Topic: Phenomenological Sociology and Ethnomethodology

Phenomenological Sociology and Ethnomethodology


Remember to use in-text citations and references in ASA style. INCLUDE the ” ” marks and/or in-text citation with the PAGE of the quoted or paraphrased text from Ch5 The emergent self attached

Perspective 1: (M . Delgado)

Edmund Husserl (April 8, 1859 – April 27, 1938) was a German philosopher, the “father” of Phenomenology, a method that used for the description and analysis of consciousness in philosophy (Landgrebe). Later on, Alfred Schutz (April 13, 1899 – May 20, 1959) was an Austrian philosopher he took phenomenology further by applying it to the study of society. Hence Phenomenological Sociology was born. Phenomenology is the study of phenomena and an event of things in the world as they appear to our senses, so as we experience something, our mind gives us information about that thing that we are experiencing, and that is a phenomenon. Social phenomenology is a point of view in the field of sociology that aims to explain what role human consciousness plays in the making of social action, social situations, and social worlds. We understand the world because we impose meanings and rules on it; this means society is a product of our minds; it’s a human invention (Farganis 2014:250). Phenomenologist’s primary interest is knowing if we will ever have the actual knowledge of the things that are out there in the real world. Questioning the knowledge of their true object self, will we ever really understand them or is it just a result of our mind and our senses, or do we only know things because we decipher them a certain way (Farganis 2014:247). Alfred Schutz explained that we share concepts and categories with members of society, and these are called ‘typifications.’ They allow us to understand and organize our experiences into a shared system of meaning. Having this shared system of sense, it is beneficial because it means that we can understand each other’s behaviors, and we can work together to achieve shared purposes. Peter Berger argued that although life is socially constructed once formed, it has a life of its own, and it becomes an external phenomenon that influences individuals. It becomes something external to us that begins to affect and influence individuals in society even if they were not a part of the initial process (Farganis 2014:248).
Harold Garfinkel (October 29, 1917 – April 21, 2011), was an American sociologist that studied the production of social order; his interest was on how we produce meanings in the first place. Although Ethnomethodology stems from Phenomenology, this practice is more of a method than a theory. Ethnomethodology’s interests are focused more on the creations of the meanings. Garfinkel argued that social order is an illusion constructed in one’s mind using our commonsense ideas and culturally rooted opinions. He tried to expose the “taken for granted” assumptions we have experimentally, Garfinkel asked students to behave like a visitor or a guest in their own home and observe their family’s response to their odd behavior. The reactions of concern, anger, and confusion only exposed the assumptions they had and how fragile the social order they created is (Farganis 2014:268).
The strength of Ethnomethodology and Phenomenology would be that it explains how meanings are created and negotiated, and they change based on how we interact with them. It shows how the social construction of meaning can have consequences on individuals depending on how we construct them; we will interpret the situations differently and will behave differently. The weaknesses are being that it is a social action theory; it is ignoring the structure of society and the impact it has on us. It doesn’t explain people’s motives for doing the things they do. It undervalues the unequal distribution of power as to who has the potential to define things versus who would get identified. An example of this would be a Marxist who would discuss that the bourgeoisie with riches in society can set ideas as to what they want it to be. They started to define particular behavior as illegal to criminalize the proletarians to have very little power to interpret things around them. Another weakness is that the findings are insignificant; it is all based on common sense (Scientist, S).

ANSWER: (pick ONLY 1 question to answer)

1. From a phenomenological perspective, how does the time in which people live affect their experience and views of social life? What might our ancestors think about the terrorism that we face today in society? How would they make sense of these things since they experienced different situations?

2. Ethnomethodology proposes that everything is a social construction. And the concept that there’s anything real or concrete that exists apart from individuals constructing reality is an illusion. At the same time, Marx says we have two opposing economic classes, the haves, and the have nots that structure all that happens in society. How do these two theories, ethnomethodology and Marxism, compare? Is there a bit of truth in both? If so, what is that bit of truth? Does society define the individual? Does the individual establish society?

Attached is a video of a series of an experiment conducted to show the reaction of individuals toward the unusual behaviors of these young ladies — an example of Harold Garfinkel’s theory of the ‘usual grounds of everyday activities’.



Farganis, J. (2014). Readings in social theory: the classic tradition to post-modernism (7th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Landgrebe, L. M. (2019, April 23). Edmund Husserl. Retrieved October 28, 2019, from

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2019, May 16). Alfred Schutz. Retrieved October 28, 2019, from

Sociology, P. (2016, August 30). What is Ethnomethodology? Sociology A Level. Retrieved November 4, 2019, from

Scientist, S. (2014, June 15). Unit 4 Phenomenology and ethnomethodology. Retrieved November 4, 2019, from

Clark, G. (2012, September 30). Ethnomethodology. Retrieved November 4, 2019, from

Perspective 2: (B . KEMP)

For my breaching experiment, I used the first conversation I had with a friend early in the morning.
Friend: Hey, what’s up, everything okay?
Me: Why? Does everything not seem to be okay?
Friend: I just meant are you cool? (looking peeved) What’s the matter with you?
Me: Its fine. You just need to be concise when talking to people.
Friend: Nevermind then. How’s the job hunt coming?
From the experiment, different social norms were being violated such as the politeness of friendly conversation and the shared verbal understanding that close people always have. The investigation highlighted the idea that social norms needed to be agreed on by people and that it was only when a violation occurred that anyone noticed them. The experiment showed that I played a very important role in making and remaking society in everyday interaction. According to Farganis (2013:264-265) humans are born into a social world and only in reference to an individual do specific types of relationships obtain meaning. The experiment highlighted the awkwardness and confusion that comes about when we move away from the restrictions that prevail in interrelationship among contemporaries. In everyday interactions, people always assume that their fellow man will always understand their actions and communicate with others due to a mutual understanding. Assumptions about this mutual understanding can have its limits. The breaching experiment tests these limits and illustrates that social norms are perceptions that are typically shared and through disapproval/approval are group maintained. Social norms continue to be shaped by economics, religion, culture, along with policy and regulation.


Playing by the taken-for-granted rules becomes, well, so taken-for-granted that we fail to see our part. What you think about this perspective? Use resource attached to sustain your answer

Farganis, James. 2013. Readings in Social Theory: The Classic Tradition to Post Modernism. 6th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Perspective 3: (J . Horsey)
My daughter lives in the in-law quarters behind our home. Every day when she comes in to get breakfast I great her with a hug and smile and ask her how she is doing. Today I didn’t. When she came in, I kept working on my schoolwork. I could see her smiling face staring at me, so I glanced up and smiled. She said, “Hi.”, I smiled and replied, “No, I’m not.” and went back to work. I could see in my peripheral vision that her face changed. My son whipped around to look at me, Natasha’s smile disappeared, and she put her cup down. Both kids kept staring at me and walked closer to wear I was sitting. After a few minutes Natasha said, “What’s happening? Are you okay? What did I do? Oh my god you’re spiking my anxiety! What’s wrong?” I was surprised how quickly both of them were thrown off kilter with my “No, I’m not” response.
Our morning familial gestures, greetings and interactions are so expected in our home that one tiny deviation caused an immediate breakdown that resulted in a half-hour long conversation about our family’s social norms and the affects minor deviations can have on one another’s inner dialog and emotions.
It was surprising to see how quickly deviations in typical exchanges affected the mood and self-dialog of family individuals. This quick change in the observed reality of the individual, in my daughter’s case her observed reality went from something is not quite right, to something is wrong with me, to something is wrong with her shows how delicate the fabric of society really is. The subtle gestures, actions and words of individuals have more impact on the cohesiveness of society than many people realize. What we observe does get internalized and can lead to changes in how we view and present ourselves to others and society in general.
Farganis, James. 2014. Readings in Social Theory, the Classic Tradition to Post-Modernism, 7th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Hiebert, Dennis. 2014. “What does ‘The Social Construction of Reality’ Mean?”. YouTube . Retrieved November 3, 2019 (

1. t’s a fascinating perspective on how we ‘do’ social life, with an important emphasis on the ‘we.’ WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT THIS PERSPECTIVE? Please use resource attached to sustain your answer