Methodological troubles as problems and phenomena: ethnomethodology and the question of 'method' in the social sciences
journal contributionposted on 29.06.2015, 15:08 by Christian Greiffenhagen, Michael Mair, Wes Sharrock
Across the disciplinary frontiers of the social sciences, studies by social scientists treating their own investigative practices as sites of empirical inquiry have proliferated. Most of these studies have been retrospective, historical, after‐the‐fact reconstructions of social scientific studies mixing interview data with the (predominantly textual) traces that investigations leave behind. Observational studies of in situ work in social science research are, however, relatively scarce. Ethnomethodology was an early and prominent attempt to treat social science methodology as a topic for sociological investigations and, in this paper, we draw out what we see as its distinctive contribution: namely, a focus on troubles as features of the in situ, practical accomplishment of method, in particular, the way that research outcomes are shaped by the local practices of investigators in response to the troubles they encounter along the way. Based on two case studies, we distinguish methodological troubles as problems and methodological troubles as phenomena to be studied, and suggest the latter orientation provides an alternate starting point for addressing social scientists’ investigative practices.
This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) (Grant no.: RES‐576‐25‐0022)
- Social Sciences
- Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies