• Rona PillayEmail author
Reference work entry


Ethnomethodology is a qualitative research methodology which has recently gained momentum across disciplines, more specifically social and health sciences. Ethnomethodology focuses on the study of methods that individuals use in “doing” social life to produce mutually recognizable interactions within a situated context, producing orderliness. It explores how members’ actual, ordinary activities produce and manage settings of organized everyday situations. Practice through everyday life is central to ethnomethodology, the methods of which produce and maintain accountable circumstances of their life activities, making use of common sense knowledge in mundane situations. Ethnomethodology originated from Garfinkel who criticized Parsons’ action theory whereby Garfinkel illustrated how ethnomethodology departs from conventional social theory to develop a methodology for studying social life. Ethnomethodology draws on video-recorded data as a preferred method with detailed attention to talk-in-interaction and gestures as interaction. The rich, detailed data generated may be viewed several times over, thus demonstrating that the data is valuable and trustworthy. The concepts of indexicality, reflexivity, and accountability are central to ethnomethodology because together they illustrate meaning as a methodical accomplishment. The reflexive accountability that contributes to order and the members’ local performance of shared methods to carry out a joint activity form the central values of ethnomethodology. The analytical resources of ethnomethodology have been used to produce procedural accounts of human conduct in zones like museums, classrooms, and sports. Hence health care can be explored and empirically investigated as local interactions to contribute to patient safety.


Ethnomethodology Indexicality Reflexivity Accountability Practice and orderliness 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Nursing and MidwiferyWestern Sydney UniversitySydneyAustralia

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