analysis, social organization, classroom talk

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Linking micro and macro

I have several days to produce a conference paper which will address this theme:

To this end, I've been doing some refresher reading about ethnomethdology's position on the macro-micro debate. I will use this reading to just produce a small section that will address the theme, without being too confrontational about ethnomethodology.

I started with:
Hilbert, R. A. (1990). Ethnomethodology and the micro-macro order. American Sociological Review, 55, 794-808.

As I read through, I noted points that could usefully be incorporated into the small section in my paper. I will note some of these here.

1. On ethnomethodological indifference

" ... ethnomethodologists cannot truly participate in the debate, for it does not subsribe to its presmises; in that sense ethnomethodology  transcends the micro-macro debate by transcending its terms. That is, ethnomethodologists have repeatedly announced their suspension of belief in social structural phenomena per se as objects of theoretical inquiry" (Hilbert, 1990, p. 795)

Accordingly, ethnomethodology seeks to "not to legitimate one level of structure at the expense of others, but rather to examine social practies whereby structure structure is made to happen, made to appear - i.e. accomplished by and for members of society" (Hilbert, 1990, p. 795).

"To adopt an ethnomethodological perspective is to leave the question of social structure entirely behind, neither denying nor affirming the existence of structure but abandoning it as a topic of investigation in favour of another topic: social pratices, also known as "members' methods" or ethnomethods." (Hilbert, 1990, p. 795)

2. On ethnomethods or social practices

"the distinction between micro- and macrostructure is not an ethnomethodological distinction. For ethnomethodology, the proper distinction is between structure on the one hand and its artful production on the other, where the latter is the topic of investigation" (Hilbert, 1990, p. 796)

Social structures "are produced from within the settings they supposedly regulate. The fact that members may experience their force as originating elsewhere, for example from an independent structural or prescriptive order, or the fact that members may experience mutually accomplished constraint as an independent force exercising itself on members collectively, attest to the artfullness of their techniques" (Hilbert, 1990, p. 796)

3 Sources of misconceptions about ethnomethodology as microsociological
These include: conflation of some microsociologies with ethnomethodological perspectives during 1960a; ethnomethodological indifference incorrectly interpreted as "denial of structure" (Hilbert, 1990, 797) with a consequence focus on the individual; focus on the local misconstuing of of ethnomethodology's focys on empirical phenomena (p. 797) -"this emphasis on the concetrete and local should not be confused with a preoccupation with microstructure" (Hilbert, 1990, p. 797).

4. Conversation analysis and microsociology
"conversation analysts are not concerned wtih with their data because they are "micto", but because they are undeniably, empirically, present" (p. 798)

5 Schegloff's position (according to Hilbert)
"whatever might otherwise be misconstrued as the macro-contexts of conversation should show up empirically as charactreized within the very conversation in question" (Hilbert, 1990, p. 800)

Schegloff, E. (1987). Between micro and macro: Contexts and other connection. In J. C. Alexander, B. Glieson, R. Munch and N. J. Smelser (Eds.), The micro=macro link (pp. 207-234). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

6. A radical thesis
This is that the empirical phenomena of conversation analysts and non-empirical structural phenomena are "the same phenomena" (Hilbert, 1990, 801)

Here Hilbert refers to the overlay of culture on social practices.

"cultural content in terms of whatever members take to be "the real world" provides an overlay for experiencing concrete social practices that are exterior to and constrain participation in these very practices, features of these practices attributed by members to objective reality" (p. 801).

"ethnomethodology is concerned with concrete empirical social practices wherein both macro- and microstructures and their interrelations are produced, reproduced, used, and managed. These practices are known by their empirical features, being visible, recordable, and subject to inspection. HTeir features are not theoretically deduced but known by inspection and discovery. Their deployment by members in the production of macro-order necessasrily entails the production of its exemplars; hence there is no distinction for ethnomethodologists to make between micro-structure and macrostructure as they are simulataneously generated. Social practices occur in real-time and real-space and are distributed, i.e., "linked' sequentially and biographically in empirial space-time" (Hilbert, 1990, p. 805)