Re[2]: ethnomethodology

Stan Yoder (rpsy@ASC.UPENN.EDU)
Wed, 16 Feb 1994 10:05:17 EDT

that simply are not associated. Ethnomethodology has always been a part of
sociology, not anthropology. Garfinkel was a student of Talcott Parsons. He drew
heavily on Schutz and other phenomenologists in his critique of empiricist
sociology, but this did not make an anthropologist out of him. Leading
proponents of ethnomethodology in Britain such as Wes Sharrock and DC
Anderson do not consider themselves as anthropologists. They are highly critical
of ethnographers who, they say, assume cultural differences rather than
demonstrate them.
Disciplinary boundaries aside (where they should be), ethnomethodologists
have generally examined micro-contexts in Western societies in order to discover
the implicit knowledge that members rely on to accomplish everyday tasks. They
make problematic the nature of commonsense reality. They view with suspicion
emic explanations of actions which may disguise as much as they reveal,
explanations which were once the hallmark of realist ethnographies. In that they
are joined by some recent ethnographers as well. And some ethnomethodologists
do research that is close to what anthropologists do. For example, according to
R. Emerson and M. Pollner, an ethnography "seeks to describe the social and
cultural worlds of a particular group [in ways that] are sensitive to the
interpretations recognized and acted on by members of that group." Though both
are sociologists, they sound very much like anthropologists.
The issue that might be of interest to some is not really the boundaries
of disciplines, but rather to what extent the nature of the research questions
asked and the kind of information considered relevant in answering those
questions within ethnomethodology resemble what occurs in anthropology.

Stan Yoder