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Free «Ethnomethodology and the Problem of Order» Essay Sample

Harold Garfinkel was an innovative common sense sociologist who created his own fruitful but challenging common intellect and arcane self-restraints. The work of Mr. Garfinkel sought to show how members in a given society collaborate in an effort to create and shape a social order. Through this work, he developed a theory called ethnomethodology, which is a pool of shared knowledge and which shares intellectual actions to address the situation in which individuals in a society may find themselves (Garfinkel, 1967). He developed the theory in order to solve the conflict that was in existence in the sociological theory. This paper looks at the structure in which the problem of order making observations exists .

Parsons and other sociologists emphasized institutional orders and individual existence. They failed to explain social order and its eligibility. According to Garfinkel, both social and institutional orders exist and interact at the institutional setting of accountability.

Harold Garfinkel critically examined the formulation of the problem of order by Parsons. He criticized the order problem by Talcott Parson, claiming that the common intellect of rationality replaced the methodical rationality. Harold also believed that the principle of conduct will replace the level of de facto act. The problem of order is also known as the Hobbesian problem, which was discovered by Garfinkel via criticism. Instead, Garfinkel proposed the Rashomon problem, which is being solved through ethnomethodology (Garfinkel, 1967).


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Garfinkel ethnomethodology aimed at rejecting those values of social structure that favored practices of participation. As such, the main concepts of ethnomethodology refer to those forms of actions and not the social institutions. Indexicality and reflexivity, both combined, were referred by Garfinkel as accounting or documentary method (Garfinkel, 1967).

Ethno methodologists pursue to make general claims about the social nature based on its interaction. It is usually driven by particular motives that are theoretical and the ethno methodologist which use participation observation, research, case studies, and interviews.

Garfinkel assumed that the problem of order should not have arisen, since actors were basing their beliefs on methodical rationality. The actor would be said to be behaving not to the scientific norms but different form the rationality common intellect. According to Garfinkel, rationality is a thing that governs the theoretical boldness of how scientists contemplate the world (Heritage, 1984).

Garfinkel suggested the consideration of possibility of how identically important things at the level of premises of behavior are. Garfinkel considered that Parsons took for granted inter-subjective identically of things and that he was grounding his argument on the correspondence theory (Heritage, 1984).

According to Garfinkel, the intellectual breakthrough into key traditions has enabled human beings to explore their index capacity of language in the creation of a frame of social context. Reflexive activities in a society will continuously occur in the social interaction in order to structure and index the ongoing meaning and practices of linguistics (Garfinkel, 1967).

The understanding of Garfinkel was centered on those activities that were used in the creation and management of a set of organized daily affairs. Theses affairs are identical with the actions and make the setting responsible. The root of the understanding is the reflexive character of accounting practices and accounts. Accounts are those things that are similar to our understanding, whereas the members are those people who are involved as the subjects in accounts. The naval ordnance is used in the description of the accounting practices by the member. Reflexives are crucial, since they play a role in the understanding of indexicality, which is the situation (Heritage, 1984).

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Garfinkel had many ideas as for ethnomethodology where he suggested that there was need to specify rules and that they need to be interpreted in the actual world situations. He pointed out that rules were not very important, but what was even more important was the interpretation and application of the rules. He suggested that those rules needed to be applied in a manner that encouraged mutual negotiation (Heritage, 1984). Garfinkel suggested that human beings should endeavor to harmonize the resources that exist in the world, since the latters were an essential part of the human condition. Garfinkel disparately exposed the situations that required the assumption of common intellect for the promotion of social life.

Through the socialization process, people use symbols to describe their experiences which become internalized, forming a reality (Garfinkel, 1967). Ethnomethodology can, thus, be said to be that process that forms the foundation that is used in the labeling perspectives and symbols. It has paid attention to the glitches of social control and deviance. The social structures include groups, institutions, cultural systems, and status all of which are not a determinant of human behavior but rather an emerging property of human interaction. Social structure is significant but also very fragile, and it deserves attention from the sociologist dealing with deviance.

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Garfinkel, who was an ethno methodologist, featured and interpreted every day’s work in all the situations in connection to reflexivity and indexicality. Indexicality is a concept of work and is used by the ethno methodologists who focus their attention on particular situations that is a product of personal biography. In indexicality, the interpretation of work by human beings varies from the context in which the work occurs (Heritage, 1984).

Reflexivity expresses paradoxically the characteristics of human beings where objects happen in relation to their interpretive meaning to the people whom they behold. People are never independent of the way other people construct and express their understanding about them. Everything that normally happens is usually relative to everything and something else.

From indexicality and reflexivity, there is the central revelatory course where the deviant labels are produced and also applied. Through this, individuals will learn to become deviant and also view themselves as deviant in their behaviors. The major concept of reflexivity and indexicality is that human beings will fail to view or forget that through their work, realism is created.

According to Garfinkel, estimators will provide the retrospective justification for those decisions that have already been made. After arriving at a certain account of a given situation, human beings reflexively reconstruct their understanding of the processes for them to appear normal or natural (Garfinkel, 1967).

Deviance does not occur independently of the societal construction of the meaning that is centered towards the context of daily lives. It is the responsibility of ethno methodologists to form a foundation that will enable the understanding of labeling of deviant behaviors. They also have the responsibility for creating the categories that will be applied via the societal processes of negotiation and interpretation. When an individual is placed in a different category of deviance, the attributes and qualities become distorted or lost (Heritage, 1984). Their behaviors begin to represent the deviance category, and this, in turn, helps to explain the identity that was questioned.

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Ethnomethodology usually pursues ways that are used by members of the society in their daily interactions for them to achieve a sense of order. It always seeks to achieve order through the act of participation in their interaction. Through his work, Garfinkel adopted new and innovative research strategies that were used in the exploration of methods used by actors in their daily interaction in order to build and also sustain a sense of societal order (Garfinkel, 1967).

The work by Garfinkel was significant, since it developed the theories of social order, all of which are considered theoretically important (Garfinkel, 1967). Social order is particularly important in the understanding fundamentally the contributions of those studies to the contemporary theory of organization. Garfinkel stated and maintained that each and every act needs to display an order identifiable to other associates at a similar state for it to be significant (Heritage, 1984).


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