From Durkheim to Garfinkel: Social Facts and Social Order

  • Feifei Zhou


This chapter will position ethnomethodology in the praxis of sociology and phenomenology to trace Garfinkel’s theoretical heritage and highlight his intellectual innovation. With this historical investigation, I will outline the pathways along which individual social actor’s order-producing and -maintaining work (including but not limited to languaging and communicating efforts) comes to take centre stage in Garfinkel’s thought. Ethnomethodology, even in its heyday, was never recognised as the mainstream of sociological thinking. However, as accounted by Garfinkel (2002), ethnomethodology claims to be the heir to Emile Durkheim—the father of sociology, and its project is to carry on with the study of ‘social facts’ which is famously contained in the aphorism by Durkheim (1895/1982, p. 60): ‘The first and fundamental rule [of sociology] is to consider social facts as things’. There are many different interpretations of Garfinkel’s program and its status in both sociology and philosophy; my view is that, despite that ethnomethodology represents a radical way to do sociology, its concern is still a sociological one though phenomenology fuelled its innovative power. I will explain this in the following.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Feifei Zhou
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EnglishLingnan UniversityHong KongChina

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