Ethnomethodology's program: Working out Durkheim's aphorism
|Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. 2002.|
It is the working of the phenomenon that exhibits among its other details the population that staffs it. (p. 93)
Immortal, ordinary society is strange... It is only discoverable. It is not imaginable.(p. 96)
Herman's problem was to describe vehicular traffic in the Hudson Tunnel just in any actual case: Could the rate of flow be sufficiently increased so that another tunnel would not be needed? Herman's group found a recurrent reccord accordion wave and were able to demonstrate that its existence ... was productive of critical statistics of the traffic stream. The accordion wave p
rovided them with a very strong causal structure. It was their take on the probiem
that they needed to produce the wave in repeated actual instances of the wave's generically theorized essential features-the wave in general.
Speaking Ethnomethodologically ... their problem was NOT this. Any solution to this problem would lose the phenomenon. The problem was instead to produce the accordion wave just in any actual case. (p. 162)
Herman and his colleagues used elegant formal analytic procedures to record and analyze flow data. They were able to specify the traveling wave as a causal structure of the traffic stream's rate of flow. With it they could specify other consequential structures of the wave and the traffic stream. But they were not able to make the concertedly achieved phenomenon of traveling waves instructably reproducible in needed details. They could not find or specify the details they needed, "From the helicopter" (literally and figuratively) they could find and demonstrate the wave as a causal structure. Indeed they were best able to locate and demonstrate the accordion wave, being outside the stream, from the helicopter, with photographs taken from the helicopter. But they needed as well to make it instructably reproducible in and as its local, endogenollsly achieved, procedurally adequate, coherent details as a great recurrency of an in-course line of traffic. They had to do so in each next actual case, in each case for a next first time,21 just in any actual case. (p. 163)
3. Objective versus Occasioned Expressions
I want to call attention to several other properties. In situ the distinction is forever being attempted and made between objective and indexical expressions. On the living room floor I would be looking for just what on that page has a definite sense that is indifferent to the fact that it's on that page, let alone that on that page I come upon it on my living room floor. I would want something like the transcendentalized sense and reference of the instructions findable there. That sense which I would be looking for has nothing to do with me; it has nothing to do with the engineer who drew the dopey diagram. I'm looking for, I would he searching for, the clarity, and the consistency, the empirical truth and correctness, or any of the rest of the topics of logic, meaning, reason, order, or method, of these instructions generally speaking. I would be looking for a general method for making individual cases decidable for their adequacy on any of these counts, and such that the displayed particulars of this diagram are analyzable cases in the gen eral method's certain terms.
So, I have an in vivo job; one job of many; would I be able to? could I? assign to those fixed expressions a sense that was governed by rules of interpretation such that it could be distinguished in the notational particulars of that diagram from the sense that its locally occasioned character required that it be chained to?
In addition to the distinction between occasioned and objective expressions we called attention, early on, to the provision for the substitutability of objective for indexical expressions. We proposed to examine the lived work of what it was to insist on that substitutability. The proposal was found, characteristically in the natural sciences, but also in the social sciences, that wherever indexical expressions occurred an objective expression could be substituted for it without altering, degrading, or evading the transcendentalized sense and reference of the expression.
I'm proposing that on that living room floor was posed, but only as the possibility, that substitutability was a witnessably achievable proposal. I could not just in any actual case make the substitution and make it demonstrably the case that the ibstitution, having been provided for, had been achieved. So, here I was with the distinction, and having to provide for that distinction, and having also to provide for the substitutability, having to provide for it in the name of getting the chair assembled by five o'clock; and coming upon the obstinacy of this page of stuff that promised something I could not deliver in the work on that floor.
I. The In Vivo Properties of [Instructions]
I'll mention several more with the idea of finishing a recitation of what I'll call the properties that [instructions] have when, in vivo, we are busied topically with the practical issues of locally and endogenously achieved completeness, consistency, I ollowability, empirical correctness, univocality, definiteness of sense and reference, temporal and logical sequence, identity, notational uniformity, comparability, .end the rest, and carry out our concerns with the use of classic methods. I use he rubric "classic methods" to collect policies of natural theorizing, methods of constructive analysis, and the use of established theories of logic with which issues of questionable adequacy are made decidable and are decided for their "truth" and "correctness."
Maps and manuals have a marvelously incongruous property that users can come upon as cause for complaint. Thus some complaints to software hotlines can run: "I can't find what I'm doing wrong." "The manual doesn't discuss my problem." "I can't tell what the manual is talking about." And examples of offered remedies: "You can't tell just by reading, and it's practically impossible to tell you." "You have to have hands-on experience." "Don't just read the manual. Read it at he console while you're working out what it's talking about."
Complaints will go to the manual's incompleteness, ambiguity, equivocality, errors, mistakes, gaps, omissions, the recalcitrant teacher, sloppy craft, metaphoric description, lies, and the rest of endless whatnot.
Recurrently, in vivo, maps and manuals present their users the in vivo witnessed incompetence of the text. In vivo the manual offers a reader anything but just what is needed. The way the text fails you, just the thing that you want from it, which you must have, now, just here, just where you are in your project—of that trouble it is guaranteed that it will be there waiting for you, but there is no way in the world of prespecifying the conditions under which it is going to intrude upon your local island of order. That means that you have to be in the course of the action, and just there, just because, and just in the way you need more than anything in the world just this from the text, and it is in that, and in the way you want it and need it, that you cannot have it. (p. 205)
[Structure and constancies] are not to be found by introducing generic representations into the in vivo stream of practices. Instead, they are endogenously provided by the local parties who staff the achieved phenomenon. And because they are so provided for, they are somehow, by us, to be found, endogenously. (p. 209)
Starting with the local parties is also to start with particularities, culture in my sense. It is to start with artfulness and also artificiality (and arbitrariness). It is above all to start with deliberate effort to complete the task.
A fourth facet of the conjectured orderliness concerns the status of an orderliness of lecturing as an ignored orderliness ... Moreover the ignore-ance is a done ignore-ance. It consists of a positive phenomenon. (p. 222)
This must related to my observations while listening to a family conversation (1992) about the complex "dance" all participants were involved in as matters moved from backstage to frontstage and back again. In this vocabulary I could have said that what was being ignored shifted regularly, and often after calls for the reordering that suggest the availability of that-which-is-being-ignored for all. Achieved ignore-ance is not a state of mind, nor is it a state of the body: it is a position of the body.
This is an essential corrective to all assumptions about what happens within a particularly organized event that is not brought out to explicit mention during the event itself. This lack, in all poweful theories of cultural artificiality, has been interpreted as a lack of consciousness, if not of understanding. Garfinkel proposes here, against Bourdieu most recently, that to ignore a property of a cultural arbitrary is work by all concerned--but only during the event. The artificiality is available to comment equally to participants and researchers, but only during other events during which the pattern of what is to be mentioned vs. what is to be ignored has shifted.
"Immortal" means that at the work site, empirically observable and immediately, there is this about the order of service: It is assured by reason of the turnover of its personnel, who themselves arrange for the turnover in the place where the service is being delivered. We observe the immortality of the order of service has nothing whatsoever to do with ... theorized version of an ideal queue, "Given once and for all, it can last for ever." (p. 254)
could this be related to Radcliffe-Brown on social structure? One could then wonder whether the controversy between him and Levi-Strauss on the "reality" of the structure was really about two necessary emphasis during the process of social research: what we observe is real (available to observation to the analyst as well as the participant). The formalized description of properties (the "model") are also real but within a different "work site"--academia--and for the different purposes of first, maintaining academia, and second revealing it as that which it must be for the rest of the overall work site within which academia is but a small part.
This could also be related to Louis Dumont's similarly controversial statement that "a structure is or is not, it does not change" (reference?)
For a further exploration see my lecture notes on cultural facts.
... the order of service ... is exhibitedly prior to and independent of any method or lexical device that is used to describe it. (p. 254)
another echo of Levi-Strauss on models and the relationship of the events to the models native might have made for it, models which, Levi-Strauss suggests, actually belong to still another "work site" that is somewhat involved in preserving that which it models. Thus the models are evidence for the existence of other (immortal) work sites.
EM's emphasis on coherences of observable orderliness ... the properties that their recognition and intelligibility is immediate, direct, and unavoidable. These properties put an immediate premium and obvious usefulness on incongruity procedures. Organizational, characterological, bodily, interactional, trouble markers... To reveal incompetence, consider how frequently mothers in line carry or otherwise restrain their children. Consider also that once you get into line persons will not therein question that you have rightfully gotten into line unless you start screwing around. Then you get instructed. (p. 257)
the issue is not "incompetence," "screwing around," "resistance," and other noted displays of not doing what is expected--except to the issue that EM allows for all that which is sometimes covered by the term "agency" (knowledge, motivation, etc.). The issue is the recognition that one is in line and that one has started not doing that which displays activity as "standing in line." Then, one get instructed (noticed, labeled, punished, ...). The panopticon warden must notice, otherwise people will not do what they may also know the warden might notice--particularly given the possibility that the warden may screw around within his own world, and not notice.