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RE: [xmca] Ethnomethodology

I don't know, we keep renaming and redefining things.  I'm not sure either Strauss or Glaser would consider themselves indebted to hermeneutics or the European brand of phenomenology.  They developed the ideas behind grounded theory to deal with specific methodological issues.  I don't know if the computer programs that have been developed to determine categories is helpful or has actually hurt what Strauss and Glaser were trying to do.  Anyway, perhaps it is worthwhile to keep their original ideas of combining empiricism with indeterminate or ongoing interpretation is mind.  Maybe also there are some interesting connections between grounded theory and the discussions on action research that was being discussed on this list a few weeks because they have some of the same origins (at least I think that they do).  It is interesting I think that Garfinkel may be both different from ground theory (at least as developed by Strauss and Glaser) in some respects (is emphasis place on phenomenon or interpretation) and the same on others (the claim that there actually are no ongoing social hierarchies.

From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu on behalf of Jay Lemke
Sent: Sat 3/14/2009 12:08 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Ethnomethodology

Backing up a bit in this thread, to the connection with coding and 
categorization, I just wanted to say that Martin's description below 
is indeed one way that some researchers do a kind of 'grounded theory' 
analysis, reducing the primary data to categories, relations among 
categories, frequencies of items in the categories, etc. I certainly 
try to steer research students away from such an approach, and I don't 
think that the grounded theory tradition originally envisioned this. 
It was more hermeneutic, as one can see preserved a bit in the German-
developed qual analysis software Atlas.ti . As such this style of qual 
analysis seeks an on-going refinement of categories by a back-and-
forth, perhaps even a dialectic, with the primary data. So it is a 
procedure to facilitate this cycling, from interpretation of data in 
its own terms (a bit more EM), through interpretation in relation to 
the categories-so-far, to revision of the category system, to re-
interpretation in relation to the new category system, rubbing up 
against the original text data, etc. etc.

I think that in some ways this hermeneutic helps to bridge between EM 
and FA, without becoming quite so embroiled in the politics of who-
trumps-whom. Michael Roth, and some of the California EM people have 
argued by asymmetry for EM to be in a way "meta" to FA. And there is 
an interesting truth in that, which I find most congenially in 
Latour's version, though it is common to most so-called "practice 
theories": that the primary work of making meaning through action 
(including discourse and representational/mediational practices) in 
some sense underlies the construction and use of all abstracted 
categories in FA. But despite the sometimes painful contortions of 
language that EM forces itself to, you just can't do the work of 
meaning making without already having and using a lot of higher-order 
categorical or category-like abstractions. Semiosis is based on 
linking or contextualizing, putting A in relation to B (by way of C, 
pace Peirce) and it jumps or slides along the cline from concrete to 
abstract and back again as we make meaning.

I am happy to agree that the analysis of practice ought to always be 
part of the More whenever any FA is done, and to criticize when that 
does not happen, and especially when its absence leads to uncritical 
reifications or missed alternative interpretations and insights. But I 
don't think the metaphors that describe FA as built on the foundations 
of EM or practices, or as being a meta-analytic methodology that 
subsumes all possible FAs, are quite so helpful. What we have here is 
not unlike the old debates about macro-social forces or structures vs. 
micro-social practices and actions. EM takes the high ground when it 
argues about "methodology", because clearly all doing-science is also 
just plain doing. But EM also poses to some extent, heartily denied 
all round, as a theory of social action and meaningful social doings. 
Theories are not just descriptions or explanations, they are also 
paradigms of what matters and how to make sense of them. Theories and 
methodologies are as entwined as ends and means; they come in pairs, 
inseparable and pretty much meaningless if disconnected -- or perhaps 
I should say they mean different things when differently paired. If 
you've ever taught a course on pure method, you probably know this. We 
may call it the same method, but it does not work the same way or mean 
the same thing outside of some paradigm-connection to a theory.

So, no master theories, and no master methods. A hermeneutic spiral 
staircase of mutually supporting and mutually subverting category-
mediated and practice-focused modes of analysis. I think. For now. ;-)


Jay Lemke
Educational Studies
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

On Mar 10, 2009, at 6:19 PM, Martin Packer wrote:

> Ed,
> When you say coding in CA, are you refering to the identification of 
> an
> utterance as, for example, the first part of a two-part pair? I 
> don't view
> this as coding, but rather as a step in an ongoing articulation of the
> organization of the conversation, in which component parts will be
> identified in sequential and material context, always subject to 
> revision as
> more of the conversation is considered. I think of coding, as for 
> instance
> in grounded theory, as a practice of abstraction and generalization 
> in which
> the codes replace the original data with abstract categories which 
> are then
> compared to produce more abstract features and kinds. In this kind of
> approach the researcher writes notes or memos not about the data but 
> about
> the categories. The data becomes merely an 'illustration' of the 
> categories,
> and the end result is a 'theory' that takes the form of stated 
> regularities
> among categories. The data, in all its richness and complexity, is 
> left far
> behind. CA is a very different approach.
> Thanks for pointing to the Livingston book. I too find 
> Ethnomethodology's
> Program very useful, both the book and the 1996 article with the 
> same name.
> Anne Rawls (she is the daughter of John Rawls) is writing some very
> interesting pieces of EM, linking it to a fresh interpretation of 
> Durkheim's
> sociological project and his objections to Kant. Some references:
> Garfinkel, H. (1996). Ethnomethodology's program. Social Psychology
> Quarterly, 59(1), 5-21.
> Rawls, A. W. (1996). Durkheim's epistemology: The neglected 
> argument. The
> American Journal of Sociology, 102(2), 430-482.
> Rawls, A. W. (1998). Durkheim's challenge to philosophy: Human reason
> explained as a product of enacted social practice. The American 
> Journal of
> Sociology, 104(3), 887-901.
> Rawls, A. W. (2006). Respecifying the study of social order: 
> Garfinkel's
> transition from theoretical conceptualization to practices in 
> detail. In H.
> Garfinkel & A. W. Rawls (Eds.), Seeing sociologically: The routine 
> grounds
> of social action (pp. 1-98): Paradigm Publishers.
> Martin
> On 3/8/09 8:29 PM, "Ed Wall" <ewall@umich.edu> wrote:
>> Martin
>>        There is a somewhat hard to find book by Eric Livingston:
>> Making Sense Of Ethnomethodology you might want to add to your 
>> reading
>> list (if you already haven't) and for my purposes, teaching a class 
>> or
>> so in Education, pieces of Ethnomethodology's Program (by Garfinkel
>> and edited by Rawls) has been useful. As far as coding goes, if one
>> does Conversational Analysis, then there is some 'coding.'
>> Ed Wall
>> On Mar 8, 2009, at 8:01 PM, Martin Packer wrote:
>>> David,
>>> Coding does indeed not enable one to grasp the complexity of events.
>>> It
>>> ignores or denies, importantly, the intrinsic plurality or ambiguity
>>> of
>>> events/actions, and their reciprocal relations with context. Both of
>>> these
>>> are characteristics which all of us use and exploit as interactional
>>> resources in everyday life. Once an act has been coded a specific
>>> interpretation of it has been fixed, and it has been artificially
>>> removed
>>> from its sequential and material context.
>>> These are reasons why I have always been more drawn to
>>> ethnomethodology.
>>> That's the topic of the class I'm teaching tomorrow (in Spanish,
>>> heaven help
>>> me - and them!) and so I've been refreshing my knowledge. I stumbled
>>> onto my
>>> copy of Roy Turner's collection, titled simply "Ethnomethodology,"
>>> published
>>> by Penguin in 1974, which I brought with me from the UK to the US
>>> eons ago
>>> and now has travelled with me to Colombia. If that doesn't show
>>> affection
>>> for EM I don't know what does! And I've been reading old and new
>>> work by
>>> John Heritage, some of which deals with "epistemic landscapes" in a
>>> way that
>>> very successfully, I think, puts information at the center, as you
>>> put it.
>>> But ethnomethodology isn't based on empathy. It does assume that
>>> there is at
>>> least some degree of communality between the methods used by the
>>> researcher
>>> and those used by the participants to organize their everyday
>>> activity, but
>>> these methods are assumed to be procedural, practical, and not
>>> subjective or
>>> emotional. And the principal source of evidence for a reading of an
>>> interaction in ethnomethodology is the way an action displays the
>>> agent's
>>> understanding of those events it responds to. So what you would like
>>> to say
>>> about (a), (b), and (c) would be constrained and informed by what 
>>> the
>>> students say in response to (a), (b), and (c). It works very well,
>>> without a
>>> single code being imposed.
>>> Okay, okay, I'll go do my reading. Between you and Andy I never have
>>> a spare
>>> moment!
>>> Martin
>>> On 3/8/09 6:35 PM, "David Kellogg" <vaughndogblack@yahoo.com> wrote:
>>>> Martin:
>>>> I'm afraid I'm not going to defend fuzzy thinking. Not because I
>>>> don't agree
>>>> with it, but because I'm not very good at it. My fuzziness tends to
>>>> be of the
>>>> nonvolitional sort.
>>>> As I said, it's an aspect of Jay's work (and also Vygotsky's) I
>>>> haven't really
>>>> assimilated very well. For many years I've been trying to ENTIRELY
>>>> reorganize
>>>> the "present-practice-produce" paradigm of lessons here in Korea
>>>> along the
>>>> lines of his graphico-semiotic functions "getting attention--
>>>> presenting
>>>> information--checking integration".
>>>> It's a VERY powerful way of looking at lessons: it explains why
>>>> skilled
>>>> teachers NEVER begin with a blank slate, it puts information at the
>>>> centre of
>>>> the exchange where it really belongs, and it provides a model of
>>>> understanding
>>>> that is miles from testing practices: integrating old and new, me
>>>> and you, be
>>>> and do.
>>>> But I find it pretty hard to code stuff! Take this, for example, 
>>>> from
>>>> yesterday's introductory class:
>>>> a)"Hi!"
>>>> b) "I'm Mr. K."
>>>> c) "And you?"
>>>> Now, I'd like to say that a) is "getting attention", b) is "giving
>>>> information" and c) is some kind of "checking integration". I'd
>>>> like to go
>>>> further, and say that greetings and DOWN intonation are generally
>>>> a), indicative/declaratives with horizontal or UP-DOWN intonation 
>>>> are
>>>> generally b) and teacher questions often often UP intoned and c).
>>>> But the data won't code with any reliability Worse, I find there is
>>>> a) in b)
>>>> ("I'm") and b) in a) ("Hi" gives information about how the speaker
>>>> envisions
>>>> the relationship), and c) in eveything (even the grammar).
>>>> Everything is
>>>> everything.
>>>> How nice it would be to shrug my shoulders like Hegel and say "So
>>>> much the
>>>> worse for the facts!" I would like to believe, as Benjamin says,
>>>> that "insight
>>>> into the relationship between essences is the prerogative of the
>>>> philosopher
>>>> and these relationships remain unaltered even if they do not take
>>>> on the
>>>> purest form in the world of fact." But I don't.
>>>> This is  think one of Mariane Hedegaard's GREAT strengths (shown in
>>>> the
>>>> analysis of the Jens data but even more strongly at the end in her
>>>> analysis
>>>> of, and even her refusal to analyze, the Halime data) is her emic
>>>> (empathetic,
>>>> ethnomethodological) attitude towards what the subjects say. I
>>>> don't think
>>>> this is sentimentally motivated. I think it's a serious attempt
>>>> "not to laugh,
>>>> nor to cry, but to understand".
>>>> So she has to recognize that to an outsider (Jens, Halime) a
>>>> dominant culture
>>>> really DOES look pretty monological and monolithic, and in fact it
>>>> is, at
>>>> least in terms of its exclusiveness and inaccessibility. Given that
>>>> it is
>>>> categorical exclusiveness and inaccessibility that is the source of
>>>> this
>>>> apparent monolithicity, I think the idea that the categorial
>>>> thinking of the
>>>> oppressed and that of the oppressor have the same ontological basis
>>>> is simply
>>>> wrong.
>>>> Roy follows up his quotation of Benjamin with a long reference to
>>>> Malcolm X's
>>>> well known speech about "the house negro" and the "field negro",
>>>> recently
>>>> misquoted by Al Qaida's Al Zawahiri with respect to Barack Obama. 
>>>> His
>>>> argument, which I'm not sure I buy, is that BOTH are powerless, but
>>>> the field
>>>> negro is still strong, and part of that strength is a clear,
>>>> monolithic
>>>> distinction between master and slave.
>>>> But I am interfering with your time, Martin. Read Hedegaard--it's a
>>>> real
>>>> treat!
>>>> David Kellogg
>>>> Seoul National University of Education
>>>> --- On Sun, 3/8/09, Martin Packer <packer@duq.edu> wrote:
>>>> From: Martin Packer <packer@duq.edu>
>>>> Subject: Re: [xmca] Hedegaard article
>>>> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
>>>> Date: Sunday, March 8, 2009, 3:00 PM
>>>> I don't know, David. I haven't had time yet to read the Hedegaard
>>>> article,
>>>> so I can't put the remarks in that context. I presume you're not
>>>> proposing
>>>> that one ought to categorize Danish culture as pathologically
>>>> monological,
>>>> or nasty. I don't understand how that kind of appeal to "what we in
>>>> the
>>>> west... recognize" (which "we" is that, exactly?) can claim to
>>>> identify the
>>>> roots of a failure to think in "fuzzy" terms, not least, of course,
>>>> because
>>>> it's not exactly a fuzzy way of putting things.
>>>> Martin
>>>> On 3/8/09 12:20 AM, "David Kellogg" <vaughndogblack@yahoo.com> 
>>>> wrote:
>>>>> Dear Martin:
>>>>> I don't find Jay's comments at all offensive, and they are
>>>>> simplistic only in
>>>>> the sense of being telegraphic (like the word "nasty"). Actually,
>>>>> I find
>>>>> Jay's
>>>>> work anything but simplistic; if anything it's a little too
>>>>> nuanced for my
>>>>> purposes (coding data involves a LOT of categorial distinctions!)
>>>>> I interpreted Jay's comments in the context of Mariane Hedegaard's
>>>>> article,
>>>>> particularly the ending, where Halime is describing her
>>>>> relationship to the
>>>>> Danish language and to the Danish "good life". I'm assuming that
>>>>> this article
>>>>> was written well after the Centre-Right Rasmussen government came
>>>>> to power
>>>>> (in
>>>>> 2001) with, of course, the support of the Bush administration,
>>>>> which they
>>>>> promptly returned by embroiling Denmark in the Iraq War.
>>>>> What is not so well known is that the Rasmussen government is
>>>>> supported by
>>>>> the
>>>>> Dansk Folkeparti of Pia Kjaersgaard, which is the equivalent of
>>>>> Jean Marie Le
>>>>> Pen's Front Nationale in France or Jurg Haidar's neo-fascist
>>>>> Austrian
>>>>> People's
>>>>> Party. This party, which has been shown to be infilitrated by
>>>>> terrorist
>>>>> neo-Nazi organizations like Combat 18, opposes all forms of
>>>>> immigration,
>>>>> consider white people to be oppressed by the Muslim minority in
>>>>> Denmark, and
>>>>> after 9/11 Kjaersgaard said that the Americans were wrong to call
>>>>> this a
>>>>> clash
>>>>> of civilizations because "There is only one civilization and that
>>>>> is ours."
>>>>> Here are some quotations from their parliamentary delegation, just
>>>>> to give
>>>>> you
>>>>> some sense of what Halime is talking about:
>>>>> Morten Messerschmidt, DPP member of Danish Parliament:
>>>>> "I believe that all Muslim communities are, by definition, loser
>>>>> communities.
>>>>> The Muslims are not capable of critical thinking."[24]
>>>>> Pia Kjærsgaard's newsletter (February 25, 2002):
>>>>> "The Social Security Act is passé because it was tailored to a
>>>>> Danish family
>>>>> tradition and work ethic and not to Muslims, for whom it is fair
>>>>> to be
>>>>> provided for by others while the wife gives birth to a lot of
>>>>> children. The
>>>>> child benefit grant is being taken advantage of, as an immigrant
>>>>> achieves a
>>>>> record income due to [having] just under a score of children. New
>>>>> punishment
>>>>> limits must be introduced for group rapes because the problem only
>>>>> arrived
>>>>> with the vandalism of the many anti-social second-generation
>>>>> immigrants."
>>>>> [25]
>>>>> It seems to me that in the USA in the sixties and again today
>>>>> there was a
>>>>> fairly common liberal sentiment to the effect that racism was
>>>>> above all just
>>>>> a
>>>>> bad idea, and that since it was nothing more than a bad idea, it
>>>>> could be
>>>>> cured fairly easily by a dose of Sidney Poitier or Barack Obama.
>>>>> The corollary of this sentiment is that, of course, the oppressed
>>>>> must not be
>>>>> allowed to cherish similar bad ideas, not merely because it might
>>>>> provoke the
>>>>> oppressor to even more savage acts of oppression but above all
>>>>> because racism
>>>>> is just a bad idea in general.
>>>>> Well, it doesn't take much to show that this liberal sentiment is
>>>>> simply
>>>>> wrong. Sidney Poitier did not cure American racism, and neither
>>>>> will Barack
>>>>> Obama. The reason is simple; racism is not "just a bad idea" but,
>>>>> like any
>>>>> other pervasive and systematic ideology, a reflection of real
>>>>> material
>>>>> historical conditions.
>>>>> Specifically, racism reflects the historical conditions of
>>>>> American slavery,
>>>>> European colonialism, and the not merely historical reserve army
>>>>> of the
>>>>> unemployed, which is growing by leaps and bounds as we speak.
>>>>> Perhaps it's
>>>>> time to consider the idea that so-called "reverse racism", or
>>>>> rather, the
>>>>> rage
>>>>> of the oppressed, is really NOT part of the problem, but in fact
>>>>> part of the
>>>>> solution.
>>>>> David Kirshner's colleague, Kaustuv Roy, has written a wonderful
>>>>> book
>>>>> (Thanks,
>>>>> David!) called Neighborhoods of the Plantation which begins with a
>>>>> quote
>>>>> from Walter Benjamin on immigration and borders as a means of
>>>>> keeping
>>>>> "culture" pure. Benjamin committed suicide when, fleeing the
>>>>> Nazis, he was
>>>>> not
>>>>> allowed to pass from occupied France into Spain :
>>>>> "Where frontiers are decided the adversary is not simply
>>>>> annihilated; indeed
>>>>> he is accorded rights even when the victor's superiority of 
>>>>> power is
>>>>> complete.
>>>>> And these are, in a demonically ambiguous way, 'equal rights', for
>>>>> both
>>>>> parties ot the treat it is the same line that may not be crossed.
>>>>> Here
>>>>> appears, in a terribly primitive form, the same mythical ambiguity
>>>>> of laws
>>>>> that may not be 'infringed' to which Anatole France refers
>>>>> satirically when
>>>>> he
>>>>> says that 'Poor and rich are equally forbidden to spend the night
>>>>> under
>>>>> bridges.'"
>>>>> David Kellogg
>>>>> Seoul National University of Education
>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>> xmca mailing list
>>>>> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
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