Phenomenology, Ethnomethodology, and Family Discourse

  • Jaber F. Gubrium
  • James A. Holstein


Conventional approaches to family studies typically begin with an understanding or definition of the family that specifies its characteristics as a particular kind of group. This seems eminently reasonable, both commonsensically and as a social scientific practice. We all believe families to inhabit everyday life as concrete entities, and to study them we must clearly designate what is being observed. But how is the student of the family to take his or her encounters with people in the “real world” whose images of family seem radically different from the academic definitions? Consider, for example, the now-familiar refrain of the athlete who explains his team’s success by noting that “We have a good family atmosphere going” (Gubrium & Holstein, 1990, p. 140). Or what do we make of urban anthropologist Carol Stack’s (1974, p. 58) report that in the community she studied, “When friends more than adequately share the exchange of goods and services, they are called kinsmen … if two women of the same age are helping one another, they call their friend ‘just a sister’”?


Everyday Life Family Therapy Family Study Life World Core Assumption 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Allen, H. (1987). Justice unbalanced: Gender, psychiatry, and judicial decisions. Philadelphia: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Aries, P. (1962). Centuries of Childhood: A Social History of Family Life. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  3. Bateson, G. (1979). Mind and nature: A necessary unity. New York: Dutton.Google Scholar
  4. Bernardes, J. (1985). “Family ideology”: Identification and exploration. Sociological Review, 33, 275–297.Google Scholar
  5. Bernardes, J. (1987). “Doing things with words”: Sociology and “family policy” debates. Sociological Review, 35, 679–702.Google Scholar
  6. Bernardes, J. (1988). Founding the new “family studies.” Sociological Review, 36, 57–86.Google Scholar
  7. Berger, P. L. (1963). Invitation to sociology. New York: Doubleday Anchor.Google Scholar
  8. Berger, P. L., & Kellner, H. (1970). Marriage and the construction of reality. In H. P. Dreitzel (Ed.), Recent sociology (No. 2, pp. 50–72). New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  9. Berger, P. L., & Luckmann, T. (1966). The social construction of reality: A treatise in the sociology of knowledge. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  10. Bilmes, J. (1986). Discourse and behavior. New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  11. Bott, E. (1957). Family and social network. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  12. Buckholdt, D. R. & Gubrium, J. F. (1979). Caretakers: Treating emotionally disturbed children. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  13. Camic, C. (1989). Structure after 50 years: The anatomy of a charter. American Journal of Sociology, 95, 38–107.Google Scholar
  14. Cheal, D. (1991). Family and the state of theory. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  15. Cicourel, A. V. (1967). Fertility, family planning, and the social organization of family life: Some methodological issues. Journal of Social Issues, 23, 57–81.Google Scholar
  16. Cicourel, A. V. (1967). Kinship, marriage, and divorce in comparative family law. Law and Society Review, 1, 103–129.Google Scholar
  17. Cicourel, A. V. (1968). The social organization of juvenile justice. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  18. Cicourel, A. V. (1974). Theory and method in a study of Argentine fertility. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  19. Condit, M. (1990). Decoding abortion rhetoric: Communicating social change. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  20. Daly, K. (1987). Structure and practice of familial-based justice in a criminal court. Law and Society Review, 21, 267–290.Google Scholar
  21. Davidson, J. Lax, W. D., Lussardi, D. J., Miller, D., & Ratheau, M. (1988). The reflecting team. The Family Therapy Networker, 12, 44–46, 76–77.Google Scholar
  22. Denzin, N. K. (1970). Symbolic interaction and ethnomethodology. In J. D. Douglas (Ed.), Understanding everyday life (pp. 259–284). Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  23. Denzin, N. K. (1990). Reading cultural texts: Comment on Griswold. American Journal of Sociology, 95, 1577–1580.Google Scholar
  24. Derrida, J. (1981). Positions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  25. deShazer, S., & Berg, I. K. (1988). Constructing solutions. The Family Therapy Networker, 12, 42–43.Google Scholar
  26. DeVault, M. L. (1991). Feeding the family: The social organization of caring as gendered work. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  27. Dingwall, R, Eekelaar, J., & Murray, T. (1983). The protection of children: State intervention and family life. Oxford, England: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  28. Donzelot, J. (1979). The policing of families. New York: Pantheon.Google Scholar
  29. Douglas, M. (1986). How institutions think. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Durkheim, E. (1938). The rules of sociological method New York: Free Press. (Original work published 1895)Google Scholar
  31. Durkheim, E. (1961) The elementary forms of the religious life. New York: Collier-Macmillan.Google Scholar
  32. Eaton, M. (1985). Documenting the defendent: Placing women in social inquiry reports. In J. Brophy & C. Smart (Eds.), Woman-in-law (pp. 120–141). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  33. Emerson, R. M. (1969). Judging delinquents. Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  34. Emerson, R. M., & Messenger, S. (1977). The micropolitics of trouble. Social Problems, 25, 121–135.Google Scholar
  35. Efran, J. S., Lukens, R. J., & Lukens, M. D. (1988). Constructivism: What’s in it for you? The Family Therapy Networker, 12, 27–35.Google Scholar
  36. The Family Therapy Networker. (1988, September/October). Special issue on “The Constructivist Challenge.”Google Scholar
  37. Ferreira, A. J. (1966). Family myths. Psychiatric Research Reports of the American Psychiatric Association, 20, 85–90.Google Scholar
  38. Foucault, M. (1980). Power / knowledge (C. Gordon, Ed.) New York: Pantheon.Google Scholar
  39. Garfinkel, H. (1967). Studies in ethnomethodology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  40. Geertz, C. (1983). Local knowledge. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  41. Giallombardo, R. (1966). Society of women. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  42. Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  43. Gouldner, A. (1970). The coming crisis of western sociology. New York: Avon.Google Scholar
  44. Gubrium, J. F. (1986). Oldtimers and Alzheimer’s: The descriptive organization of senility. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.Google Scholar
  45. Gubrium, J. F. (1987). Organizational embeddedness and family life. In T. Brubaker (Ed.), Aging, health, and family: Long-term care (pp. 23–41). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  46. Gubrium, J. F. (1988). Family as project. Sociological Review, 36: 273–295.Google Scholar
  47. Gubrium, J. F. (1988). Family responsibility and caregiving in the qualitative analysis of the Alzheimer’s disease experience. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 50, 197–207.Google Scholar
  48. Gubrium, J. F. (1989). The domestic meaning of institutionalization. In L. E. Thomas (Ed.), Research on adulthood and aging (pp. 81–106). Albany, NY: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
  49. Gubrium, J. F. (1989). Local cultures and service policy. In J. F. Gubrium & D. Silverman (Eds.), The politics of field research: Sociology beyond enlightenment (pp. 94–112). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  50. Gubrium, J. F. (1991). The mosaic of care: Frail elderly and their families in the real world. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  51. Gubrium, J. F. (1992). Out of control: Family therapy and domestic disorder. New bury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  52. Gubrium, J. F., & Buckholdt, D. R. (1982). Describing care: Image and practice in rehabilitation. Boston: Oelgeschlager, Gunn & Hain.Google Scholar
  53. Gubrium, J. F., & Buckholdt, D. R. (1982). Fictive family: Everyday usage, analytic, and human service considerations. American Anthropologist, 84, 878–885.Google Scholar
  54. Gubrium, J. F., & Holstein, J. A. (1987). The private image: Experiential location and method in family studies. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 49, 773–786.Google Scholar
  55. Gubrium, J. F., & Holstein, J. A. (1990). What is family? Mountain View, CA: Mayfield.Google Scholar
  56. Gubrium, J. F., & Holstein, J. A. (in press). Family discourse, organizational embeddedness, and local enactment. Journal of Family Issues, 14.Google Scholar
  57. Gubrium, J. F., & Lynott, R. J. (1985). Family rhetoric as social order. Journal of Family Issues, 6, 129–152.Google Scholar
  58. Gubrium, J. F., & Rittman, M. R. (1990). Small worlds and intergenerational relations. Marriage & Family Review, 16, 89–102.Google Scholar
  59. Haley, J. (1967). Experiment with abnormal families. Archives of General Psychiatry, 17, 53–63.Google Scholar
  60. Heritage, J. (1984). Garfinkel and ethnomethodology. Cambridge, England: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  61. Hildebrand, B. (1988). Modernisierungsprogresse in der Landwirtschaft und ihre Bewältigung. Vergleich einer “schizophrenen” mit einer “normalen” familie. In K. Lüscher, F. Schultheis, M. Wehrspaun (Eds.), Die “postmoderne” familie (pp. 297–311). Konstanz: Universitätsverlag Konstanz.Google Scholar
  62. Hoffman, L. (1988). The constructivist position for family therapy. Irish Journal of Psychology, 9, 46–57.Google Scholar
  63. Holstein, J. A. (1984). The placement of insanity: Assessments of grave disability and involuntary commitment decisions. Urban Life, 13, 35–62.Google Scholar
  64. Holstein, J. A. (1987). Mental illness assumptions in civil commitment proceedings. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 16, 147–175.Google Scholar
  65. Holstein, J. A. (1987). Producing gender effects on involuntary mental hospitalization. Social Problems, 34, 301–315.Google Scholar
  66. Holstein, J. A. (1988). Court-ordered incompetence: Conversational organization in involuntary commitment hearings. Social Problems, 35, 801–816.Google Scholar
  67. Holstein, J. A. (1988). Studying “family usage”: Family image and discourse in mental hospitalization decisions. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 17, 247–273.Google Scholar
  68. Holstein, J. A. (1990). The discourse of age in involuntary commitment proceedings. Journal of Aging Studies, 4.Google Scholar
  69. Holstein, J. A. (1990). Describing home care: Discourse and image in involuntary commitment proceedings. In J. F. Gubrium & A. Sankar (Eds.), The home care experience: Ethnography and policy (pp. 209–226). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  70. Holstein, J. A. (1993). Court ordered insanity: Interpretive practice and involuntary commitment. Hawthorne, NY: Aldine de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  71. Holstein, J. A. & Gubrium, J. F. (in press). Constructing family: Descriptive practice and domestic order. In T. R. Sarbin & J. I. Kitsuse (Eds.), Constructing the social. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  72. Homans, G. (1961). Social behavior: Its elementary forms. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World.Google Scholar
  73. Husserl, E. (1946). Phenomenology. In Encyclopedia Britannica (14th ed., Vol. 17, pp. 699–702). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  74. Jackson, D. D. (1957). The question of family homeostasis. Psychiatric Quarterly, 31, 79–90.Google Scholar
  75. Kelly, G. A. (1969). Clinical psychology and personality. (B. Maher, Ed). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  76. Knorr-Cetina, K., & Cicourel, A. V. (Eds.) (1981). Advances in social theory and methodology: Toward an integration of micro- and macro-sociologies. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  77. Kuhn, T. S. (1962). The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago, University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  78. Laing, R. D. (1969). The politics of the family. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  79. Laing, R. D. & Esterson, A. (1964). Sanity, madness and the family. Baltimore: Penguin.Google Scholar
  80. Lasch, C. (1979). Haven in a heartless world. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  81. Lüscher, K., Wehrspaun, M., & Lange, A. (1989). Begriff and Rhetorik der Familie [The definition and rhetorics of family]. Zeitschrift für Familienforschung, 1, 67–76.Google Scholar
  82. Maturana, H. R., & Varela, F. J. (1987). The tree of knowledge. Boston: Shambhala.Google Scholar
  83. Maynard, D. (1984). Inside plea bargaining. New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  84. McLain, R., & Weigert, A. (1979). Toward a phenomenological sociology of family: A programmatic essay. In W. R. Burr, R. Hill, F. I. Nye, & I. L. Reiss (Eds.), Contemporary theories about the family (Vol. II, pp. 160–205). New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  85. Mehan, H., & Wood, H. (1975). The reality of ethnomethodology. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  86. Miller, G. (1987). Producing family problems: Organization and uses of the family perspective in family therapy. Symbolic Interaction, 10, 245–265.Google Scholar
  87. Miller, G. (1990). Enforcing the work ethic. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
  88. Miller, G. (1991). Family as excuse and extenuating circumstance: Social organization and use of family rhetoric in a work incentive program. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 53, 609–621.Google Scholar
  89. Miller, G. & Holstein, J. A. (1989). On the sociology of social problems. In J. A. Holstein & G. Miller (Eds.), Perspectives on social problems (Vol. 1, pp. 1–16). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.Google Scholar
  90. Miller, L. (1990). Safe home, dangerous street. In G. Miller & J. A. Holstein (Eds.), Perspectives on Social Problems (vol. 2, pp. 123–136). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.Google Scholar
  91. Mills, C. W. (1943). The professional ideology of social pathologists. American Journal of Sociology, 49, 219–232.Google Scholar
  92. Mills, C. W. (1949). Situated actions and vocabularies of motive. American Sociological Review, 5, 904–913.Google Scholar
  93. Mills, C. W. (1959). The sociological imagination. New York: Grove.Google Scholar
  94. Moore, B. (1958). Political power and social theory. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  95. Parsons, T. (1937). The structure of social action. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  96. Parsons, T. (1951). The social system. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  97. Pollner, M. (1987). Mundane reason. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  98. Poster, M. (1978). Critical theory of the family. New York: Seabury.Google Scholar
  99. Reiss, D. (1981). The family’s construction of reality. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  100. Rohlen, T. P. (1974). For harmony and strength. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  101. Sanders, W. B. (1976). Juvenile delinquency. New York: Praeger.Google Scholar
  102. Sacks, H. 1972. On the analyzability of stories by children. In J. J. Gumperz & D. Hymes (Eds.), Directions in sociolinguistics: The ethnography of communication (pp. 329–335). New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.Google Scholar
  103. Schlossman, S. (1977). Love and the American delinquent. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  104. Schutz, A. (1962). Collected papers: Vol. 1. The problem of social reality. The Hague: Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  105. Schutz, A. (1964). Collected papers: Vol. 2. Studies in social theory. The Hague: Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  106. Schutz, A. (1966). Collected papers: Vol. 3. Studies in phenomenological philosophy. The Hague: Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  107. Schutz, A. (1967). The phenomenology of the social world. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  108. Schutz, A. (1970). On phenomenology and social relations. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  109. Shield, R. R. (1988). Uneasy endings. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  110. Shorter, E. (1975). The making of the modern family. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  111. Silverman, D. (1971). The theory of organizations. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  112. Smith, D. E. (1987). The everyday world as problematic. Boston: Northeastern University Press.Google Scholar
  113. Smith, D. E. (1990). Texts, facts, and femininity: Exploring the relations of ruling. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  114. Smith, D. E. (in press). The standard North American family: SNAF as an ideological model. Journal of Family Issues, 14.Google Scholar
  115. Spector, M., & Kitsuse, J. I. (1977). Constructing social problems. Menlo Park, CA: Cummings.Google Scholar
  116. Stack, C. (1974). All our kin. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  117. Thorne, B., & Yalom, M. (Eds.) (1982). Rethinking the family. New York: Longman.Google Scholar
  118. Tufte, V., & Myerhoff, B. (Eds.) (1979). Changing images of the family. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  119. Wagner, H. R. (1970). Introduction. In A. Schutz (Ed.), On phenomenology and social relations (pp. 1–50). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  120. Walsh, G. (1967). Introduction. In A. Schutz (Ed.), The phenomenology of the social world (pp. xv–xxix). Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  121. Watzlawick, P. (1984). The invented reality. How do we know what we believe we know? New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  122. Weber, M. 1947. The theory of social and economic organization. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  123. Wiley, N. F. (1985). Marriage and the construction of reality: Then and now. In G. Handel (Ed), The psychosocial interior of the family (pp. 21–32). New York: Aldine.Google Scholar
  124. Zimmerman, D. H., & Wieder, D. L. (1970). Ethnomethodology and the problem of order: Comment on Denzin. In J. D. Douglas (Ed.), Understanding everyday life (pp. 285–298). Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jaber F. Gubrium
    • 1
  • James A. Holstein
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of FloridaGainesville
  2. 2.Social and Cultural SciencesMarquette UniversityMilwaukee

Personalised recommendations