The introduction to “Introduction to “The Routledge International Handbook of Interactionism” edited by Dirk vom Lehn, Natalia Ruiz-Junco, and Will Gibson (2021) can be downloaded below.
We have just published an article based on Victoria Rodner’s excellent PhD thesis in the Academy of Management Journal (AMJ). Drawing on longitudinal ethnographic and interview data the article explore how space is leveraged in institutional work, our study foregrounds the socio-political nature of space, building on and expanding the theorization of Lefebvre.
The article can be downloaded by clicking the link below:
by Victoria Rodner (@VictoriaLRodner), Thomas Roulet (@thomroulet), Finola Kerrigan (@finolak) and Dirk vom Lehn (@dirkvl)
The physical and material aspects of space, such as geographical distance or boundaries, have social and symbolic consequences that impact how people influence and are influenced by institutions. Social actors can however contest how space is conceived, perceived and lived, thus making space a crucial lever in the disruption and defense of institutions. However, we lack understanding of the spatial aspects of such institutional struggles. In exploring how space is leveraged in institutional work, our study foregrounds the socio-political nature of space, building on and expanding the theorization of Lefebvre. We draw on an in-depth longitudinal analysis of the material, social and symbolic aspects of the spatial dimensions of disruptive and defensive institutional work over the past twenty years in Venezuela’s art world. Following the Bolivarian Revolution in the late 1990s, the incoming government transformed the organization of the national cultural landscape, resulting in a prolonged period of institutional disruption and defense. We demonstrate that actors use the material, social, and symbolic dimensions of space to challenge and maintain their key values and practices, and that those three dimensions are intertwined.
Institutional theory, Emerging economies, Policy environment, International Management, Ethnography, Interviews
At the SSSI 2019 in NYC, Patrick McGinty and I organized two panels on “Symbolic Interactionism and the Resurgent Interest in Organization and Management”.
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
This is a post reblogged from the blog of the journal Symbolic Interaction, the official journal of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction.
Over the past few years, there has been plenty of discussion about artificial intelligence. Numerous books have been published on the topic and the newspapers and broadcast media are brimful with publications on how our world will be changed by ‘AI’. The discussions reach from novel ‘intelligent’ devices in the home and self-driving cars to ‘intelligent machines’ and ‘robots’ that are said to replace people in many workplaces. These growing debates are related to activities by governments to prioritize ‘AI’ for example “to create a national defence strategy” (NYT) and “to boost investment and set ethical guidelines” (European Commission 2018).
Symbolic Interactionism with its long-standing concern with the mind and cognition has plenty to contribute to these discussions and developments. Since Mead’s (1934) “Mind, Self and Society“, if not earlier, (symbolic) interactionists have explored the reflexive relationship between action and cognition. Some of this…
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Together with Saul Albert I am currently working on video-data collected at Lindy Hop Dance workshops for beginners. Our interest is in the nexus between the body and the social, that for long have been kept separated in sociology. In July 2017 we presented a paper titled ‘Beginning to Dance: methods of mutual coordination between novice dancers‘ at the Joint Action Meeting (JAM) held at Queen Mary’s University London. The paper explores how novice dancers are able to make a first step in step with a dance partner, with the rhythm of the music and with the other dancers. Analytically and methodologically the paper draws on ethnomethodology and conversation analysis and the more recent development of video-analysis of interaction (Heath, Hindmarsh & Luff 2010) as well as from the fabulous analysis of Lindy Hop dance lessons by Leelo Keevalik.
Further information information about the project is on Saul’s website on Dance as Interaction.
- Albert, S. (2015) Rhythmical coordination of performers and audience in partner dance: delineating improvised and choreographed interaction. Etnografia e Ricerca Qualitativa 3/2015, 399-428. doi: 10.3240/81723
- Albert, S. (2017, September). Assessments in the service of rhythmical closings. Presented at the 7th Language and Social Interaction (LANSI) Working Group Meeting, New York.
- Albert, S. & Vom Lehn, D. (2017, July). Beginning to dance: methods of mutual coordination between novice dancers. Presented at the 7th Joint Action Meeting, London, UK.
- Albert, S. (2015, November). Joint improvisation, choreography and social action in a musical partner dance performance. Paper presented at The Science of Joint Improvisation Meeting, CNRS, Paris.
- Albert, S. (2015, June). Dancing through time and space. Paper presented at Revisiting Participation: Language and Bodies in Interaction, Basel.
- Albert, S. (2014, June). Interactional resources and their use in learning the Lindy Hop. Paper presented at the 6th Ethnography and Qualitative Research Conference, Bergamo.
- Albert, S. (2014, June). Interactional choreography. Paper presented at the 1st EMCA Doctoral Network Meeting, Edinburgh.
There is a lot of public and academic discussion about “Selfies” at the moment. When we uncritically follow some of this debate we could believe it is an entirely new phenomenon created by mobile phones equipped with cameras, and maybe selfie-sticks. Jill Walker Rettberg has written an insightful analysis of the ‘selfie-phenomenon’ that situates the photographic selfies we are all familiar with, within the wider social and historic context of past and present technologies and techniques used to create representations of the self, including self-portraits, auto-biographies, and more recently quantified modes of self-logs and activity trackers.
Having situated “Selfies” Walker Rettberg moves on to discuss how “filters” are being used and create distinct version of self-representations. These filters can be technological, such as Instagram filters, or cultural. Whilst the former can be deployed to create images of our selves that show us how we want to be seen by others, the latter are those filters we deploy in response to the socio-cultural environment we inhabit; they guide for example the section of images that we create, collect and display.
A “Selfie” rarely occurs in isolation but often are produced in a series. By examining series of selfies, such as changes of profile pictures over time Walker Rettberg can show how the way in which people present themselves over time changes. As in previous chapters Walker Rettberg manages to link her analysis with knowledge about art history and art theory.
The emergence of Selfies is closely linked to the growing trend of tracking applications and logs. Walker Rettberg illuminates this linkage between these two phenomena and explicates the growing automation of the tracking and its relationship to the earlier discussion about filters. One strength of this chapter is the elaboration of this relationship between, for example the quantified self, the use of automation in the data collection and analysis and the filtering of information in the process. Walker Rettberg further elaborates on the quantified self movement in a separate chapter.
All the developments Walker Rettberg examines and discusses in her book throw in the open issues of surveillance and privacy that every now and again create a media hysteria without being properly dealt with. In her final chapter Walker Rettberg explicates some of the privacy issues related to selfies and possible consequences of the self-logging for people.
Overall, the book provides a very good analysis of the Selfie phenomenon and offers plenty of food for thought on possible further research on related phenomena, such as quantification of the self, automation etc.
Two or three years ago, I met Gary Alan Fine, the ethnographer and sociologist who wrote such wonderful books on restaurant kitchens, young orators in high school debating societies, mushroom collectors and many more. We came to talk about varieties of ethnography and one of its German variations: “Phenomenology-based Ethnography”. This form of ethnography pervades German qualitative sociology but is less well-known in Anglo-Saxon sociology. It has been developed by the late Anne Honer and Ronald Hitzler together with other German sociologists and ethnographers of whom a good number studied with Thomas Luckmann, the famous student of Alfred Schutz, at the University of Konstanz (Germany). Gary Fine wondered whether it was possible to put together a Special Issue and encouraged me to approach the editor of the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Charles Edgley, with the idea. With the wonderful support of Charles Edgley this Special Issue edited by myself and Ronald Hitzler, has now been produced and is in the process of being published, first on OnlineFirst of JCE.
Journal of Contemporary Ethnography – Special Issue: Phenomenology-based Ethnography
The article provides the background and rationale for the Special Issue. It explains the origins of phenomenology-based ethnography in Alfred Schutz’s analysis of the life-world and points to some recent development in this approach that is of particular importance in sociology in German-speaking countries. It finishes with a brief introduction to the articles of the issue.
Life-world-analytical ethnography aims to investigate the subjective perspective—the life-worlds—of other people. Life-world-analytical ethnography is based on the premise that any world which is not apprehended as a life-world—that is, as the totality of a world that is subjectively experienced—is a fiction. For we do not, in fact, have any knowledge of a world that is not subjectively experienced—of the world per se, as it were. The investigation of one’s own life-world is a difficult program in itself, a program that mundane phenomenology, in particular, endeavors to pursue. However, the investigation of the life-worlds of other actors calls for numerous additional precautions and measures. This article discusses the origins and foundations as well as particular challenges of life-world-analytical ethnography.
Regarding the relationship between phenomenology and the social sciences, significantly different traditions exist between German-speaking countries and the Anglo-Saxon world, which create many misunderstandings. Phenomenology is not just a research method; in its origin, it is a philosophy and has epistemological and methodological implications for empirical research. This essay pursues several goals: First, some basic tenets of Husserl’s phenomenology and Schutz’s mundane life-world analysis are restated. Second, an approach of “phenomenological hermeneutics” is presented that complies with the postulate of adequacy and aspires to understand other people’s life-worlds more profoundly than the widely accepted research practice of treating interview transcripts as data. The methodical procedure is illustrated using selected pieces from a case study of a patient who suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and became severely disoriented. Third, some crucial implications of such an approach are discussed in regard to a phenomenology-based ethnography.
This article compares two variations of bodily practices and bodily-grounded orientations and systems of relevance: the blind and the sighted life-worlds. Blindness is conceptualized as a particular style of perception being in no way a deficit but on equal footing with sight. Comparison will show differences and commonalities that may give a deeper insight into how bodily and sensory orientation and practice work in a mundane situation. This situation is feeding behavior and in particular its failure in “Chewing Accidents” focusing on three variations: tongue biting, swallowing a wasp, and biting on a cherry pit. Data are taken from participant observation, focused interviews, and online sources such as blogs and medical forums. By virtue of a detailed phenomenological description of chewing behavior, the article shows that blindness is not the contradiction of sight and vice versa. Invisibility is an element of the everyday life-world, with the latter being dependent on dark areas.
Participation in phenomenology-based ethnography is about involvement and “doing-it-yourself,” which generates data derived from immediate experience that can contribute to the reconstruction of the internal viewpoint by uncovering the essence of a phenomenon. This phenomenological orientation is the main focus of interest of the present paper. Based on reflections on the ethnographer as a participant who voluntarily assumes the role of the stranger, we demonstrate how observation can be supplemented with participation. We exemplify it with an ongoing research project on the deployment of a so-called social robot in dementia care. Our aim is to show that a subjective perspective, which does not claim to be superior but rather to be of value in its own right, increases the knowledge yield.
This article analyses the participation of migrants in sport. Based on the case study of a Turkish soccer club in Germany, it scrutinizes the structural and processual features of ethnic self organization. The club responds to the problems of social order in modern complex societies—problems emanating from the pluralization of social life-worlds—by employing a number of characteristic answers. Among them are the segmentation into sub-worlds, the composition of an integrative ideology of friendship as well as the creation of a soccer style. In processes of legitimation and delegitimation, questions of belonging and recognition are being negotiated. All of this allows for the management of ambivalence in everyday life and contributes to the distinctively posttraditional character of community. The article suggests that a sociology of social worlds approach can substantially contribute to the study of the interactive social structures of society.
In this article, we sketch the field of qualitative video-analysis and locate videography within this. Instead of presenting the methods of videography formally, we illustrate the application of this method in a particular field: Marian apparitions occurring in a German town in 1999, captured live on video. The presentation of the method in this paper follows a general methodological structure. (1) We first outline the ethnographic context of the setting in which the video-recordings were made. This context includes actors, religious associations, and locations as well as some aspects of the apparitional events’ historical genesis. (2) We then turn to look at the performance of the Marian vision as recorded in the video. By applying sequential analysis, we roughly identify a temporal order to the event, which exhibits an interesting deviation from earlier forms of apparitions due to the way it takes a subjectively “spiritual” form. This finding leads us to finally (3) address the role of the subjective perspective that, as we argue, is a further essential dimension of videography. It is on this level that we are made aware of the relevance of the life-world as a methodological background for the kind of interpretive social science that takes the actor’s perspective into account.
This article proposes a differentiation of ethnographic research by theoretical paradigm, methodological stance, and scientific purpose. Following these categories, we specify life-world-analytical ethnography as originating from the (subject-centered) action theory with an emphasis on observational participation, an affirmative–descriptive attitude toward the research, as well as the implementation of data gathered by personal experience and its interactive verification within the field. Furthermore, we address the challenges ethnographers are facing when conducting their research in mediatized fields and illustrate the advantages of a life-world analytical approach on our case of online-livestreams and videogaming. We thereby introduce the concept of passing to methodologically expand this approach.
There is plenty of debate about the ‘quantitative/qualitative divide’ in the social sciences. Howard Aldrich has written an excellent piece arguing to abolish the distinction, and thereby reinvigorated the debate, for example on OrgTheory and Work in Progress. A quick look at Google’s Ngram viewer is quite interesting. For “qualitative research” it shows
and for the distinction “qualitative/quantitative”
Without having pursued any further research into this, the latter graph might be indicative of Aldrich’s argument. It will be interesting to see if Lia Pearce’s forthcoming chapter will shed light on this.
Pearce, Lisa D. (Forthcoming). Thinking Outside the “Q” Boxes: Further Motivating a Mixed Research Perspective. In Hesse-Biber, Sharlene Nagy & Johnson, R. Burke (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Mixed and Multimethod Research. New York: Oxford University Press.