Home >> Ethnomethodology >> Aaron Cicourel's Cognitive Approach

Aaron Cicourel's Cognitive Approach

In his method and measurement in sociology Aaron Cicourel launched a line of attack on sociology similar to Sacks. The use of mathematics will not remove the problems associated with language, because mathematics is a language that does not necessarily correspond to the phenomena that it describes. Instead it distorts and obliterates acts as a filter or grid for that which will pass as knowledge in a given era. The use of statistics similarly distorts; events cannot be counted, averaged and otherwise manipulated. Such statistical manipulations soon make sociological descriptions inaccurate and mold sociological analysis to the dictates of statistical logic.

Cicourel also questions Garfinkle's assertion that interaction and verbal accounts are the same process.Cicourel notes that humans see, sense and feel much that they cannot communicate with words. Humans use multiple modalities for communicating in situations. Verbal accounts represent crude and incomplete translations of what is actually communicated in interaction. This recognition has led Cicourel to rename his brand of ethnomethodology cognitive sociology.

Cicourel has sought to uncover the universal interpretative procedures by which the humans organize their cognitions and give meaning to situations. It is through these interpretative procedures that people develop a sense of social structure and are able to organize their actions. These interpretative procedures are universal and invariant in humans and their discovery would allow for understanding of how humans create a sense of social structure in the world around them.