Ethnographies of Reason  book cover
1st Edition

Ethnographies of Reason

ISBN 9781138269620
Published September 30, 2016 by Routledge
288 Pages

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Book Description

Written by one of the most eminent scholars in the field, Ethnographies of Reason is a unique book in terms of the studies it presents, the perspective it develops and the research techniques it illustrates. Using concrete case study materials throughout, Eric Livingston offers a fundamentally different, ethnographic approach to the study of skill and reasoning. At the same time, he addresses a much neglected topic in the literature, illustrating practical techniques of ethnomethodological research and showing how such studies are actually conducted. The book is a major contribution to ethnomethodology, to social science methodology and to the study of skill and reasoning more generally.

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Introduction: Reasoning in the wild; Formal reasoning; Psychological experiments. Exercises and Examples: Tangrams; Jigsaw puzzles; A first ethnography; Phenomenology; A toolic world, part 1; Mapping the infinite plane; Lawlike properties of the prismatic field; An exercise in origami; An embodied correspondence; Straightedge and compass constructions. Projects and Techniques: Sociologies of the witnessable order; Found objects; The stack; The doing of things; Precise description; Indirection; Sketch work; Structures of inquiry and corpus-relevant skills; Emergent themes and analogies of practice. Themes and Orientations: Themes, orientations and research directives; Reflexivity; The primacy of the social; The ordinariness of practical action and its production; Praxeological objects; The characterization problem. Epilogue; Appendices; Index of examples.

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Eric Livingston is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of New England, Australia


Winner: EM/CA Section's Distinguished Publication Award 2009 'Ethnographies of Reason is an extraordinary book. In a series of simple, beautifully written chapters with many worked examples, reasoning is disclosed as exquisitely skilled practical action that is embedded in, and exploits, physical and contextual constraints, intersections and juxtapositions. This is a profound and riveting study of everyday reason that opens doors into previously quite unexamined social and psychological phenomena.' John Heritage, UCLA, USA 'Ethnographies of Reason is surely one of the most important social science books published in the last fifty years. Livingston shows how to investigate a wide range of skills and the reasoning that accompanies those skills, how to get into the mind- and body-set of doing something, and how those practices are intrinsically social. It should reinvigorate work in machine intelligence and engineering, and philosophical analysis, as well as in empirical studies in sociology and anthropology.' Martin H. Krieger, University of Southern California, USA