Harold Garfinkel on Respecification (1988)

Harold Garfinkel (1988/1991) "Respecification"
"Respecification: evidence for locally produced, naturally accountable phenomena of order*1, logic, reason, meaning, method, etc. in and as of the essential haecceity of immortal ordinary society, (I) - an announcement of studies2"

Harold Garfinkel
At a recent symposium of the American Sociological Association celebrating the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Structure of SociaI Action(Parsons, 1937)3, Jeffrey Alexander called attention to the book's continuing influence upon professional sociology. In the generosity of the celebration, he situated ethnomethodology's programme in the agenda of analytic sociology and offered ethnomethodology good advice.

�@�@From his place within the agenda, he identified for aIl ethnomethodologists the studies they do, advised them of studies they should do, and offered friendly advice about emphases they cannot avoid. In thoughtful reflections, he praised ethnomethodological studies for carrying on with the problem of social order that Parsons specified, and with which he instituted formal analytic sociology. In a spirit of generosity Alexander offered ethnomethodology an olive branch. Rather than pursuing their programme of current studies - which in another context he has criticised as 'individualistic'- ethnomethodologists should celebrate The Structure of Social Action by returning to the analytic fold4.

�@�@I disagree. There are good reasons for ethnomethodological studies to specify the production and accountability of immortal, ordinary society - that miracle of familiar organisational things - as the local production and natural, reflexive accountability of the phenomena of order*'. Among those reasons is making discoverable one of those phenomena of order', but only one, namely what analysis incarnate in and as ordinary society, as practical action's locally and interactionaIIy produced and witnessed embodied details, could adequately be.

�@�@Although both formal analytic sociology and ethnomethodology address produced phenomena of order*, and although both seek to specify the production and accountability of imortal ordinary society, a summary play on Durkheim's aphorism reminds us of their differences.

�@�@For The Structure of Social Action, Durkheim's aphorism is intact:.'The objective reality of social facts is sociology's fundamental principle'. For ethnomethodology the objective reality of social facts, in that; and just how, it is every society's locally, endogenously produced, naturally organised, reflexively accountable, ongoing, practical achievement, being everywhere, always, only, exactly and entirely, members'work, with no time out, and with no possibility of evasion, hiding out, passing, postponement, or buy-outs, is thereby sociology's fundamental phenomenon.

�@�@In his talk, Alexander properly reminded the profession that in The Structure of Social ActionParsons gave to professional sociology a way to find and exhibit the real production and accountability of immortal, ordinary society, concerned with, and profoundly reasoned about generic, massively recurrent properties of human action in and as the properties of populations, The Structure of SociaI Action set an example for formal analytic sociology, and has become emblematic of analytic sociology and of the world-wide social science movement.

�@�@Ethnomethodology has its origins in this wonderful book. Its earliest initiatives were taken from these texts5. Ethnomethodologists have continued to consult its texts to understand the practices and the achievemets of formal analysis in the work of professional social science.

�@�@Inspired by The Structure of Social Actionethnomethodology undertook the task of respecifyingthe production and accountability of immortal, ordinary society. It has done so by searching for, and specifying, radical phenomena. In the pursuit of the programme, a certain agenda of themes, announced and elaborated in The Structure of SociaI Action, has over the years offered a contrasting standing point of departure to ethnomethodology's interest in respecification. Found throughout the book, faithful to the book, and used by ethnomethodologists to read the book, these themes brought the book's materials together as its coherent and researchable argument that the real society was available to the policies and methods of formal analytic sociology. With these policies, concrete society could be investigated and demonstrated to indefinite depths of detaiI, with no actual setting excused from jurisdiction, regardless of time, place, staff, locality, skills, or scale.

Graham Button ed. (1991) _Ethnomethodology and the Human Sciences._
Cambridge Univ. Press.

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