Special Issue ‘The Senses in Social Interaction’ edited by Will Gibson (@Willjimgibson) and Dirk vom Lehn (@dirkvl) published in Symbolic Interaction (@sociologylens) #sssi #emca #senses #interaction

Announcement, interaction, interactionism, Senses

Symbolic Interaction (@sijournal) has just published our Special Issue on ‘The Senses in Social Interaction’ (Vol.44(1)). The Table of Contents is below.

Will Gibson and Dirk vom Lehn – Introduction: The Senses in Social Interaction [Open Access] https://doi.org/10.1002/symb.539

Danielle Pillet-Shore – “When to Make the Sensory Social: Registering in Face‐to‐Face Openings” https://doi.org/10.1002/symb.481 (with video abstract)

Giolo Fele and Ken Liberman – “Some Discovered Practices of Lay Coffee Drinkershttps://doi.org/10.1002/symb.486

Lorenza Mondada – “Orchestrating Multi‐sensoriality in Tasting Sessions: Sensing Bodies, Normativity, and Languagehttps://doi.org/10.1002/symb.472

Sally Wiggins and Leelo Keevallik – “Enacting Gustatory Pleasure on Behalf of Another: The Multimodal Coordination of Infant Tasting Practices” https://doi.org/10.1002/symb.527

Francesca Astrid Salvadori and Giampietro Gobo – “Sensing the Bike: Creating a Collaborative Unerstanding of a Multi-Sensorial Experience in MotoGP Racinghttps://doi.org/10.1002/symb.529

Brian Due – Distributed Perception: Co‐Operation between Sense‐Able, Actionable, and Accountable Semiotic Agents https://doi.org/10.1002/symb.538

Sylvie Grosjean, Frederik Matte and Isaac Nahon-Serfaty – “Sensory Ordering” in Nurses’ Clinical Decision‐Making: Making Visible Senses, Sensing, and “Sensory Work” in the Hospitalhttps://doi.org/10.1002/symb.490

David Matthew Edmonds and Christian Greiffenhagen – “Configuring Prospective Sensations: Experimenters Preparing Participants for What They Might Feel” https://doi.org/10.1002/symb.485

Eduardo de la Fuente and Michael James Walsh – “Framing Atmospheres: Goffman, Space, and Music in Everyday Lifehttps://doi.org/10.1002/symb.506

Book Reviews

Brigitte Biehl – “Atmospheres always open to change” – Review of ‘Atmospheres and the Experiential World: Theory and Methods’ By Sumartojo, Shanti and Pink, Sarah ( Routledge, 2019) – https://doi.org/10.1002/symb.507

Don Everhart- “Phenomenology, Ethnomethodology, and Intercorporeality” Review of ‘Intercorporeality: Emerging Socialities in Interaction’ edited by Christian Meyer, Juergen Streeck, and J. Scott Jordan (OUP, 2019) https://doi.org/10.1002/symb.523

Jessica S. Robles – “Contact: Pushing the Boundaries of Touch‐in‐Interaction” – Review of ‘Touch in Social Interaction: Touch, Language, and Body’ edited by Asta Cekaite and Lorenza Mondada (Routledge, 2019) https://doi.org/10.1002/symb.524

Jeffrey van den Scott – “Loud, Fast, and Hard: Changing Identities in a Musical Subculture” – Review of ‘Psychobilly: Subcultural Survival’ By Kimberly Kattari (Temple University Press, 2020) https://doi.org/10.1002/symb.522

James Fletcher – “Finding Order through Disorder: Dementia as a Reflection of Social Organization” – Review of ‘Forgetting Items: The Social Experience of Alzheimer’s Disease’ By Baptiste Brossard (Indiana University Press, 2019).

Chris Land – “An Oasis of Beer in the Desert of the Real?” – Review of ‘Vegas Brews: Craft Beer and the Birth of a Local Scene’ by Borer, Michael Ian (NYU, 2019)https://doi.org/10.1002/symb.512

Judson G. Everitt – “Emotions, Interactions, and Institutions in Preschool Teaching” – Review of ‘Between Teaching and Caring in the Preschool: Talk, Interaction, and the Preschool Teacher Identity‘ by John C. Pruit https://doi.org/10.1002/symb.487

Philippe Sormani – “Reflexive Ethnography as “Data Science”? A Sociological Contribution to Praxeology” – Review of ‘Daten‐Karrieren und epistemische Materialität: Eine wissenschaftssoziologische Studie zur methodologischen Praxis der Ethnografie By Meier zu Verl, Christian ( J. B. Metzler Verlag, 2018) https://doi.org/10.1002/symb.488

Noreen M. Sugrue – “Evolutionary Explanation Meets Social Reality” – Review of ‘Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society’ by Nicolas Christakis (Little Brown Spark, 2019). https://doi.org/10.1002/symb.483

SSSI 2019 – Thematic Panel: “Symbolic Interactionism and the Resurgent Interest in Organization and Management” #sociology #sssi #organizationstudies #management

Announcement, interaction, interactionism

At this year’s conference of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction Patrick McGinty (Western Illinois University) and I will organise a Thematic Panel titled “Symbolic Interactionism and the Resurgent Interest in Organization and Management”.

The panel has been motivated by recent publications on the influence of interactionist research on and contribution to management and organisation studies. These publication have highlighted the curious mutual disregard of interactionism and organisational analysis and management studies. This panel will bring together interactionist scholarship that over recent years has undertaken considerable efforts in bringing the debates in these areas together and pushing forward the interactionist research of management and organization, both through theorizing and research.

More details on the panel’s speakers and presentations have been published in the SSSI 2019 Programme.


Relevant References

Dingwall, Robert, and Phil M Strong. “The Interactional Study of Organizations.” Journal Of Contemporary Ethnography14, no. 2 (1985): 205–31.
Fine, Gary Alan. “Justifying Work: Occupational Rhetorics as Resources in Restaurant Kitchens.” Administrative Science Quarterly41, no. 1 (1996): 90–115.
Gibson, Will, and Dirk vom Lehn. Institutions, Interaction and Social Theory. Oxford: Palgrave, 2017.
Grills, Scott, and Robert Prus. “Management Motifs: An Interactionist Approach for the Study of Organizational Interchange. New York: Springer. 2018.

Harrington, Brooke. Capital without Borders : Wealth Managers and the One Percent. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016.

Hallett, Tim, and Marc Ventresca. “Inhabited Institutions: Social Interactions and Organizational Forms in Gouldner’s Patterns of Industrial Bureaucracy.” Theory and Society35, no. 2 (April 2006): 213–36. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11186-006-9003-z.

McGinty, Patrick J. W. “Divided and Drifting: Interactionism and the Neglect of Social Organizational Analyses in Organization Studies: The Neglect of Social Organizational Analyses.” Symbolic Interaction37, no. 2 (May 2014): 155–86. https://doi.org/10.1002/symb.101.

Norris, Dawn R. Job Loss, Identity, and Mental Health. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2016.
Sapir, Adi, and Nahoko Kameo. “Rethinking Loose Coupling of Rules and Entrepreneurial Practices among University Scientists: A Japan–Israel Comparison.” The Journal of Technology Transfer44, no. 1 (February 2019): 49–72. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10961-017-9596-6
Watson, Patrick G. “‘Common Sense Geography’ and the Elected Official: Technical Evidence and Conceptions of ‘Trust’ in Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway Decision.” Canadian Journal of Sociology43, no. 1 (March 31, 2018): 49–76. https://doi.org/10.29173/cjs27058.

Garfinkel, Ethnomethodology and Studies of Interaction #emca #sociology #interactionism https://doi.org/10.1007/s10746-019-09496-5

Ethnomethodology, Garfinkel, interaction, Phenomenology, Schutz, sociology

vom Lehn, D. (2019). From Garfinkels’ ‘Experiments in Miniature’ to the Ethnomethodological Analysis of Interaction. Human Studies, 42(2), 305-326. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10746-019-09496-5


#Garfinkel #ethnomethodology #sociology #interaction #interactionism

Ethnomethodologische Interaktionsanalyse #EMCA

Ethnomethodology, experience, Garfinkel, Goffman, interaction, Videoanalysis

In den vergangenen 10 Jahren sind verschiedene Texte zur Analyse von Interaktion erschienen, in deren Zentrum Videoaufnahmen als Daten stehen. Von besonderer Bedeutung sind in diesem Zusammenhang Texte, die sich auf die Ethnomethodologie und Konversationsanalyse stützen. “Ethnomethodologische Interaktionsanalyse” schließt hier und an mein Buch zu Harold Garfinkel an, in dem ich die Entwicklung der Ethnomethodologie als besondere soziologische Einstellung nachzeichne.


Ethnomethodologische Interaktionsanalyse” bettet die Analyse von Interaktion auf Basis von Videoaufnahmen in den Kontext der Entwicklung der Ethnomethodologie ein und führt die Analyse am Beispiel von Daten, die ich in den Untersuchungsräumen von Optometrikern aufgezeichnet habe, vor. Dabei gehe ich auf Praktikalitäten der Datenerhebung und -analyse und die Transkription von Videodaten ein. Anschließend wendet sich das Buch der Darstellung von Analysebefunden in Live-Präsentationen und in Texten zu. Das Buch ist in der Serie ‘Standards standardisierter und nicht-standardisierter Sozialforschung’, die von Nicole Burzan, Ronald Hitzler und Paul Eisewicht herausgeben wird, bei Beltz/Juventa erschienen. “Ethnomethodologische Interaktionsanalyse” ist als Kindle-Buch und vom 20. August 2018 auch in der gedruckten Version erhältlich.

Everyday Aesthetics, Practical Aesthetics

aesthetics, art, interaction, lifestyle, taste

In sociology and in particular interactionist approaches there has recently been lot of interest in ‘everyday aesthetics’ and ‘practical aesthetics’. At the Participations 2015 conference in Basel in June a panel was organised by Saul Albert and Yaël Kreplak that explored how aesthetics and aesthetic judgement feature in dance (Saul Albert @saul; Leelo Keevallik), in the camera-work in TV productions (Mathias Broth), in the installation of art works (Yaël Kreplak) and in the performing arts (Darren Reed). Save for the panel at the Participations conference, there have been various publications that play into these debates: about a decade ago Christian Heath and I published “Configuring Reception”, a paper that introduced “practical aesthetics” as a practice through which people in everyday situations like museum visits produce situations in which they see and make sense of works of art and constitute them as aesthetic objects. Most recently, Lucia Ruggerone and Neil Jenkings published a paper in Symbolic Interaction “Talking about Beauty” in Symbolic Interaction where they examine participants self-reported aesthetic appreciations in relationship to their life-style.

Museum Visiting: Slowing Down and the Experience of Art

exhibitions, experience, interaction, museums

There is a renewed interest in museum visiting and the practices of doing so. Only this weekend (October 9th, 2014), Stephanie Rosenbloom published an article in the New York Times that explores “The Art of Slowing Down in a Museum“. Rosenbloom refers to Daniel Fujiwara’s (now Director at SImetrica) study of the impact of museum visiting on people’s enjoyment of life as well as on James O. Pawelski’s work in the area of positive psychology. All these studies are of great interest and very helpful in highlighting the impact of the arts on people’s lives. It would be great if such research that is primarily interested in measuring impact and focuses on individuals as experiencing subjects, would include also the influence of the presence of other visitors in museums, both companions and others. It would seem that in order to follow the arguments and suggestions on how to organise a museum visit would require prior negotiation with those we are with in a museum. Statistics of museum visiting clearly show that people not only primarily come with others to museums but also that one main reason for the visit is socialising and interacting with others, whereby works of art (and other exhibits) providing hubs for concerted activities.

Considering that Pawelski, Fujiwara and others show that spending more time with a work of art increases feelings of happiness and satisfaction and that people enjoy interacting with others in museums, exploring how we can facilitate sustained social activities around works of art and other exhibits in museums seems to be an obvious avenue to pursue.


Relevant Literature

Heath, vom Lehn. (2004) Configuring Reception. Theory, Culture and Society Vol21(6): 43-65

Heath, Luff, vom Lehn, Hindmarsh, Cleverly. (2002) Crafting Participation. Visual Communication. Vol1(1): 1-33

Hindmarsh, Heath, vom Lehn, Cleverly. (2002) Creating Assemblies in Public Environment. CSCW Journal Vol.14(1): 1-41

Leinhardt, Crowley, Knutson 2002. Learning Conversations in Museums. Routledge

vom Lehn, Heath 2005. Accounting for Technology in Museums. International Journal of Arts Management Vol7(3): 11-21

vom Lehn, Heath, Hindmarsh 2001. Exhibiting Interaction: conduct and collaboration in museums. Symbolic Interaction. Vol.24(2): 189-216

Street-market interaction and pricing #sssi #marketing

interaction, markets, Price, Videoanalysis

Despite the long-time talk about the demise of the street-market as an inefficient place to make money street-markets, flea-markets and car-boot sales are booming. People seem to have discovered these places not only as markets to buy and sell objects but also as places for leisure activities. In London and other big cities street-markets have become major tourist attractions. In recent years, they have been redeveloped to increase their attractiveness and possibly also to give them a more trustworthy, clean and orderly look. Moreover, they often are equipped with surveillance cameras and security staff who police trading and behaviour more generally. Yet, what has remained largely the same over the past years is that sales are produced in interaction between traders and customers, people who first show an interest in a particular stall or sales item and then make a purchase, or sometimes leave without buying anything. “Price” and”price information” plays a particular part in the interaction between traders and their customers. In “Timing is money” I consider pricing not so much as a process of calculation for the participant to get the best value out of the interaction, although this may play a part in this as well, but as a communicative practice that traders and customers deploy in the interaction. The paper examines the moment when and the way in which traders and customers use “price” in their interaction, e.g. when do they use price in an offer or request of a sales item? It turns out that price is often deployed as a technique to manage the ‘floor’ and the interaction at the stall. For example, when customers display an interest in an item but are not yet committed to buying an item offers, including price information, are designed in a particular way that encourage the customers to commit to make a purchase.

The paper uses “focused ethnography” as a research method. Alongside other recent developments in ethnography, such as “short-term ethnography” (Pink and Morgan 2013) Hubert Knoblauch developed “focused ethnography” (2005) an observational research methods that often supported by video-recordings examines in detail particular settings and activities while spending only relatively short periods of time there.


Knoblauch, Hubert (2005). Focused Ethnography [30 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research6(3), Art. 44, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0503440.

Llewellyn, N. and Burrow, R.. (2008) Streetwise sales and the social order of city streets British Journal Of Sociology 59: 561-583.

Pink, Sarah & Morgan, Jennie (2013). Short-term Ethnography. Symbolic Interaction Vol.36(3) 351-361

vom Lehn, Dirk (2013). Timing is Money: managing the floor in sales interaction at street-market stalls. Journal of Marketing Management. (Early View)

Museum Experience: individual or social?

exhibitions, interaction, interactivity, mobility, museums

I have just come back from a workshop at a museum where we discussed the use of labels and mobile systems, PDAs, Audioguides, or mobile phones to support or even enhance people’s experience of exhibits and exhibitions. As in other museums, the managers and curators still largely think of abele and electronic systems as information sources for individual visitors. Hence, information is written or recorded for an individual visitor to retrieve. This is somewhat surprising for a number of reasons, including the observation of the same managers and curators that devices and systems like movie phones, touch-screen systems, PDAs and Audioguides encourage people to spend more time with the systems than with with exhibits. When managers and curators report their observations in exhibitions they talk about visitors reading labels and looking at the screens of digital systems for considerable time whilst spending considerably less, sometimes no, time with the works of art hung along the gallery wall.

Research conducted over the past 20 or 30 years confirms the observations by these managers and curators about the distracting impact of information sources in museums. Together with recent research in the learning and cognitive science also suggests that if one wishes to enhance people’s experience of and learning in exhibition that there is not a need for more or more complex information sources and system but for information delivered in a way that encourages social interaction and discussion between people. Quasi-experimental studies and naturalistic, video-based studies of visitors’ interaction in museums suggests that it is not only the design of systems, i.e. the small screens and interfaces that undermine social interaction but also the content and the structure of the content delivered by labels and electronic systems. What would be required are naturalistic experiments with label content and the content of audio-guides that through questions, references to exhibit features and maybe game-like activities that involve more than one visitor in concerted and collaborative forms of looking, examination and experience.

If anybody has seen examples like this, please let me know.

Relevant Literature

Heath, vom Lehn. (2004) Configuring Reception. Theory, Culture and Society Vol21(6): 43-65

Heath, Luff, vom Lehn, Hindmarsh, Cleverly. (2002) Crafting Participation. Visual Communication. Vol1(1): 1-33

Hindmarsh, Heath, vom Lehn, Cleverly. (2002) Creating Assemblies in Public Environment. CSCW Journal Vol.14(1): 1-41

Leinhardt, Crowley, Knutson 2002. Learning Conversations in Museums. Routledge

vom Lehn, Heath 2005. Accounting for Technology in Museums. International Journal of Arts Management Vol7(3): 11-21

Aspects of the Subjective Refraction Test (better/worse] #optometry

analysis, Ethnomethodology, interaction, Syllabus, symbolic interactionism, Videoanalysis

Over the past few years, together with comments at the Work, Interaction & Technology Research Centre (Christian Heath and Helena Webb) at KCL, Will Gibson at the Institute of Education and the optometrists Bruce EvansDavid Thomson and Peter Allen I worked on research and knowledge exchange projects exploring the practical work of optometrists and developing communications training material. some of the research now has been written up and a few months ago a paper “Engendering Response: Professional Gesture and the Assessment of Eye Sight in Optometry Consultations” was published in Symbolic Interaction. This paper focuses on a particular procedure, the so-called Subjective Refraction that involves optometrist and patient in a sequence of interaction through which some of the characteristics of any corrective lens the patient might need, are determined. Some may recognise the test as the better/worse test as it is characterised by a procedure during which the optometrist alternates a patient’s vision by placing a lens in front of their eye as asking, “better with or without”. Our study here was particularly interested in the practice of placing the lens in front of the patient’s eye, a practice that we described as “professional gesture”. Although not specifically taught in optometric training the optometrists in our research deployed the lens by moving it in a particular way in front of the patient’s eye. The gestural movement of the lens in front of the patient’s eye followed almost exactly the same route through the air in all consultations that we filmed.  Our analysis reveals that such a carefully designed gesture is required for the optometrist to be able to arrive at reliable and robust data about the patient’s sight. They need the patient to respond to a series of different stimuli presented in front of them without reflecting about it.

Here is a video-abstract on the YouTube channel of Symbolic Interaction in which the lead author of the paper, Helena Webb, discusses the content of the paper and shows the gesture.




New Book: “”Harold Garfinkel: The Creation and Development of Ethnomethodology” Left Coast Press

Ethnomethodology, Garfinkel, interaction

A bit of self-advertisement… in May my book “Harold Garfinkel: The Creation and Development of Ethnomethodology” was published by Left Coast Press. The book discusses Garfinkel’s creation of ethnomethodology, its anticipation of and important influence on a range of contemporary developments in sociology, including the sociology of science and technology, the new sociology of knowledge, the sociology of work, gender studies and others.

The book is based on and expands the German version published by UVK Verlagsgesellschaft in 2012.

Harold Garfinkel: The Creation and Development of Ethnomethodology (Left Coast Press.)