1st Edition

On Sacks Methodology, Materials, and Inspirations

    236 Pages 94 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    236 Pages 94 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book is devoted to the reintroduction of the remarkable approach to sociological inquiry developed by Harvey Sacks. Sacks’s original analyses – concerned with the lived detail of action and language-in-interaction, discoverable in members’ actual activities – demonstrated a means of doing sociology that had previously seemed impossible. In so doing, Sacks provided for highly technical, detailed, yet stunningly simple solutions to some of the most trenchant troubles for the social sciences relating to language, culture, meaning, knowledge, action, and social organisation. In this original collection, scholars working in a range of different fields, including sociology, human geography, communication and media studies, social psychology, and linguistics, outline the ways in which their work has been inspired, influenced, and shaped by Sacks’s approach, as well as how their current research is taking Sacks’s legacy forward in new directions. As such, the collection is intended to provide both an introduction to, and critical exploration of, the work of Harvey Sacks and its continued relevance for the analysis of contemporary society.

    1. On Sacks: Methodology, Materials, and Inspirations

    Robin James Smith, Richard Fitzgerald, William Housley

    2. Discovering Sacks

    Rod Watson

    3. Action, Meaning and Understanding: Seeing Sociologically with Harvey Sacks

    Michael Mair and Wes Sharrock

    4. Sacks’ Plenum: The Inscription of Social Orders

    Andrew P. Carlin

    5. From Ethnosemantics to Occasioned Semantics: The Transformative Influence of Harvey Sacks

    Jack Bilmes

    6. Sacks, Categories, Language, and Gender

    Elizabeth Stokoe, Bogdana Huma, Derek Edwards

    7. A Most Remarkable Fact, for All Intents and Purposes: The Practical Matter of Categorical Truths

    Jessica Robles

    8. Sacks: On Omni-relevance and the Layered Texture of Interaction

    Richard Fitzgerald

    9. Membership Categorization and the Sequential Multimodal Organisation of Action: Walking, Perceiving, and Talking in Material-spatial Ecologies

    Lorenza Mondada

    10. Revisiting Sacks’s Work on Greetings: the "First Position" for Greetings

    Christian Licoppe

    11. Sacks, Silence, and Self-(de)selection

    Eliot M. Hoey

    12. Using Observation as a Basis for Theorising: Children’s Interaction and Social Order

    Susan Danby

    13. Membership Categorisation and the Notion of "Omni-relevance" in Everyday Family Interactions

    Sara Keel

    14. Sacks and the Study of the Local Organisation of Second Language Lessons

    Ricardo Moutinho

    15. Categorisation Practices, Place, and Perception: Doing Incongruities and the Commonplace Scene as ‘Assembled Activity’

    Robin James Smith

    16. On Sacks and the Analysis of Racial Categories-in-Action

    Kevin A. Whitehead

    17. Harvey Sacks, Membership Categorisation, and Social Media

    William Housley


    Robin James Smith is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Cardiff University, UK. His research is concerned with the ethnomethodology and ethnography of interaction in public space and mobile embodied practices. His work is influenced by, and contributes to, developments in the analysis of categorisational practices. He has also published on qualitative research methodology more generally and is the current editor of Qualitative Research and associate editor of SAGE Research Methods Foundations. He is co-editor of Urban Rhythms: Mobilities, Space and Interaction in the Contemporary City and The Lost Ethnographies: Methodological Insights from Projects That Never Were.

    Richard Fitzgerald is Professor of Communication at the University of Macau, China (SAR). He has researched and written extensively on methods of qualitative discourse analysis with a particular focus on membership categorisation analysis (MCA) and ethnomethodology. His recent publications on MCA include Advances in Membership Categorisation Analysis, with W. Housley, and a co-edited issue of the Journal of Pragmatics with S. Rintel and W. Housley under the title Membership Categorisation Analysis: Technologies of Social Action.

    William Housley is Professor of Sociology at Cardiff University, UK. He has published extensively on qualitative and social research methods, sociological theory, the study of practical reason, ethnomethodology, membership categorization analysis, social interaction and digital sociology. He is co-editor of Advances in Membership Categorisation Analysis with Richard Fitzgerald.

    ‘With this volume, the editors have created a successful compilation of texts on aspects of Harvey Sacks’ work that is unrivaled in terms of thematic and disciplinary breadth … The authors manage, on the one hand, to present well-known and established topics and perspectives of Sacks’ work and their continuations in different research contexts, and on the other hand to show less explored possibilities for connection.’ - Dominik Gerst, Svenja Heuser and Maximilian Krug, Qualitative Social Research (translation)