Ethnomethodology: Core Principles, Concepts, Views

1 Definition

Ethnomethodology is "the study of common social knowledge, in particular as it concerns the understanding of others and the varieties of circumstance in which it can take place." -- Simon Blackburn, The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, p. 126.

2 Orientation

"When a great many people agree that a problem is insignificant, that usually means it is not. Insignificance is the locus of true significance." -- Roland Barthes, The Grain of the Voice, p. 177.

"The social, conformist world always bases its idea of nature on the fact that things resemble each other, and the resulting idea of nature is both artificial and repressive: the 'natural.' Common sense always considers things that resemble each other 'natural.'" The essays in Mythologies "present themselves as a denunciation of 'what goes without saying.'" -- Roland Barthes, The Grain of the Voice, p. 208.

3 Constructing Reality through Conversation

M. Heller (1988: 14): "Ethnomethodological approaches have focused on the ways in which recurring patterns of language themselves provide a contextual framework in which to situate the significance of variable verbal behavior. These approaches have as their goal precisely the understanding of the significance of behavior from 'the members' point of view', and take the position that patterns of language use are strategies for the social construction of reality. ... The central question remains of the way in which codeswitching enables speakers to define both conversational reality (organize information, highlight new or important information, etc.) and social reality (to define one's social role through the definition of one's conversational role, and through situating oneself with respect to the conversational resources currently available, that is, by accepting or rejecting the sets of language choice conventions that are available."


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