chapter  7
15 Pages

What About the Critics?

NAIVE? SIMPLISTIC? If ethnomethodology were pursuing the same goals as other theories, then it would indeed be naive if it neglected important structural determinants of conduct; but the fact that it makes no mention of these does not show it has left them out, only that mention of them is irrelevant to the issues in hand. Ethnomethodology's studies relate to other sociological studies in being foundational. That is, they enquire into those things on which other approaches to sociology found themselves, but into which they do not themselves inquire. This is most marked in relation to ethnomethodology's topic of investigation, the organization of daily life. This is not an object of sociological attention as a phenomenon in its own right except in ethnomethodology. The availability of the world of daily life as the scene of sociological practice is something sociology typically takes for granted and does not further inquire into. To take a prominent instance, the fact persons have at their disposal the mastery of a natural language is a presupposition of writing and reading sociology and of making its inquiries with its subjects, yet sociology of language is at best a marginal area of sociology and that is hardly notable for its examination of the nature of natural language mastery. In this and many other ways, then, sociological inquiries require acceptance without reflection of the existence of an already ordered organization of social affairs, within which it is meaningful to pose the questions that they ask and to recommend the methods with which they intend to answer them. Their modes of investigation and analysis simply do not raise the issue of how everyday orderliness is made available, nor how it is that this availability ensures the effectiveness of favoured methods of inquiry.