Respecifying Lab Ethnography: An Ethnomethodological Study of Experimental Physics, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Respecifying Lab Ethnography

An Ethnomethodological Study of Experimental Physics, 1st Edition

By Philippe Sormani


296 pages

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Hardback: 9781409465867
pub: 2014-10-15
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Respecifying Lab Ethnography delivers the first ethnomethodological study of current experimental physics in action, describing the disciplinary orientation of lab work and exploring the discipline in its social order, formal stringency and skilful performance - in situ and in vivo. Drawing upon extensive participant observation, this book articulates and draws upon two major strands of ethnomethodological inquiry: reflexive ethnography and video analysis. In bringing together these two approaches, which have hitherto existed in parallel, Respecifying Lab Ethnography introduces a practice-based video analysis. In doing so, the book recasts conventional distinctions to shed fresh light on methodological issues surrounding the descriptive investigation of social practices more broadly. An engaged and innovative study of the encountered worksite, this book will appeal not only to sociologists with interests in ethnomethodology and the sociology of work, but also to scholars of science and technology studies and those working in the fields of ethnography and social science methodology.


'As this book on the scanning tunneling microscopy of complex superconducting compounds� evidences, laboratory science, as it is increasingly instrumentalized and mathematized with its stringently self-policing protocols, leaves the radical concealment� of its method open for urgent and painstakingly ethnomethodological inquiry. I am happy to report that this book has lived up to its tall task.’ DuÅ¡an I. Bjeli, University of Southern Maine, USA ’For decades, sociologists and anthropologists of science have talked and debated about how to investigate scientific practice. In Respecifying Lab Ethnography, Philippe Sormani delivers the goods. His description of his own efforts to master the techniques of experimental physics breaks new ground in two ways. First, it reveals an unprecedented level of detail on the material practice of doing cutting-edge science and, second, it presents deep insight into the practice of ethnography.’ Michael E. Lynch, Cornell University, USA '[This study] succeeds in explicating the actual in-vivo practices of scientific practice and discovery. It provides a corrective perspective to the analogising and ironicising accounts of STS. It illustrates the limits of previous ethnomethodological studies it acknowledges it is itself built on. Its challenge to the central role of respecification in analysis is cogent, and it usefully draws our attention to unique adequacy as a requirement for ethnomethodological video analysis. This is a book which will provide healthy debate for many.' BSA Network Magazine

About the Author

Philippe Sormani is Postdoctoral Assistant in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at the University of Vienna, Austria.

About the Series

Directions in Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis

Directions in Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis

Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis are cognate approaches to the study of social action that together comprise a major perspective within the contemporary human sciences. Ethnomethodology focuses upon the production of situated and ordered social action of all kinds, whilst Conversation Analysis has a more specific focus on the production and organisation of talk-in-interaction. Of course, given that so much social action is conducted in and through talk, there are substantive as well theoretical continuities between the two approaches. Focusing on social activities as situated human productions, these approaches seek to analyse the intelligibility and accountability of social activities ‘from within’ those activities themselves, using methods that can be analysed and described. Such methods amount to aptitudes, skills, knowledge and competencies that members of society use, rely upon and take for granted in conducting their affairs across the whole range of social life.

As a result of the methodological rewards consequent upon their unique analytic approach and attention to the detailed orderliness of social life, Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis have ramified across a wide range of human science disciplines throughout the world, including anthropology, social psychology, linguistics, communication studies and social studies of science and technology.

This series is dedicated to publishing the latest work in these two fields, including research monographs, edited collections and theoretical treatises. As such, its volumes are essential reading for those concerned with the study of human conduct and aptitudes, the (re)production of social orderliness and the methods and aspirations of the social sciences.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General