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Title: Foundations of ethnomethodology : aspects of the problem of meaning in the social sciences
Author: McCartney, Paul Bernard
ISNI:       0000 0001 3622 9737
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 1979
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In this thesis I have set out to perform two interlocking, although separable, tasks. The first is to provide some insight into the philosophical and theoretical roots of ethnomethodology by investigating the work of Garfinkel and others who have in some way assimilated, borrowed from, or been influenced by his work, in a context provided by a discussion of the work of Husserl and Schutz on the one hand and that of Wittgenstein on the other. I will show the ways in which Schutz has adapted Husserlian phenomenological insights to further his own fundamentally sociological ends and how Garfinkel, borrowing only selectively from Schutz and allowing many other influences to play upon his work (here Kaufman, Parsons and Gurwitsch are important sources of ideas), transforms ideas generated in the phenomenological tradition to an extent which suggests that his writings should be seen in a context set by Wittgenstein's writings (in terms particularly of notions such as 'form of life' and trulel in a sense of those terms which will become apparent), rather than encumbering it with too uuch phenomenological baggage I will move on from there to investigate the writings of other ethnomethodologists, showing how some - for example Cicourel - remain more firmly within the phenomenological tradition, whilst others have taken various of Garfinkel's ideas (although few have taken them whole and undiluted) and investigated, in their various ways, their implications for the study of -social order and society. In the process of this arm of the discussion I will point out some of the weaknesses and strengths of various ethnomethodological positions, suggesting in conclusion that there is important work being done and waiting to be done in the areas currently being investigated. The second task of the thesis is less historically oriented. Here the focus will be upon theoretical issues surrounding the problem of social order and the problem of meaning, problems which will be seen to be interrelated. The chief concern here will be to show the ways in which Wittgenstein and Garfinkel struggle to present and make coherent a sense of 'meaning' which is fundamentally different from that which is espoused by phenomenologists like Schutz and by many other contemporary sociologists, and how this difference rests side by side, in Garfinkel's work, with a radically different approach to the problem of social order from that which characterises the work of Parsons and others. The thrust of this difference lies in an attempt to reconceptualise 'meaning' in a way that does not posit as fundamental the distinction between 'subjectivity' on the one hand and an 'objective' world on the other, but which instead, by emphasising the omniprevalence of 'language games' and the 'indexicality' of expressions, focuses attention on some notion of 'form of life' or of the 'formal structures of practical actions'. The effect of this shift of emphasis, I will suggest, is that 'meaning' becomes transformed from seeming to be a 'thing' of some kind contained within a 'structure' of meanings to become instead an 'embedded' phenomenon, bound up with what we do in the social world, where the things we do generate and exhibit those orderly features which make meaning possible.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: B Philosophy (General) ; HM Sociology