to as a 'field of domination'. Novice staff members and I strove to make the scenes of the halfway house familiar to us in such a way that they were progressively



We have already considered a variety of examples of the ways in which relative definite sense for what would otherwise be equivocal and unrelated displays is achieved by the observer's 'employment' of a developing sense of the convict code to narrow the range of open possibilities of the inner horizon of some perceived action or utterance. The relationships between displayed behaviors or talk, their inner horizons, and the convict code can be


as the achievement of an ensemble of 'procedures'

whereby an observer (a) specifies particular ways that successively encountered displays are related to each other and (b) locates, identifies, and names particular concretely encountered displays as typical displays in the setting and as patterns of the setting. Before proceeding, however, some comments are required about the status of such procedural descriptions. I intend the notion of 'procedures' as an initial schematic for addressing the issue of 'how' one display achieves a relative definite sense and is seen to be related to other actions and utterances. In keeping with the description and analysis that has preceded it, this initial
experienced as mOle and more complex, elaborate, definite, seeable-in-a glance, and within our control so that we finally developed a sense that we 'knew' what to expect and experienced resident talk and action as 'expectable enough for-all-practical-purposes'. That is, we experienced resident action as within our field of domination, for it was definite enough for us to gear our own actions into theirs. For such interested parties to the setting, the visible forms of talk and action are continuously constituted with growing embellishment and deter mination. Encountered behaviors which were initially puzzling to a novice staff member or researcher and unlike the familiar responses of others (such as a resident's reluctance to carry out a conversation in public) became trans formed by the explicit or tacit employment of the developing scheme of interpretation. Such events became transformed into actions which were seen in-a-glance as instances of familiar patterns. On the other hand, a participant who was indifferent to further under standing, in that he did not 'need ' to respond to and be responded to by residents (e.F., the cook or a casual observer), would encounter and experience the same scene as having a different, and perhaps more plimitive, set of structures. He might see body movements and talk as the more or less familiar patterns of persons doing such thin as 'milling around after dinner!, rather than as instances of 'doing distance', and might, for example, hear persons talking about organizing a baseball team, rather than hearing them talk about their loyalty to one another.



schematization of 'procedures' is prompted by the concepts of functional signification and indexicality, the reflexivity of accounts, the documentary method of interpretation, and the place of a developing sense of the convict code in narrowing the inner horizon of some displayed action or utterance. These conceptions are congruent with my own experience in coming to see the socially structured character of the halfway house, and the notions of . 'procedure' are motivated by those experiences. Nevertheless, the notion of 'procedure' is not literally descriptive of actual perceptual or cognitive processes. The language of procedures is quasi-deductive in tone, implies deliberateness and reflection, and depicts perceptual or cognitive acts as definite in their se quential structure. While it is possible that some observers (e.g., myself in moments of preoccupied reflection after encountering a puzzling action or utterance) do explicitly employ 'procedures' such as those schematized below, as Schutz (1964: 101) writes :
. . . we may say that the mi\mber of the in-group looks in a single glance through the normal social situations occurring to him and that he catches immediately the ready ':.made recipe appropriate to its solution. In those situations his acting shows all the marks of habituality, automatism, and half-consciousness.

Furthermore, while the procedures are congruent with those courses of displayed reasoning which are revealed in accounts of scenes, demonstrating their status as necessary elements of socially acceptable reasoning requires data that cannot be (or at least is unlikely to be) obtained by observations of natural settings. Therefore, it remains to be seen what kind of description can ultimately be assigned to the process of arriving at the relative definite sense of a code-organized setting (and by extension, the relative definite sense of any setting's organization). In developing further evidence bearing upon the nature and organization of 'members' methods' for accomplishing a sense of order, we will have to go beyond the observation of natural settings to more systematic and controlled observations. The conception of pro cedure employed here is, thus, a recommendation for an initial orientation to this further task.



the development and employment of an 'apparatus' for describing Weber's rule of adequate causal analysis is not simply a rule for deciding the adequacy of the match between a rule and some set of behaviors, but it is, rather, an operation of searching for such and explaining behaviors by reference to rules. In this context,

relative definite sense may be conceived of as achieved through

With these qualifications in mind, the accomplishment of

for what would otherwise be equivocal displays is accomplished one display to another :

that can meet the criterion of 'adequacy'. A relative definite sense by the following 'procedures' (among unknown others) for relating

linkages, and that in that search one discovers rules and behaviors

such that the utterance is a rule for producing that behavior.

behaviors is achieved by juxtaposing each element in imagination

1 . The sense of an utterance and the sense of some behavior or

plishing some goal. The goal itself is suggested partially by the as it is developed as a texture of motivations. discovery of such relatable behaviors and partially by the code

observer by his imagining them as alteptative means of accom

2. Several different behaviors can obtain a specific sense for an

intended one, thus determining the meaning of the act.

particular outcome of an act (from its many outcomes) as the

by using the developing sense of a code for selecting some

3. Behaviors can be posed as related to an intended outcome

by identifying party A's action as the cause of party B's action.

4. Behaviors of two different actors can obtain a definite sense

developing sense of the code is employed and further elaborated party B that would obtain a response 'like that' from party B. by its use in imagining what sort of act party A could do to

In doing that kind of immediate or concrete causal analysis, t he

In such a course of imaginative work, the sense of 'causal relation further specification of the sense of the code.

ship', 'party A's act', and 'party B's act' are obtained, as well as a

observer's act of reflecting on their production as role-bound

5. Behaviors and utterances obtain a definite sense by the



behaviors in which the developing sense of the code is employed as a prescription for interactions between the actor whose behavior is in question and the party toward whom he is visibly or imaginatively acting. (It was in this way that staff was able to interpret curfew violation as an act directed against themselves.) In all these ways of achieving a relative definite sense of acts and talk, the residents' occasional (though explicit) advice that such structures were to be found, and that they were f ormula table in terms of the convict code, functioned as a guide for the imagination. The sense that encountered appearances were typical, patterned appearances was also guided by residents ' formulations . The particular talk of residents which was being understood by me and by the staff as the embedded instruction of 'telling the code' formulated concrete events in the setting as typical occur rences such that manifestly diverse behaviors could be seen as instances of the same pattern. ardized, and 'Telling the code' which were explicitly formulated specific occurrences in the setting as typical, stand repetitive occurrences independent of the particular personnel in the setting at the time. That is, it was proposed and seen that what happened would have happened regardless of who-in-particular was doing it. Thus, the formulation was offered as a formulation of the 'social facts' of the setting, i.e., facts of life about 'our ways', 'our behavior', 'something about which we have no choice ', 'matters in which we as individuals have no alternative', and 'matters which you and I cannot change '. This 'instance-formulating' work (typification) is essential to the seeing of patterns - both patterns of recurrent events and patterns of sequentially related events. It 'provides for' which occurrences are to be counted as particular-to-the-organization (?f halfway house) or part-of-the-organization-as-an-event-within it. The sense of these occurrences, then, stands in contrast to the sense they would obtain if they were primarily understood in the context of events which made up that particular resident's day, or meaningful in their place in the particular historical relationship between that resident and a particular staff member, or meaningful



only as the unintended outcome of something else the resident was doing, etc. That is, 'telling the code' formulates what is part of a pattern and what is accidental to it. While the real (experientially real), stable organization of the halfway house is the attainment of a guided imagination which searches for sense through concretely experienced scenes, there are known and unknown ways in which the setting could be constituted as the observer's structured life-world through the use of other guides or interpretive schemes over the same set of particulars, i.e., other guided searches would relate the particulars in other ways and with another sense. Yet, as was noted in Chapter Six, the code was not obtained as merely one alternative guide or scheme of interpretation among possible others. The code was not offered as merely about the setting, but was offered within the setting to the researcher and to the staff as a persuasive, consequential scheme of interpretation for operating within the setting. In light of what the code consists (i.e., that it was an open-ended collection of embedded instructions whose recognition and employment depended upon an active search for structure), the persuasiveness of 'telling the code' and the consequentiality of 'telling the code' cannot refer to anything more definite than a persuasive promise that structure and relative definite sense will be found and a threatening insistence that the hearer must strive to discover that relative definite sense which includes the code's consequentiality.


The fact that social

accounts are open-ended collections of a reconsideration of their per

embedded instructions forces

suasive and consequential character. Before assessing the status of that argument, let us review briefly some of its steps. It was proposed that a setting becomes constituted for a new party through the common interactive efforts of all active participants



in the setting. Thus, the setting becomes known and experienced as a coherent, meaningful round of activities by the work of 'old hands' and novices. The persuasive talk of 'old hands' becomes embedded instruction for the novice, which he uses as a scheme of interpretation in his active, interpretive search for structure and meaning. A resident's 'telling the code' about his own behavior, when understood as embedded instruction, had the effect of making his conduct appear as motivated by an enforceable, impersonal (in the sense of 'not his choice') order. An effective 'telling of the code' accomplished this relative specification of the appearance of his conduct irrespective of what the resident thought he was 'really doing'. Occasions for 'teillng the code' most frequently occurred when accounts which justified something were 'requested'. Since meeting the demand for justification could have been the single goal of 'telling the code' in every particular case in which it was told, there is no way of ascertaining whether or not the code spoke to the 'actual' motives of the residents. For example, for whatever 'reason' a particular resident did not want to go to my office at the time I invited him, telling me that he could not be friends with me was an effective way of cutting off my invitation. Or, for whatever reason a resident did not want to organize the baseball team, telling the staff, 'You know I can't organize the baseball team', was an effective way of refusing without getting into trouble. Furthermore, I see no cogent grounds for supposing that such residents even explicitly knew that they had a specific 'reason' for refusing. They may well have vaguely sensed that the prospect of talking or organizing would not be an inviting thing to do. In such cases, 'telling the code' could serve to manage the request. The important consequentiality of 'telling the code' coupled with its flexible and open structure (i.e., its capacity to explain a very wide range of events and the fact that it did not consist of a fixed set of maxims, nor did any given maxim have a definite scope of application) means, at the least, that the residents were in a position to manipulate my understanding and staff's under standing of the code, and it was in their interest to do so. Given



the open, flexible structure of 'telling the code', there is no way of knowing whether or not any particular utterance which came to be identified as 'telling the code' was an ad hoc, free invention of a maxim (or an application of a maxim) that was developed by the resident in his attempt to manage his circumstances with me, with the staff, and even with his fellow residents. Given this open, flexible structure, even the resident himself could not be certain about the extent to which his account qn any particular occasion was invented to promote his own interests in that situation. Now in Chapter Six, it was suggested that, given the uses of instances of 'telling the code' in my (and staff's) developing scheme of interpretation for understanding any particular present and succeeding incidents (and for reinterpreting prior incidents), if each (or even any) particular instance of 'telling the code' were developed as a more or less deliberate, self-serving method of moral justification, then what the scene

in general appeared to be

was continuously contingent upon the particular goals and projects of participants in successive interactional occasions. Moreover, such an argument would apply to all talk which becomes employed in a scheme of interpretation in any scene. In brief, actors delib erately or inadvertently manipulate each other's general and continuous perceptions of the scene in their attempt to manage specific interactions. In developing a 'good case' for the speaker in the present (or f or some presently entertained project), the potential consequences for the future perceptions of the hearer extend well beyond the interests encompassed by the speaker's present project. For example, in the interest of avoiding going to a bar with a parole agent, what a resident says to the agent to excuse himself may effect the way the agent sees many features of resident life in general. While some of the arguments proposed earlier in this chapter might now require us to say that a resident could never know just what impact his 'telling the code' had on the perceptual world of the staff and researcher,11 the possibility
11 That is, in light of the character of 'embedded instructions', the kind of impact persuasion can have is unknowable to the speaker. While it is

the case that members, for example residents and staff, can manipulate the



remains that a 'theory of interests ' might serve as a strong substantive replacement for the traditional 'theory of the convict code'. Let us, then, consider such a possibility.

A 'theory of interests' would be argued in the following way.

The facts that the accounting work of 'telling the code' defined the immediate environment of hearer and teller, that it was inter actionally consequential in that environment, and that it had an open, flexible structure invited its manipulation by the teller.
character of each other's perceptual world by what they say - that they can guide and instruct each other's perception of the social world in which they both live - they cannot quite know what impact that embedded instruction will have on the other's perceptual world, for what the embedded instruction means depends on just what scheme of interpretation the other has developed up to that point in time and the specific events he has witnessed. The present embedded instruction obtains its relative specific sense in its juxtaposition with events the hearer has previously witnessed such that this present talk and those prior witnessed events mutually fulfill and determine one another. Since the speaker cannot know specifically what the other has witnessed, he cannot know precisely what the other understands on the basis of what he (the speaker) says. In a rather different context, Garfinkel and Sacks (1970: 344) have argued that "speakers mean . . . differently than they can say in just so many words . . . ". In the terms of the argument just developed here, it would appear that speakers mean differently than they can know. While it might now appear to us that a 'teller of the code' cannot know what he means by what he says - in the sense that he cannot know what a listener will hear as meant - and hence, he may not, in fact, be effective in pursuing his interests by 'telling the code', this state of affairs does not prevent us from arguing that this, nevertheless, is precisely what persons are attempting t9 do by 'telling the code'. After all, one could say that the suppositions that everyone employs within everyday life require that we treat what we say as understandable by others in approximately the same way that we meant it, and that we understand what the other said in approximately the same way that they meant it. Garfinkel (1967 : 24-31 , 38-65) has found that (except for particular instances of doubt which could occur at any time, but never globally) persons not only take it for granted that these suppositions are viable, but, also, in actual conversations, they are insistent that they under stand and are understandable, i.e., the suppositions are sanctionable.

It could be argued, then, that even though staff and researcher's under standing of the code differed from the way in which it was understood by residents, the open, flexible structure of 'telling the code' invited residents
to attempt to pursue their own interests by fabricating accounts which deceived me and the staff. However, as will be apparent in the argument which follows, no amount of 'fixing' or qualification can make any specific 'theory of interests' stronger than the 'theory of the convict code' which it might replace.



He could, after all, pursue his immediate interests in the inter action by freely inventing a clause to, or a particular interpretation

of, the code in a specific 'telling' . 'Telling the code' masked what
was 'really going on' at the halfway house - what was 'really going on' was residents' pursuing their immediate interests by fabricating instances of 'telling the code' which deceived me and the staff. While the 'theory of interests' may be appealing in its potential for debunking sociological theory, methods, and findings, any specific 'theory of interests' cannot be stronger than the 'theory of the convict code '. For, as I shall now argue, any attempt to specify interests is subject to the same equivocalities as specifying the maxims (or a maxim) of the code and would be accompJished through the same formal apparatus as employed in specifying the convict code. The crucial point is that while the 'open, flexible structure of the code' permits the possibility that in any particular case, the staff (or an observer) could have been manipulatively taken in by a 'false' statement of the code, 'interests' have an open, flexible structure as well. This means that in every particular case of 'telling the code', some assertion specifying the under lying 'interests ' or underlying maxim of the code could be discovered - limited only by the inventiveness of the observer. Just as it is so that in every particular case of 'telling the code' it can be shown that 'te1ling the code'

in one way or another

advances a resident's interests, it can be shown as well that he was merely speaking consistently with what had been said by others about the code 'thus far'. These stubborn equivocalities do not arise from the substance of 'interests' or the 'maxims of the code'. We encounter them, rather, by reason of our methods of understanding talk and action, i.e., by reason of the character of our use of embedded instructions (or any other scheme of interpretation employed within the documentary method of interpretation). The way in which we see that someone is acting or speaking consistently with the code has many formal properties in common with the way in which we see that someone is acting or speaking consistently with his



interests. Let us consider the ways i n which interests would be specified. I have proposed, for example, that by alluding to the prohibition against snitching, a resident could change the topic of a conversation with staff without appearing devious. By de scribing the resident's action in this way, I make it appear that wanting to change the topic of a conversation without getting into trouble motivated the resident to say what he said. That kind of analysis is accomplished by use of the same devices that are used in giving code-explanations. In this case, all that is required is the modification of the following device : a behavior may be posited as related to an intended outcome by using the developing sense of a code for selecting one outcome of an act f rom its many outcomes and, hence, specifying the meaning of the act. By simply replacing 'developing sense of the code' with 'overt interactional consequences which fit together with any previously observed interactional consequences', one has a method of depicting the interests which 'stand behind' each formulation of the code. As in the cae of the interpretation of the intended consequences of action taken in compliance with the code, inter ac onal consequences can be observed as 'fitting together' by interpreting them in the light of some resident comment. For example, the resident statement, 'The program is pointless and a bore', can serve as an embedded instruction for seeing resident conduct as an effort to avoid participation in the program, rather than as an expression of 'disinterest and disrespect' which shows his loyalty to other residents. Any explicit, i.e., codified, 'theory of interests' generated either within or outside the setting could serve the same interpretive functions. In its use as a scheme of interpretation, such a theory would have the same properties. It would be employed to identif y instances of some type of conduct and to connect one form of conduct to another, and in that use, its own meaning would be fulfilled, modified, and elaborated as well. Thus, analyzing action by reference to 'interests' is formaVy identical to an analysis which is accomplished by reference to 'telling the code'. The character and adequacy of explanations having this form is the




topic of the next chapter. Though the argument there concerns verbalized moral orders such as the convict code, a vision of social reality like that entailed in the 'theory of interests' is subject to all the same considerations as soon as someone conceives of and verbalizes it. Choosing between the two theories finally becomes a matter of preference, for, as we shall see, a strong, empirically based choice between them is, in principle, unavailable, even though each is 'demonstrable-for-all-practical-purposes'.


We have considered the convict code in the halfway house in two different ways. In Part I, it was treated in a very nearly conventional sociological manner. Then in Part II, we have examined the actual interactional uses of talk involving the code in more minute detail from an ethnomethodological perspective. In this second treatment, we found that the code exhibited certain features that raised important issues for the conventional sociological approach : first, the code was not merely a narrative about the setting, but rather talk of the code was consequential within the setting in which it occurred ; second, the formulations of the code and the events in the setting it referred to were mutually determinative in their sense, rather than the code 's being an objective description of those events. Pn this chapter, we consider in more detail some of the implications of these findings for the study of social inter action. The conceptual apparatus that sociology employs in approaching the explanation of human action has been recently formalized by Wilson ( 1970b) in his formulation of the "normative paradigm". He observed that the assumption that social interaction (and social action) is rule-governed is central to most sociological explanations of patterned conduct. In his terms, a rule is a stable
1 An early version of this chapter served as the basis for a paper that I co authored with Don H. Zimmerman, .entitled "The Competent Recognition of Social Action", which was delivered to the 1 971 meetings of the American Sociological Association. In turn, this chapter is based and draws heavily upon the ideas and language of that paper. I would like to specifically acknow ledge Professor Zimmerman's contribution to this chapter.



linkage between a situation on the one hand and an action on the other. Since sociologists are not concerned with unique situations and actions per se, the terms 'situation' and 'action' refer to classes in terms of which particular instances of each may be classified. In set theoretic terms, we may think of the well-defined class S (a situation) which classifies and treats as equivalent an array of concrete occasions distributed in time and space, and, mutatis mutandi, the class A (an action) which classifies concrete behaviors similarly distributed. The linkage of S and A (the rule) may be in the form of dispositions (e.g., attitudes, motives, etc.) or expectations, principally role expectations. Thus, one might theorize that a particular kind of actor, upon encountering an occasion which he perceives as an instance of S is disposed (mo tivated), or is expected under pain of sanction, to enact a behavior which is an instance of A. Obviously norms, values, etc. are definable within this framework. An action, in these terms, is a response by an actor to a situation. The features selected by the theorist (by whatever method) to define S are the perceptual criteria required by the theorist's model of the actor and the theorist to discriminate among occasions. The definition of A similarly equips the actor to recognize the appropriateness of behaviors on given occasions, his own or others ', and furnishes the same resource to the theorist and his colleagues. Within such a framework, a rule assumes the status of an instruction to the theorist's actor to (1) attend his environment in order to detect the occurrence of specified situations and, upon encountering them, to (2) enact a prescribed behavior, i.e., it links S with A. The theorist's rule is an objective repre sentation of the actor's ground of conduct, i.e., his 'reason' for behaving as he does or, in other words, the meaning of his conduct. In actual practice, the theorist would either demonstrate or assume (1) a source of socialization whereby the actual actor as the subject of his theory acquired the requisite dispositions or learned the relevant expectations or that he does, in fact, 'possess' them and (2) the conditions under which the actor will comply with the rule.



The logical requirements imposed by this scheme are of particular interest: (1) The class S and the class A must be de fined independently o each other. That is, the identification of an occasion as an f instance of S must not depend in principle upon the identification of behavior on that occasion as an instance of class A and conversely. It must be possible for the predicted action not to occur, and obviously the post hoc classification of the situation, given the action, is inadmissable. (2) S and A must be literally described. For a rule to function as a term in a deductive theory (in other than a metaphorical sense), the classes S and A must be defined in terms of explicit features that are, in the logical sense, sufficient conditions for classifying occasions or behaviors as members of the respecth:,e classes. In Wilson's terms (1970b : 72), the identified features must be "demonstrably recognizable by any competent member ofthe relevant scientific community independently of. . . other members". Moreover, the correct identification of such features must warrant classification independentlY" of other features, co-present, sub sequently observed, or reconstructed. If the defining features are not explicitly stated, if their recognition is a matter for negotiation, and if the classification is altered by context, or by the additional features present over the developing course of a situation or an action, the sense in which disparate instances of occasions and behaviors are appearances of the same situations and actions becomes problematic. However, an examination of how observation actually takes place shows neither 'independence between situations and actions' nor 'literal description of situations and actions'. Instead, the very process or competent observation requires that the observer actively constitute his objects of observation out of the reflexive and indexical features of his research setting. Rather than inde pendence, we find active-constitutive dependence after the fashion of 'pieces' of a gestalt-contexture in their mutual determination of one another's sense. Rather than literal classification of elements of a set, we find a contextuaJIy based interpretation of what



Garfinkel has called indexical particulars. To give these remarks some substance, let us reexamine some of my work on observation and accounting. In the halfway house, I observed a recurrent collection of situa tions, an ensemble of rules, and an accompanying ensemble of actions which appeared to be proper candidates f or explanation within the normative paradigm. The relationships between residents and staff in the halfway house revealed an organization having many of the features portrayed in previous studies of prisons. The situation aspect of the generalized formulation, situation-rule-action, consisted of those general organizational forms such as the rules, routines, organizational goals (e.g., rehabilitation), and staff's duties (especially the control of resident conduct), as described in Chapter Two, and also included concrete staff action preceding some resident action in question as all of these matters are defined from the standpoint of the resident. The behavior of residents of halfway hQuse parallels the behavior of inmates reported by other researchers in a number of respects. In Chapter Three, we saw that like the actions of prison inmates, the behaviors of residents appeared to be directed against the stated aims of the organization. The staff, like the staff of prisons, recognized the behavior of their charges as deviant and treated it as a matter of chronic concern. Moreover, residents had a code of proper conduct which was indistinguishable from the 'convict code' that has been reported in the classical prison studies. In the terms of a traditional ethnographic description and analysis (as in Chapter Four), the code operates as a potent organizing device for interactions between residents and staff and explains the various patterns of resident behavior. These, then, are the elements of a typical sociological explanation of a pattern of action, and the specific findings are congruent with the traditional studies of inmate organization. However, as we saw in Chapter Five, this explanation of conduct in the halfway house was not confined to the researcher. Instead, residents and staff also employed these same explanations in their daily inter-



actions, using them both to say why a given event happened the way it did and to justify their own courses of action. Further, it is clear that the explanations employed by residents and staff dis pJayed the basic features of the normative paradigm. Thus, normative explanations appear to be not only the common form of professional sociological explanations, but also to be the sort of explanation that individuals in 'real' social interaction use to make sense of and to justify events in their social world. This suggests that an examination of the way in which normative explanations of conduct are developed is of interest, not only for its bearing on the logical status of such explanations, but also for its potential for clarifying the nature of moral codes as phenomena. Our question, then, is, 'How are normative explanations ac co mplished ?' In the halfway house, we saw that those features of the setting which furnished the basis for describing a set of rules (the convict code), and which made it usable for analyzing situations and patterns of action in the setting, were features that were made available through interactions between members of the halfway house. In conversations (described in Chapter Five) which occurred between residents and staff, between residents and researcher, and between staff and researcher, the various parties, in effect, instructed one another on how to 'see' the behavior of residents by citing the relevance of the convict code to any resident's circumstances and by noting the ways that the behavior under question was motivated by it. By naming, explaining, justifying, and even requesting to do an act, residents taught both staff and researcher how to see the sense of residents' circumstances and residents' conduct 'f rom the standpoint of the resident'. The formal structure and social-fact properties of the convict code and the behavior it 'explained' - the formal structure prop erties of uniformity, reproducibility, repetitiveness, standardization, typicality, and the property of being independent of particular production cohorts, and the social-fact property of normative requirement - are available for analysis as 'practical, ongoing achievements', in the sense meant by Garfinkel and Sacks ( 1 970 : 346), because of what residents taught by 'telling the code ' .



Residents not only showed that they recognized these formal structure and social-fact properties, but also showed me and staff that the code and their actions had these properties. Through inter actions with me and staff, residents made it happen that their activity would be seen as regular, repetitive, uniform, standardized, independent of their particular doing, and done as a matter of normative requirement. In particular, residents used what staff and researcher understood as portions of the code and its language to show the rational and reasonable character of their conduct and the conduct of their fellows. In the ways that residents portrayed their conduct as goal-directed, chosen because it provided the least unpleasant consequences, and required by others, they also thereby pointed to the particular action in question as an 'instance' of a pattern. In presenting the grounds of moral requiredness by their peers, residents provided staff and researcher with the understanding that conduct of the sort being discussed would have been done by any resident, and that one could find similar kinds of action that had been seen before and would be seen again and which would be motivated in an identical fashion. Thus, the fact that the conduct of residents had an orderly, coherent appearance was the ongoing, practical accompJishment of residents who interactionally provided staff and researcher with 'embedded instructions' for seeing the environment of the halfway house from 'the standpoint of the residents' by 'telling the code'. However, as was seen in Chapter Seven, taking 'the standpoint of the residents' required much more than merely repeating what one heard. The code was available in only occasionally identified bits and pieces, e.g., it might be visible in the phrase, 'You know I can 't do that. ' Hearing resident talk as 'telling the code' required that the listener have some initial idea of a code in the first place. To be heard as a possible statement of a rule, the specific utterance had to be interpreted in light of whatever understanding of the code the listener had assembled up to that point. The specific sense of the utterance was found by hearing it as juxtaposed with (remembered) behaviors which that talk would motivate if it were, in fact, a statement of a rule for doing those behaviors.



Of course, talk could become heard as a rule retrospectively, when some behaviors occurred that made previously heard talk now understandable as a rule. In these same attempts at establishing the sense of talk as possible rules, the behavior that is observed and has been observed acquires its specific sense as an instance of some repetitive pattern, i.e., it acquires its specific sense as a matter of socially arguable fact. In this juxtaposition, behavior and talk become transformed into conduct and rules. The selfsame perceptual-analytic procedure simultaneously elaborated the set of rules (the code) and objects and actions in the setting as it was employed as a scheme of interpretation. The self same procedure rendered occasions and behaviors sensible and definite, i.e., it made them specifically classified instances of a general and recurring situation and a type of action; Seeing that some occasion would, in terms of the code, motivate certain unspecified, but none the less expectable, behavior instructs the observer (staff or researcher) to analyze subsequent behavior as a response to that occasion. Similarly, seeing that some behavior is analyzable by the code instructs the observer to 'discover' or 'recover' the antecedent occasion which motivated it. The juxta position of occasions, behaviors, and the code provides for the sense of each of them by ref erence to the other in the fashion of the mutual determination of aspects of a gestalt-contexture. Thus, the independence of S and

is questionable not by the necessities of

theory or definition, but as a finding concerning their character as interpersonally accountable objects. Inasmuch as the scheme of interpretation was, on each occasion of its use, self-elaborative while elaborative of objects in the setting, it is much more appro priate to think of the code or any other moral order as a continuous ongoing process, rather than as a set of stable elements of culture which endure through time. This means that every formulation of the code is another instance of it, rather than an overriding description of it. Seeing and describing the behaviors of residents as coherently and more or less stably motivated requires the work of actively interpreting the pieces of talk and action that one hears and sees.



In so doing, an observer constitutes the well organized character of the setting for his report and action. In using the code as an underlying motivational scheme to assign similar or identical meanings to diverse events, the residents, staff, and researcher explicitly, though only occasionally, provided social-fact properties (or properties of a normative order) in their accounts. Most important of these properties for the present argument is the precedented character of any action when analyzed in this fashion. This means that employing a fragment of the code to describe or point to a behavior not only identifies the behavior as an instance of a class of actions, but. that the act of identification also portrays itself as not ad hoc by naming the identified action as 'something we have seen before', even though the observable behavior may have just appeared 'for the first time'. It is in this fashion that the ideal of 'literal description' is managed by any researcher by collaborating with his informants, i.e., he arrives at a literal-for-all-practical-purposes description negotiated among the parties concerned. This process is identical to the use of the 'etcetera property' of rules as described by ethnomethodologists (see footnote two, Chapter Six). As a sanctioned method of interpretation, the code differs from a 'scientific' explanation of actual patterns of resident conduct in several important respects. Its employment simultaneously identifies and 'explains' the particular events it renders observable. In using the code as an explanation, parties to the setting inter actionally identif the sense of a particular event as an inter y subjectively recognized occurrence by effectively asserting that the event stems from adherence to the convict code. The particular occurrence has its sense as part of a pattern, because it can be explained as stemming from constantly operating motivational sources. The code, and by extension any other normative order, cannot be an adequate explanation of patterns of action under the requirements of a deductive theory, because in its explanatory uses, situations, actions, and rules are not independent elements. The utterances and behaviors upon which the code (or any other



normative order) are based have no self-evident or self-explanatory sense in isolation from one another. Instead, they have a relative definite sense as constituent parts of an actually witnessed, concrete setting in the way that each is a constituent within a system of functional significances. That is, situations, actions, and ru1es determine one another's sense as constituent parts of a gestalt-contexture. Also in this connection, situations, actions, and rules cannot be literally described, because the clear sense that each achieves in its contexture is contingent upon the concrete, historical, and ongoing course of experience of some particular observer. Part of the contexture of any present display is located within the accumulated prior experience of the observer and is known by him in a largely implicit and indefinite fashion. This fact would undercut any effort to definitively specify the explicit features that are sufficient conditions for classifying occasions or behaviors as members of the classes of situations and actions. Thus, the requirement of literal description for deductive theory cannot be met. With respect to descriptions of the convict code and the behaviors it 'explains', every maxim and every list of maxims, as well as every 'explained' behavior and every list of 'explained' behaviors, are offered as illustrative of the kinds of maxims and kinds of behaviors that the code explains.2 What sociologists describe as the convict code in their writings is one further instance of the product which results from the practices of 'telling the code'. Such accounts have the same logical status that 'telling the code' has in the very settings in which the code is told. Further, to the extent that social scientists' accounts are read and treated as a source of advice or justification by persons in those settings, their accounts have the same phenomenal status as well. 3
2 The code, thus, has the features that Garfinkel has elaborated at length in his unpublished discussions of "a collection of instructions" and their properties, P, and that Zimmerman and PolIner (1970: 93-99) describe as an "occasioned corpus". 3 It seems likely that many sociologists' accounts of prison culture and the convict code have, in fact, been read in this way. It is clear that Clemmer's The Prison Community has been. Gill (1965), writing as a prison administrator,



Thus, 'telling the code', and any particular instance of for mulating the code,

exhibits, rather than describes or explains,

the order that members achieve through their practices of showing and telling each other that particular encountered features are typical, regular, orderly, coherent, motivated out of considerations of normative constraint, and the like. The problems encountered in describing and explaining social action hinge in part on the notion that on the one hand there is an event in the world, a social action, and on the other, another event which is the description of that action and the method of pro ducing that description. This dualism - which is an instance of the subject-object dualism - generates the issue of the veridicality of the description and, in the context of science, the necessity of literal description. The abandonment of the dualism leads to the single phenomenon, an account-of-social-action, or an accounting-of-social-action. 'Telling the code' , and more critically the work of 'telling the code', is in this view a course of accounting which yields an account-of-resident-behavior which, on the occasion of con structing the account, makes that occasion, the behaviors in it, and the normative order 'behind it' observable and reportable as patterned, recurrent, and connected instances of motivated actions in socially standardized situations. Accountings-of-social-action, e.g., 'telling and hearing the code', are methods of giving and receiving embedded instructions for seeing and describing a social order. The interpersonal existence of social orders and their availability to perception and description is the achievement of the various methods entailed in an ac counting-of-social-action.

cites Clemmer as providing a cogent formuletion of what prison life is really like and employs that formulation to argue with his colleagues for changes in prison organization which might alter that way of life.


Barnes, Harry E., and N. K. Teeters 1959 New H orizons in Criminology, Third Edition (Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey). Berk, Bernard 1966 "Organizational Goals and Inmate Organization", American Journal 0/ Sociology LXXI, 522-534. Bittner, Egon 1963 "Radicalism and the Organization of Radical Movements", American Sociological Review 28, 928-940.
Blumer, Herbert 1 962 "Society as Symbolic Interaction", Human Behavior and Social

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Accounts (Accounting), See Formu lating. Ad hoc Panel on Drug Abuse, 49. Adequate Causal Analysis, See Cor rect Causal Interpretation of Action. Asch, Ellis, 125. Attitude of Everyday Life, 30. Barnes, Harry E., 46. Berk, Bernard, 121. Bittner, Egon, 173-74 fn. Blumer, Herbert, 32 fn., 33. Burke, Kenneth, 130. Burkhart, Walter R., 49 rn. Caldwell, Morris G., 120. Casriel, Daniel, 48. Chomsky, Noam, 21 fn. Cicourel, Aaron V., 17 fn., 21 fn., 22, 201-02 fn. Clemmer, Donald, 121-22, 130, 22324 fn. Cloward, Richard A., 38-39, 120, 125. Cohen, Albert C., 38-39. Cohort Independence, (see also Trans personality), 36, 40, 42, 207, 219-20. Collection of Instructions, 223 fn. Constitution (Constitutive Features), 74, 199, 203, 208, 217, 222. Constructs of the Second Degree, See Second Order Constructs. Contra Culture, See Contra-Norma tive Culture.

Contra-Normative Culture or Order (Contra Culture, Deviant Subcul ture, Oppositional Subculture), 1516, 38-39, 74, 1 13, 120-25, 133. Correct Causal Interpretation of Action (Adequate Causal Analy sis), (see olso Explanation), 33-34, 36, 142, 1 54, 206. Cressey, Donald R., 38-39, 125. Davidson, Adele K., 48-49. Definition of the Situation, 32, 34, 132, 149-50, 1 54-55, 211. Deviant Subculture, See Contra Normative Culture. Documentary Method of Interpre tation, 1 84-86, 189, 192 fn., 205, 212. Doing Demands and Requests, 92-93, 1 1 1 , 193. Doing Disinterest and Disrespect, 83-88, 1 1 1 , 193-95, 197-98, 213. Doing Distance, 73, 76-83, 1 11, 193. Doing Unreliability as Informants, 93-96, 1 1 1 . Doing Violations, 96-111, 195. Durkheim, Emile, 30-31, 33-36, 131, 137, 142, ISS, 157.
East Los Angeles Halfway House

[papers], 59-60. Embedded Instructions, 25-26, 44, 1 89-90, 198-209, 198-99 fn., 210 fn., 212-13, 219-20, 224.



Etcetera, (see also Open Flexible Structure), 173, 173 fa., 197, 222. Ethnomethodology, 20-23, 30-31, 3940, 44-45, 129, 1 67, 173 fn., 1 74 f n., 215, 222. Excuse (Excusing), See Justifying. Explanation, (see also Correct Causal Interpretation of Action), and See formulating, 9-26, 29-45, 74, 1 12-13, 1 18-20, 125-26, 131, 142-45, 149, 1 53-60, 162, 165, 170-71, 175, 182, 190-98, 206, 212-13, 215-19, 222-24. Field of Domination, 203-04 fn. Finestone, Harold, 38-39. Fisher, Sethard, 54 fn., 57 fn. Formal Structures, 32, 36-38, 40-41 , 43-45, 146, 219-20. Formulating (Accounts, Accounting, Observing and Reporting, Charac terizing, Observing and Describing), (see also the related Explanation), 10, 18-19, 22-26, 30-31, 40-47, 53, 57 fn., 63-71, 73-74, 88, 92-97, 129-32, 137-38, 143-45, 149, 154, 157, 160, 1 64-68, 172 fn., 1 74-78, 1 80-81, 189-90, 198-201, 203-05, 207-14, 218, 221, 223-24. Free Variation, Method of, 190 fn. Functional Signification (Functional Significance), 188-89, 201-02, 205, 223. Galtung, Johan, 120. Garabedian, Peter, 121, 124. Garfinkel, Harold, 17 fn., 20, 22-23, 25, 30-32, 33 fn., 34 fn., 40, 42-43, 45, 130, 173, 174 fn., 1 84, 186, 190 fn., 192 fn., 198-99 fn., 20102 fn., 203, 210-11 fn., 219, 223 fn. Geis, Gilbert, SO-51, 54 fn., 57 fn. Gestalt Contexture, 186, 1 88-90, 193-94, 196-97, 200-02, 210-1 1 fn., 217, 221, 223. Gill, Howard, 223 f n. Glaser, Daniel, 46.

Goffman, Erving, 6, 83. Grupp, Stanley E., 48. Grusky, Oscar, 12l. Guide to Imagination, 207. Guide to Perception, (see also Embedded Instructions), and See Scheme of Interpretation, 74, 131, 175, 189, 192-94, 203, 210-11 fn. Gurwitsch, Aaron, 188, 199. Handel, Warren, 23 fn. Haynor, Norman S., 125. Hearings of the U.S. Senate, 47 fn., 49. Himmelson, Alf red, S, 58 fn., 133. Hockett, Charles F., 21 f n. Homans, George, 32, fn. HusserI, Edmund, 22, 24, 199. Idealization, 16, 20-24, 201-02 fn. Indexicality (Indexical Expressions, Indexical Features, Indexical Par ticulars). 186-88, 203, 203 fn., 205, 208, 217-18. InkJes, Alex, 32. Inmate Social System, See Contra Normative Culture. Inner Horizon, 199-200, 202-05. Instantiation, (see also Typification), 190-94. Interpretive Procedures, See Mem bers' Methods. Intersubjectivity, Problem of, 201, 201-02 fn. Isbell, Harris, 47 fn. Johnson, Elmer, 125. Jones, Maxwell, 54 fn. Justifying (Justification, Excuse), 10, 149, 157-58, 1 61-62, 171, 174-75, 182, 209-10, 219, 223. Kassbaum, Gene G., 121. Katz, Jerrod, 21 fn. Krasowski, W., 125. Kuhn, Thomas, 9 fn.



Leiter, Kenneth C., 40, 173-74 fn., 192 fn. Mannheim, Karl, 184. Maxims, See Rules. McCay, Henry D., 38. McHugh, Peter, 1 92 fn. McLeery, Richard H., 121, 130. Meiners, Robert, 48. Members' Methods, 204-08. Merleau-Ponty, Maurice, 23. Merton, Robert K., 39. Messinger, Sheldon, 120-21. Miller, Don, 5, 58 fn., 13 3-34. Miller, Walter, 38. Mills, C. Wright, 130. Morris, Charles, 9 fn., 12-13, 13 fn., 14 Fig., 1 5. Natural Language [Account, Event, Vehicle], 17-19, 22, 24-25, 130, 1 67-68. Neiser, Ulric, 23 fn. Normative Order (Moral Order, Nor mative Culture), (see a/so Contra Normative Order), and See Rules, 10-19, 31-34, 37-39, 41, 43-44, 1 1 3, 120-22, 143, 156, 164-65, 209, 214, 222-24. Normative Paradigm, 9, 1 1 -14, 21519. Norms, See Rules. Occasioned Corpus, 186, 223 fn. Oblin, Lloyd H., 8-39, 124-25. Open Flexible Structure [of Rules and Telling Rules], (see also Etcetera, 155, 173-74, 197, 209-12, 210-11 fn. Open Possibilities, 199-200, 202. Parsons, Talcott, 9 fn. , 12, 32, 33 fn. , 3 4 fn. Passive Compliance, 88-92, 1 1 1 , 19395. Pearl, Arthur, 48, 49 fn., 51 -52, 54. Perrow, Charles, 121.

Persuasion (Persuasive Explanation), 10, 44, 1 38, 146, 169-83, 208. Phenomenology, 74, 190, 198-204. Phenomenological Method, 190-98, 190 fn. Plurisituationality,

(see a/so Transitu

ationality), 1 5-19. Pollner, Melvin, 22-23, 29-30, 1 86, 201-02 fn. , 203 fn., 223 fn. President's Advisory Commission on Narcotics and Drug Abuse, 49. Prison Culture, See Contra-Norma tive Culture. Problem of Order, 32-33. Proceedings of Halfway House Semi nar, 56. Program Revision of the Halfway House, 59-61 . Program Statement of the Halfway House, 54. Programmatic Ideals, 47, 62-63, 71, 73, 75, 83, 87-88, 92, 96, 1 1 1 . Progress report on Ad Hoc Panel on Drug Abuse, 49. Reciprocity of Perspectives, 201-02 fn. Reflexivity (Reflexive, Reflexive Fea tures, Reflexive Relationship), 1 7 19, 23, 25, 3 1 , 42, 130, 145-46, 1 64-67, 1 77-78, 1 89-90, 203, 205, 208, 217. Role, 13, 32, 34, 41, 1 23-24, 1 55-56, 1 68, 177, 1 87, 206. Rules (Rule-Governed Action, Max ims, Mores, Norms), 9-30, 32, 34, 37, 39-42, 45, 62, 65-7 1 , 73, 89, 96-97, 1 1 1 , 1 14-18, 120-25, 132, 1 34-35, 1 37-38, 143-44, 1 50, 1 54-57, 159 fn., 161-63, 1 68-73, 173 fn., 180, 184-86, 191-98, 200, 203, 206-07, 209-10, 212, 215-19, 220-21 , 223. Sacks, Harvey, 17 f , 22, 32, 40, 45 , n. 122-24, 124 fn. , 130, 173-74 fn., 186, 190 fn., 210-1 1 fn., 219. Saint Leonard's House Annual Re-

port, 48. Sathmary, Arthur, 49 fn. Scheme of Interpretation,


2 1 1 -14. 1 30-3 1 ,

of Interests,

210-1 1


146, 149, 1 54, 1 84-86, 194-95, 197, 203-04 fn., 204, 208-10, 212-13, 221-22.

Scheme of Interrogation, 101-04. Schragg, Clarence, 120, 125, 130. Schutz, Alfred, 22-23, 29-30, 34 fn., 74 fn., 201-02 fn., 203 fn., 205. Scott, John E., 21 fn. Second Order Constructs (Second Order Phenomena, Constructs of the Second Degree), 22, 29, 3 1 . Self-Conception, 1 22. Sellin, Thorstein, 38. Semiotics (Semiosis), 9, 1 1 , 13-16,
20, 24, 26.

Thomas, W.I., 33. Tittle, Charles R., 121, 125. Tittle, DroUene, 121, 125. Transituationality, 73, 156, 1 61 , 168. Transpersonality, (see also Cohort Independence), 1 5-16, 19, 36, 73,

Tunley, Roul, 48. Turner, Ralph, 32 fn. TYpification, (see also Instantiation),
22, 155, 157, 186, 1 90-94, 1 97, 207, 213.

Vintner, Robert D., 121. Vocabulary of Motives, 130. Ward, David, 121. Weber, Max, 3 1 , 33-34, 33 fn., 36,
96, 142, 1 54, 206.

Shaw, Clifford, 38. Skolnick, Jerome, 101 , 105. Social Facts (Social Fact Features, Social Fact Properties), 30-3 1 ,
34-36, 45, 1 37, 142, 146, 1 55, 157, 165, 207, 21 9-20, 222. Social Reality, 19, 23-25, 1 30-32, 168, 1 77, 183, 186, 208, 210-11 fn., 214, 224.

Weinberg, S. Kirson, 1 20. Weinberg, Stewart, 49-50. Wheeler, Stanton, 121, 130. Wieder, D.L., 22-23, 32, 33 fn., 40,
58 fn., 70, 100 fn., 1 49 fn., 17374 fn., 215. Williams, Robin, 32.

Social Types, 1 14, 120, 122-24. Special Study Commission on Narcotics, 49. Spiegelberg, Herbert, 190 fn. Sternberg, David, 48. Street, David, 121. Studt, Eliot, 121. Sutherland, Edwin H., 38-39. Sykes, Gresham, 120, 122-24. Tarski, Alfred, 25. Teeters, N.K., 46.

Wilmer, Harry A., 125. Wilson, T.P., 9 fn., 1 1 , 11 Fig., 1 2 fn., 13, 1 3 fn., 14, 14 Fig., 19, 22, 37 fn.,
121, 215.

Winick, Charles, 49. Wrong, Dennis, 32 fn. Yablonsky, Lewis, 48. Zimmerman, Don H., 22-23, 29-30, 32, 33 fD., 40, 173-74 fn., 186, 215 fn. , 223 fn.