In Memoriam D. Lawrence Wieder

May 4, 1938 - November 30. 2007

Larry Wieder was one of the great early ethnomethodologists, who was especially good at explication by example what ethnomethodology was all about. His 1974 book, Language and social reality: the case of telling the convict code, has been discussed in many introductory texts as a prime example of the contrast between an 'ethnographic' way or representing a local reality and an ethnomethodological analysis of the continuous constitution of such a reality. In a similar way, his paper on chimpanzee researchers offered a telling contrast between the 'official' knowledge produced by them, and the actually used knowledge in handling their subjects. Below I quote an obituary written by his wife with George Psathas, from the ASA Footnotes, and I provide a selective bibliography.

Paul ten Have
Note: see also the In Memoriam section in Human Studies 31/3: 241-67

"D. Lawrence Wieder, 68, Professor Emeritus of Communication at the University of Oklahoma, died November 30, at Norman Regional Hospital, following a long and courageous battle with pancreatic cancer.

Dr. Wieder was born in Mason City, IA, May 4, 1938, and was raised in Santa Barbara, where he met and married the former Karen Couch of Norman, OK, his wife of 34 years.

He received his bachelorís degree at the University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB), and his doctorate from UCLA in 1969. He was a member of the sociology department at UCSB until 1975, when he joined the faculty of the University of Oklahoma. He taught sociology at the University of Oklahoma for several years and moved to the department of communication in 1983, serving as interim chair in 2000.

His many publications include a book considered a standard in ethnomethodology, Language and Social Reality: The Case of Telling the Convict Code and many articles and conference presentations in his fields. He was a founding editor and Associate Editor of Human Studies for 22 years. He served as an officer of numerous professional associations, including the Society for Phenomenology and the Human Sciences, a Society which he helped to found. He served on the Center for Advanced Research in Phenomenology as an International Advisory Board Member and as an Editorial Board Member of Research in Language and Social Interaction for more than 12 years. He was an active member of many national professional organizations, including the National Communication Association, which presented him with a lifetime achievement award in 2004.

Among the many courses he taught were those in Nonverbal Communication Theory and Research, Ethnomethodology, Conversation Analysis, Face to Face Interaction, Ethnography of Communication, Qualitative Methods, Deviant Behavior, Social Problems, Sociology of Aging, Sociological Theory, and Phenomenology and the Human Sciences.

He was preceded in death by his father, Donald Walter Wieder, and is survived by his mother, Carolyn Allen Wieder, brother, Norman Wieder, niece Deborah Fisher, and nephew David Wieder, all of Santa Barbara, CA, and by his wife, Karen, his son, Robert Wieder of Eustis, VA, and his daughter, Katharine Wieder of Norman.

Donations in his memory can be made to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network ( or to any other national cancer research institute.

Karen Wieder, Oklahoma University and George Psathas, Boston University"


Thanks to Bob Arundale and Eric Laurier a digitised version of the typescript of Larry Wiederís 1969 doctoral thesis, The Convict Code: A Study of a Moral Order as a Persuasive Activity, which was the basis for his 1974 classic ethnomethodological study of ethnography, Language and social reality: the case of telling the convict code, which unfortunately is out of print, is made available at the following page:

Selective bibliography

Garfinkel, Harold, D. Lawrence Wieder (1992) 'Two incommensurable, asymmetrically alternate technologies of social analysis'. In: Graham Watson, R.M. Seiler, eds. Text in context: studies in ethnomethodology. Newbury Park, etc. Sage: 175-206

Mangrum, Faye Gothard, Michael S. Fairley, D.Lawrence Wieder (2001) 'Informal problem solving in the technology-mediated work place', Journal of Business Communication 38: 315-336.

Pratt, Steven, D. Lawrence Wieder (1993) 'The case of saying a few words and talking for another among the Osage people: 'Public speaking' as an object of ethnography', Research on Language & Social Interaction 26.4: 353-408.

Wieder, D. Lawrence (1971) 'On meaning by rule'. In: Jack D. Douglas, ed. Understanding everyday life: towards a reconstruction of sociological knowledge. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul: 107-35 (1970)

Wieder, D. Lawrence (1974) Language and social reality: the case of telling the convict code. The Hague: Mouton [reprinted, 1988, by University Press of America]

Wieder, D. Lawrence (1974) 'Telling the code'. In: Roy Turner, ed. Ethnomethodology: selected readings. Harmondsworth: Penguin: 144-72

Wieder, D. Lawrence (1980) 'Behavioristic operationalism and the lifeworld: chimpanzees and chimpanzee researchers in face-to-face interaction', Sociological Inquiry 50: 75-103

Wieder, D. Lawrence (1988) 'From resource to topic: some aims of conversation analysis'. In: J. Anderson, ed., Communication Yearbook 11. Beverly Hills: Sage: 444-54

Wieder, D.Lawrence (1993) 'Colloquy: On Issues of Quantification in Conversation Analysis', Research on Language and Social Interaction 26: 151-226

Wieder, D. Lawrence (1999) 'Ethnomethodology, Conversation, Analysis, Microanalysis, and the Ethnography of Speaking (EM-CA-MA-ES): resonances and basic issues', Research on Language and Social Interaction 32: 163-71

Wieder, D. Lawrence (2006) 'Book Symposium: Remarks on Ken Liberman's dialectical practice in Tibetan philosophical culture: an ethnomethodological inquiry into formal reasoning', Human Studies 29: 387-392

Wieder, D. Lawrence, Steven Pratt (1990) 'On being a recognizable Indian among Indians'. In: D. Carbaugh, ed. Cultural communication and intercultural contact. Hillsdale: Erlbaum: 45-64

Wieder, D. Lawrence, Steven Pratt (1990) 'On the occasioned and situated character of members' questions and answers, "is he or she a real Indian?"', In: D. Carbaugh, ed. Cultural communication and intercultural contact. Hillsdale: Erlbaum: 65-75

Wieder, D. Lawrence, Don H. Zimmerman (1974) 'Generational Experience and the Development of Freak Culture', Journal of Social Issues, 30/2: 137-62

Zimmerman, Don H., D. Lawrence Wieder (1971) 'Ethnomethodology and the problem of order: Comment on Denzin'. In Jack D. Douglas, ed. (1971) Understanding everyday life: towards a reconstruction of sociological knowledge. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul: 285-98 (1970)

Zimmerman, Don H., D. Lawrence Wieder (1977) 'You can't help but get stoned: notes on the social organization of marijuana smoking', Social Problems 25: 198-207

Zimmerman, Don H., D. Lawrence Wieder (1977) 'The diary - diary-interview method', Urban Life: a Journal of Ethnographic Research 5: 479-98

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