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The radicalism of ethnomethodologyAn assessment of sources and principles$
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Martyn Hammersley

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781526124623

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526124623.001.0001

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Garfinkel and Goffman via Simmel: parallels and divergences

Garfinkel and Goffman via Simmel: parallels and divergences

(p.46) 2 Garfinkel and Goffman via Simmel: parallels and divergences
The radicalism of ethnomethodology

Martyn Hammersley

Manchester University Press

This chapter compares the orientations of Garfinkel and Goffman. Their work is often regarded as similar, being concerned with the study of mundane patterns of social interaction. However, ethnomethodologists usually insist that there are fundamental differences between them. Their orientations are examined via a comparison with the work of a third sociologist, Georg Simmel, who was an important influence upon Goffman. While Garfinkel does not seem to have drawn on Simmel’s work, there are interesting parallels: in particular, they share a concern with the constitutive role that social interaction plays in social life. It is argued that, despite similarities between the orientations of Garfinkel and Goffman, the differences are more significant. For Goffman, the aim is to generate conceptual frameworks that illuminate everyday behavior, whereas ethnomethodologists resist the bringing in of new concepts, being concerned instead with explicating the processes by which social phenomena are produced in their own terms. Other differences relate to what is taken to be the context of social interaction, with Goffman treating the interaction order as mediating the effects of outside factors, whereas ethnomethodologists insist that the context of any process of social interaction can only be what is constituted as context within it.

Keywords:   Garfinkel, Goffman, Simmel, Constitutive role of social interaction, Conceptualising context

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