Human Studies

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 479–504 | Cite as

Early Glimmers of the Now Familiar Ethnomethodological Themes in Garfinkel’s “The Perception of the Other”

Theoreticla / Philosophical Paper


Garfinkel’s dissertation, “The Perception of the Other,” was completed and defended 15 years prior to the publication of Studies in Ethnomethodology. This essay seeks hints of the familiar ethnomethodological themes (indexicality, reflexivity, accountability) within his thesis. It begins by examining the contributions of earlier social theorists, particularly Talcott Parsons and Alfred Schütz, to Garfinkel’s thought. It then examines the dissertation itself seeking evidence to support the claim that Garfinkel was already moving in the direction of an ‘incommensurable, asymmetric, and alternate’ program of sociological inquiry well before the term ‘ethnomethodology’ had even been coined.


Ethnomethodology Talcott Parsons Alfred Schütz 


  1. Bruner, J., & Postman, L. (1949). On the perception of incongruity: A paradigm. Journal of Personality, 18, 206–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Garfinkel, H. (1952). The perception of the other: A study in social order. Unpublished dissertation. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.Google Scholar
  3. Garfinkel, H. (1960). A comparison of decisions made on four “pre-theoretical” problems by Talcott Parsons and Alfred Schuetz. Unpublished mimeo.Google Scholar
  4. Garfinkel, H. (1962). Common-sense knowledge of social structures: The documentary method of interpretation. In J. M. Scher (Ed.), Theories of the mind (pp. 689–712). New York: Free Press of Glencoe.Google Scholar
  5. Garfinkel, H. (1963). A conception of, and experiments with, ‘trust’ as a condition of stable concerted actions. In O. J. Harvey (Ed.), Motivation and social interaction (pp. 187–238). New York: Ronald Press.Google Scholar
  6. Garfinkel, H. (1967). Studies in ethnomethodology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  7. Garfinkel, H. (1988). Evidence for locally produced, naturally accountable phenomena or order*, logic, reason, meaning, method, etc. in and as of the essential quiddity of immortal ordinary society (I of IV): An announcement of studies. Sociological Theory, 6, 103–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Garfinkel, H. (2002). In A. Rawls (Ed.), Ethnomethodology’s program: Working out Durkheim’s aphorism. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  9. Garfinkel, H. (2006). In A. Rawls (Ed.), Seeing sociologically: The routine grounds of social action. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers.Google Scholar
  10. Garfinkel, H. (2008). In A. Rawls (Ed.), Toward a sociological theory of information. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers.Google Scholar
  11. Garfinkel, H., & Wieder, D. L. (1992). Two incommensurable, asymmetrically alternate technologies of social analysis. In G. Watson & R. M. Seiler (Eds.), Text in context: Contributions to ethnomethodology (pp. 175–206). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  12. Grathoff, R. (Ed.). (1978). The theory of social action: The correspondence of Alfred Schütz and Talcott Parsons. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Gurwitsch, A. (2010). Outlines of a theory of ‘Essentially Occasional Expressions’. In R. M. Zaner & L. Embree (Eds.), The collected works of Aron Gurwitsch (1901–1973) (Vol. III, pp. 519–537). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  14. Heritage, J. (1984). Garfinkel and ethnomethodology. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  15. Heritage, J. (1987). Ethnomethodology. In A. Giddens & J. H. Turner (Eds.), Social theory today (pp. 224–272). Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Heritage, J. (1990). Interactional accountability: A conversation analytic perspective. In B. Conein, M. de Formel, & L. Quéré (Eds.), Les formes de la conversation (pp. 23–50). Paris: C.E.N.T.Google Scholar
  17. Hinkle, G. J., et al. (1977). Transcript of a panel: When is phenomenology sociological? Annals of Phenomenological Sociology, 2, 1–40.Google Scholar
  18. Hobbes, T. (1962/1651). Leviathan, or the matter, forme and power of a commonwealth ecclesiastical and civil. London: Collier Macmillan Publishers.Google Scholar
  19. Langsdorf, L. (1995). Treating method and form as phenomena: An appreciation of Garfinkel’s phenomenology of social action. Human Studies, 18, 177–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Liberman, K. (2007). Husserl’s criticism of reason with ethnomethodological specifications. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  21. Parsons, T. (1949/1937). The structure of social action: A study in social theory with special reference to a group of recent European writers. Glencoe, IL: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  22. Parsons, T. (1953). The theory of symbolism in relation to action. In T. Parsons, R. F. Bales, & E. A. Shils (Eds.), Working papers in the theory of action (pp. 31–62). New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  23. Parsons, T. (1978). A 1974 retrospective perspective. In R. Grathoff (Ed.), The theory of social action (pp. 115–124). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Parsons, T., et al. (1951). Some fundamental categories of the theory of action: A general statement. In T. Parsons & E. A. Shils (Eds.), Toward a general theory of action (pp. 3–30). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Sandmeyer, B. (2009). Husserl’s constitutive phenomenology: It’s problem and promise. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  26. Schütz, A. (1932). Der sinnhafte Aufbau der Sozialen Welt: Eine Einleitung in die verstende Soziologie. Wien: Verlag von Julius Springer.Google Scholar
  27. Schütz, A. (1943). The problem of rationality in the social world. Economica, 10, 130–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Schütz, A. (1945). On multiple realities. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 5, 533–575.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Schütz, A. (1951). Choosing among projects of action. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 12, 161–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Schütz, A. (1953). Common-sense and scientific interpretation of human actions. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 14, 1–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Schütz, A. (1960). The social world and the theory of social action. Social Research, 27, 203–221.Google Scholar
  32. Scott, M. B., & Lyman, S. M. (1968). Accounts. American Sociological Review, 33, 46–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sharrock, W., & Anderson, B. (1986). The ethnomethodologists. Chichester, U.K.: Ellis Horwood.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medical EducationSouthern Illinois UniversitySpringfieldUSA

Personalised recommendations