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Edited by Sara Delamont
Chapter 33: Ethnomethodology, Conversation Analysis and Educational Settings
William Housley Ethnomethodological and conversation analytic research of educational settings is now well established and has produced a significant corpus of studies that inform the social scientific understanding of the situated social organization of educational processes and practices. It has also provided a cumulative set of empirical studies which serve to inform contemporary and ongoing educational research. Traditionally the ‘School’ has provided an important institutional context within which interactionist and phenomenological conceptualization of labelling and social types have found fertile empirical ground (Hargreaves et al., 1975). Complementary work began to examine the interaction order of educational settings by focusing on practical action, discourse and talk-in-interaction often through an examination of naturally occurring data as well as detailed ethnographic observation (Hammersley, 1977). This type of work has been heavily influenced by ethnomethodological conceptualizations of social action and organization. In order to appreciate how this approach has influenced educational research it is necessary to outline some of the basic ideas associated with this approach. THE ETHNOMETHODOLOGICAL PROGRAMME Ethnomethodology is a heterogeneous sociological programme. According to sociological orthodoxy ethnomethodology began with the publication of Harold Garfinkel’s Studies in Ethnomethodology (1967). Garfinkel had been a student of the famous structural functionalist Talcott Parsons. He was influenced by the phenomenological work of Alfred Schutz with whom Parsons maintained a troublesome correspondence. Some of Garfinkel’s early work involved the use of ‘breaching experiments’ with which Garfinkel illustrated the normative grounding of social order via the explication of common sense methods which people followed and displayed in...
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