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5. Harold Garfinkel

Anne Rawls

Subject Sociology » Sociological and Social Theory

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405105958.2003.00008.x


Since the publication of Studies in Ethnomethodology in 1967 , Harold Garfinkel has come to be known as the “father” of “ethnomethodology.” Garfinkel's theory and corresponding research program have had a widespread influence in the United States, Canada, the UK, Europe, Australia, and Japan. However, despite its acknowledged influence, there remains considerable debate and misunderstanding about what Garfinkel actually meant by ethnomethodology. For instance, ethnomethodology has often mistakenly been associated with a focus on the individual; Garfinkel is thought to be concerned with the values and beliefs of individual social participants. Another widespread misunderstanding is that Garfinkel's research consists primarily of “breaching experiments” in which persons violate social expectations in order to demonstrate the existence of underlying rules governing social behavior. Others have associated ethnomethodology with a sort of social indeterminacy similar to Baudrillard's postmodernism. Ethnomethodology, however, is not a single research program, nor does it focus on a single social phenomena, whether individual or collective. Ethnomethodology, as elaborated by Garfinkel, involves a complete theoretical reconceptualization of social order and a corresponding multifaceted research program. The word “ethnomethodology” itself represents a very simple idea. If one assumes, as ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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