Re: Ethnomethodology

James G. Carrier (jgc5p@UVA.PCMAIL.VIRGINIA.EDU)
Fri, 11 Feb 1994 19:18:07 EST

Gregory Finnegan's bibliographic help (always nice to have) on
ethnomethodology does omit (perhaps necessarily) works in which
ethnomethodology got worked into anthropology without getting worked into the
title or subject headings.
In Pacific ethnography, one of the crucial works was Harold Scheffler's
_Choiseul Island Social Structure_ (U Cal P, 1965). The work is important
because Scheffler attempted to replace the old anthropological conception of
the group which was based on Maine's notion of the corporation (via Fortes).
For it, he substituted Goffman (by name and by quotation), who said the group
is a set of people who think they are a group.
Scheffler's work is important, at least in Melanesian ethnography, as an
important element of the attack on lineage models. This attack led ultimately
to a dissolution of the link between biology and agnation, and obliged us all
to put words like _patrilineal_ in quotation marks for a few years. One might
argue that the `lineal' descendant of Scheffler is Marilyn Strathern.
Unlike Strathern, Scheffler subsequently recanted his extreme
anti-structuralist and anti-realist approach to things like descent groups
(AA 88 [1986]: 339-350).


James G. Carrier

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