Home >> Ethnomethodology >> Some General Interactive Methods

Some General Interactive Methods

When analytical attention focuses on the methods that people use to construct a sense of reality the task of the theorist is to isolate the general types of interpersonal techniques that people employ in interaction. Aaron Cicourel has summarized a number of such techniques or methods isolated by ethno methodologists- searching for normal term, doing reciprocity of perspectives and using the et cetera principle.

Searching for the normal form
If interacting parties' sense that ambiguity exists over what is real and that their interaction is strained, they will emit gestures to tell each other to return to what is normal in their contextual situation. Actors are presumed to hold a vision of a normal form for situations or to be motivated to create one and hence much of their action is designed to reach this form.

Doing a reciprocity of perspectives
Borrowing from Schutz's formulation, ethnomethodologists have emphasized that actors operate under the presumption and actively seek to communicate the fact that they would have the same experiences were they to switch places. Furthermore until they are so informed by specific gestures, actors can ignore differences in perspectives that might arise from their unique biographies. Thus much interaction will be consumed with gestures that seek to assure others that reciprocity of perspectives does indeed exist.

Using the et cetera principle
In examining an actual interaction much is left unsaid. Actors must constantly fill in or wait for information necessary to make sense of another's words or deeds. When actors do so; they are use the et cetera principle. They are agreeing not to disrupt the interaction by asking for the needed information; they are willing to wait or to fill in. For example the common phase "you know" which usually appears after an utterance is often an assertion by one actor to another invoking et cetera principle.

These three general types of folk methods are but example of what ethno methodologists seek to discover. For some ethno methodologists the ultimate goal of theory is to determine the conditions under which these and other interpersonal techniques will be used to construct, maintain or change a sense of reality.