Ideas and evidence William Foot Whyte: Street Corner Society The Introduction The Corner Boys Ideas and evidence in the Corner Boys report Ideas and evidence in more or less 'conventional' ethnographies Donald Light: Becoming psychiatrists Jack Douglas: The nude beach Robert Pool: Vragen om te sterven Ideas and evidence in ethnomethodological ethnography David Sudnow: Passing on D. Lawrence Wieder: Language and social reality Michael Lynch, Art and artifact in laboratory science Discussion Notes References Appendix: Contents pages
One can observe, in ethnographic writings, descriptive practices ranging from the most global glosses to finely detailed descriptions. Such different kinds of descriptions can, in their turn, be embedded in differently structured arguments and stories. In this paper, I discuss some examples of ethnographic writing, both 'conventional' and ethnomethodological, in terms of the shifting selections made within several ranges op reporting options.
On the one hand, ethnographers have to deal with the 'local' accountability of their findings. What they provide is supposed to be a write-up of information they have recorded in 'field notes', written some time after the events observed in 'the field'. Such notes inevitably depend on the researchers' 'private' perceptive abilities and sensitivities, as well as on local circumstances, both practical and relational, while the report has to be convincing to an audience without access to the field-as-observed. On the other hand, field observations, in whatever form they are reported, have to make sense as part of an argument, debate, or story.
The paper explores, then, some of the ways in which ethnographers deal with the accountability of their findings as a practical task, i.e. a task of textual design.
In the first section, I summarize some of the ideas formulated by Charles Ragin who has suggested the social research 'involves a dialogue between ideas and evidence'. The theme of my explorations will therefore be how ethnographic reporters provide displays of such a dialogue in their reports. The first, and most extensively discussed case will be the first chapter of William Foot Whyte's classic Street Corner Society (in the second and third sections), to be followed by some summary sketches of a number of other ethnographic reports, both more or less 'conventional' in their approach (section five) as well as ethnomethodological ones (section six). A general discussion will conclude the paper.
Social research, in simplest terms, involves a dialogue between ideas and evidence. Ideas help social researchers make sense of evidence, and researchers use evidence to extend, revise, and test ideas. The end result of this dialogue is a representation of social life - evidence that has been shaped and reshaped by ideas, presented along with the thinking that guided the construction of the representation.
Because the 'distance' between abstract and general 'ideas' and concrete and specific 'evidence tends to be a large one, his model specifies some mediating structures, called 'analytic frames' and 'images', between the two. 'Analytic frames' are deduced from general ideas and focussed on the topic of the research, while 'Images' are inductively constructed from the evidence, but in terms provided by an analytic framework. The researcher's core job is to construct a 'Representation of Social Life', combining analytic frames and images in a 'double fitting' process called 'retroduction' (i.e. a combination of deduction and induction).
Ideas and evidence interact through images and analytic frames, (...) Think of analytic frames as a detailed sketch or outline of an idea about some phenomenon. Ideas are elaborated through analytic frames. Frames constitute ways of seeing the things they elaborate. (...)
Images, by contrast, are built up from evidence. (...) To construct images, researchers synthesize evidence--they connect different parts or elements of the things they study in order to create more complete portraits based on some idea of how these parts are or could be related. Initial images suggest new data collection paths.
One can say that the various traditions in social research differ from each other in the kinds and contents of their leading ideas, in the character of the evidence used, and in the manner in which the dialogue of ideas and evidence takes form in their practices and public presentations. One major contrast would be that some stress the 'downward', deductive kind of reasoning, while others prefer to argue 'upwards', inductively. Ragin stresses, however, as visualised by his double arrows, that in actual practice there is always a two-way reasoning, a dialogue between the various levels. The model is, of course, a simplification in many ways, but it offers a useful device to organize my discussion of ethnographic reporting. So what I want to do in this paper is to investigate how ethnographers construct the dialogue between ideas and evidence in the text of their reports. In the first quote in this section, the first two sentences seem to refer to the research process, while the third concerns the research product, the report. What I study is the reconstructed 'dialogue' that is visible in the text of the report.
He characterizes outsider views in phrases like:
To the rest of the city it is a mysterious, dangerous, and depressing area. (...) For years Cornerville has been known as a problem area, (...) They think of it as the home of racketeers and corrupt politicians, of poverty and crime, of subversive beliefs and activities. (...)
In this view, Cornerville people appear as social work clients, as defendants in criminal cases, or as undifferentiated members of "the masses."
Then he prepares for the contrast by writing: 'There is one thing wrong with such a picture: no human beings are in it.' And he continues:
Those who are concerned with Cornerville seek through a general survey to answer questions that require the most intimate knowledge of local life. The only way to gain such knowledge is to live in Cornerville and participate in the activities of its people. One who does that finds that the district reveals itself to him in an entirely different light. The buildings, streets, and alleys that formerly represented dilapidation and physical congestion recede to form a familiar background for the actors upon the Cornerville scene.
In this way, the contrast serves to prepare the reader that she or he is about to be informed about the most intimate knowledge of local life, and especially about the human beings who are the actors upon the Cornerville scene. The contrast is elaborated a bit further by noting that press reports, when they appear at all, will tend to focus on specific individuals who committed a murder for instance. But if one really would wants to understand such events
the individual must be put back into his social setting and observed in his daily activities. In order to understand the spectacular event, it is necessary to see it in relation to the everyday pattern of life - for there is a pattern to Cornerville life. The middle-class person looks upon the slum district as a formidable mass of confusion, a social chaos. The insider finds in Cornerville a highly organized and integrated social system.
lt follows, therefore, that no immediate and direct solution to the problems posed for Cornerville can be given. lt is only when the structure of the society and its patterns of action have been worked out that particular questions can be answered. This requires an exploration of new territory.
He then proceeds to give a short historical sketch of the area and its population, consisting of Italian immigrants and their descendants. Whyte summarizes his approach in the following terms:
In this exploration of Cornerville we shall be little concerned with people in general. We shall encounter particular people and observe the particular things they do. The general pattern of life is important, but it can be constructed only through observing the individuals whose actions make up that pattern.
If we can get to know these people intimately and understand the relations between little guy and little guy, big shot and little guy, and big shot and big shot, then we know how Cornerville society is organized. On the basis of that knowledge it becomes possible to explain people's loyalties and the significance of political and racket activities.
In short, Whyte pre-structures his report by presenting an overall contrast between outsider and insider knowledge The implied promise is, of course, that he, who has acquired insider knowledge through his participation, will be able to provide his readers with a more complete kind of picture of the chosen area (and by implication similar areas) than can be distilled from press reports and general surveys. That picture is characterized in terms of 'structure' and 'organization' - in contrast to the previous image of disorganization - and as displaying the daily life of real people. The idea of 'structure' and the promise of real people are connected in the sense that the relationships between the people that make up the area's population can be seen as an organized whole of interconnected activities and loyalties.
In a first section, 'The members of the gang', Whyte introduces the members and recounts the history of the gang, based mostly on interviews with Doc and illustrated with fragments from his 'story'.
Here is a summary account:
The men became accustomed to acting together. They were also tied to one another by mutual obligations. In their experiences together there were innumerable occasions when one man would feel called upon to help another, and the man who was aided would want to return the favor. Strong group loyalties were supported by these reciprocal activities.
He ends that section with a sketch of the distinctions in ranking among gang's member, with Doc acting as the 'leader', three of his closer friends as 'lieutenants', and nine as 'followers'. These rankings were based on things like influence, reputation, age and social ability.
There were distinctions in rank among the Nortons. Doc, Danny, and Mike held the top positions. They were older than any others except Nutsy. They possessed a greater capacity for social movement. While the followers were restricted to the narrow sphere of one corner, Doc, Danny, and Mike had friends in many ether groups and were well known and respected throughout a large part of Cornerville. lt was one of their functions to accompany the follower when he had to move outside of his customary social sphere and needed such support. The leadership three were also respected for their intelligence and powers of self-expression. Doc in particular was noted for his skill in argument. On the in-frequent occasions when he did become involved, he was usually able to outmaneuver his opponent without humiliating him. I never saw the leadership three exert their authority through physical force, but their past fighting reputations tended to support their positions.
Doc was the leader of the gang. The Nortons had been Doc's gang when they had been boys, and, although the membership had changed, they were still thought to be Doc's gang. The crap game and its social obligations prevented Danny and Mike from spending as much time with the Nortons as did Doc. They were not se intimate with the followers, and they expected him to lead.
Long John was in an anomalous position. Though he was flve years younger than Doc, his friendship with the three top men gave him a superior standing.
This idea of a structure of distinctions among the gang members is visualized in the following schema.
In the second section, this theme is elaborated under the title 'Bowling and social ranking' (pp.14-25). It describes the place of bowling in the gang's history, as it became 'the most significant social activity for the Nortons' during the winter and spring of 1937-38 (17). It has the following structure. It starts with a story about a bowling match, and its aftermath, between some of the Nortons and a team made up of some 'well-educated' men from the neighbourhood. The Norton team was very happy to win, as this was considered 'a lesson' for the others, who were considered conceited, pretentious and snobbish. Then Whyte offers a short explanation of bowling and what it takes to win, i.e. self-confidence (17). This leads to an elaboration of the major theme of the section: the complex relations between, on the one hand, the bowling abilities, successes and failures of the group members, and their standing within the gang on the other. As he writes in summary:
The records of the season 1937-38 show a very close correspondence between social position and bowling performance. [...] [bowling] became the main vehicle whereby the individual could maintain, gain or lose prestige.
Bowling scores did not fall automatically into this pattern. There were certain customary ways of behaving which exerted pressure upon the individuals. Chief among these were the manner of choosing sides and the verbal attacks the members directed against one another.
Generally, two men chose sides in order to divide the group into two five-man teams. The choosers were often, but not always, among the best bowlers. If they were evenly matched, two poor bowlers frequently did the choosing, but in all cases the process was essentially the same. Each one tried to select the best bowler among those who were still unchosen. When more than ten men were present, choice was limited to the first ten to arrive, so that even a poor bowler would be chosen if he came early. lt was the order of choice which was important. Sides were chosen several times each Saturday night, and in this way a man was constantly reminded of the value placed upon his ability by his fellows and of the sort of performance expected of him.
As to the earlier mentioned 'verbal attacks the members directed against one another', he writes:
When Doc, Danny, Long John, or Mike ((the top 4, PtH)) bowled on opposing sides, they kidded one another good-naturedly. Good scores were expected of them, and bad scores were accounted for by bad luck or temporary lapses of form. When a follower threatened to better his position, the remarks took quite a different form. The boys shouted at him that he was lucky, that he was "bowling over his head." The effort was made to persuade him that he should not be bowling as well as he was, that a good performance was abnormal for him. This type of verbal attack was very important in keeping the members "in their places." lt was used particularly by the followers so that, in effect, they were trying to keep one another down. While Long John, one of the most frequent targets for such attacks, responded in kind, Doc, Danny, and Mike seldom used this weapon. However, the leaders would have met a real threat on the part of Alec or Joe by such psychological pressures.
Whyte has prepared for these conclusions by recounting a series of group matches and individual contests in which successes and failures are suggested to be co-created, or at least treated differently, according to the 'rank' of the bowlers in the gang structure. Here is part of one such a story:
When Long John and Alec acted outside the group situation, it became possible for Alec to win. Long John was still considered the dependable man in a team match, and that was more important in relation to a man's standing in the group. Nevertheless, the leaders felt that Alec should not be defeating Long John and tried to reverse the situation. As Doc told me:Alec isn't so aggressive these days. I steamed up at the way he was going after Long John, and I blasted him ..... Then I talked to Long John. John is an introvert. He broods over things, and sometimes he feels inferior. He can't be aggressive like Alec, and when Alec tells him how he can always beat him, Long John gets to think that Alec is the better bowler ..... I talked to him. I made him see that he should bowl better than Alec. I persuaded him that he was really the better bowler ..... Now you watch them the next time out. I'll bet Long John will ruin him.The next time Long John did defeat Alec. He was not able to do it every time, but they became so evenly matched that Alec lost interest in such competition.
A further aspect of this rank structure is discussed in the following terms:
The origination of group action is another factor in the situation. The Community Club match really inaugurated bowling as a group activity, and that match was arranged by Doc. Group activities are originated by the men with highest standing in the group, and it is natural for a man to encourage an activity in which he excels and discourage one in which he does not excel.
And he adds still another aspect - 'The standing of the men in the eyes of other groups also contributed toward maintaining social differentiation within the group' - which is further illustrated with a story.
I now want to consider the overall structure of this section. Here follows an overview of what might be called the 'unmarked subsections' in it.
1 Match Norton team >< Italian Community Club team, p. 14 (20 lines)Subsections 1 and 2 consist mainly of the story of the match and its aftermath, with an 8-line comment on Doc's handling of a conflict at the end: '...it was Doc's function to see that diplomatic relations were maintained'. Subsection 3 serves as a kind of bridge between that match and the establishment of bowling as a central activity which is treated in the rest of the section. Subsection 4 is a kind of introduction to the social-psychological processes that are to play a central role in what follows. Subsections 5 and 6 can be seen as the central part of the section. In 5 a kind of overview of bowling activities during the winter and spring season is given, stressing the intra-group strife concerning group status in relation to success or failure in bowling, while 6 details a final high point of those developments. The text is constructed as an alternating mixture of fairly global story-tellings and comments or reflections. The final subsection provides a summary and Whyte's perspective on the issues dealt with in the section, although it ends with still another story with quoted comments by Doc, on the influence of the gang's 'external relations' on its internal ranking system.
2 Aftermath of that match, p. 14-6 (81 lines)
3 Significance of bowling for the gang, p. 16-7 (7 lines)
4 What bowling takes: self confidence, p. 17 (30 lines)
5 Group standing & bowling, p. 17-20 (88 lines)
6 April '38 match, aftermath and afterthoughts, p. 20-23 (110 lines)
7 A concluding part: summary, overview and reflection., p. 23-25 (77 lines)
What we see in this section, then, is a 'mixture' of several kinds of textual formats:
In their Writing ethnographic fieldnotes (1995: 179-82) Robert Emerson at al distinguish two different 'textual strategies' for using fieldnotes in ethnographic reports:
An integrative strategy weaves together interpretation and [fieldnote] excerpts; it produces a text with minimal spatial marking - such as indentation or single spacing - to indicate where fieldnote ends and interpretation begins.
In contrast, an excerpt strategy visually marks fieldnote extracts off from accompanying commentary and interpretation (...)
In those terms, Whyte uses a mixed strategy as he integrates field observations in his own interpretive text, while he marks off verbatim quotes visually in an excerpt kind of way. In so doing he unites his two voices of observer and commentator, while keeping them apart from the voice of his subjects, mainly Doc. So the text is written as a dialogue between two voices, those of the research subjects, i.e. the 'corner boys' with 'Doc' as their major spokesperson, and the ethnographer and reporter, Whyte.
There are three more section in this chapter, which I will discuss in a less comprehensive manner, namely: 'The Nortons and the Aphrodite Club', 'Doc's Political Campaign' and 'Disintegration'. The first of these treats the history of the rather ambivalent and short-lived relations between the Norton gang and a girls' club. The ambivalence had to do with the image of being conceited that these girls had for the Nortons and with the fact that most of the 'boys' did not have the spending money and cars that courting these girl required at their disposal. This situation necessitated some rather subtle manoeuvring between the members who wanted to enjoy female company and those who were more reluctant, given feelings and their material situation. In the end, the chapter focusses on the loyalty dilemma's that emerged from this, especially for Doc as the gang's 'leader'. Here is Whyte's summary:
The Nortons and the Aphrodite girls were brought together by Doc. When Danny and Mike wanted te break them apart, they concentrated particularly upon Doc. Two of the followers could have been left out without changing the group very much, but Danny and Mike held such important positions that the Nortons could not have continued to be the Nortons without them. Furthermore, they were Doc's closest friends, and, whenever he had to choose between them and the others, he chose them. Bowling with the girls had threatened to split the Nortons, and Danny and Mike acted upon Doc to reestablish the unity of the group. By fall the two groups had drifted apart so that one could hear the Nortons expressing the same attitudes toward the girls that they had held before becoming acquainted. Only Alec, Joe Dodge, and Fred Mackey chose, in effect, to remain with the girls, and their relationship to the Nortons became rather tenuous. Joe and Fred eventually married into the group.
Association with the girls was, like bowling, a means of gaining, maintaining, or losing prestige in the group. As in bowling, Alec had to be kept in his place. lt was essential to the smooth functioning of the group that the prestige gradations be informally recognized and maintained.
As can be seen, various stories, incidents and quotes, which have been given in the previous 10 pages of this section, are here finally condensed into more general statements that have conceptual implications in terms of group maintenance, ranking and especially leadership.
The two remaining sections treat 'Doc's Political Campaign' and the 'Disintegration' of the Norton gang. Because of his leadership qualities and his wide connections, Doc was encouraged by his friends to start a career in politics and run for an office. He failed, however, to live up to the expectations, for lack of self-confidence and because he didn't have a job and therefore to money to spend. He withdrew in mid-campaign.
Doc had moved freely through Cornerville and outlying districts, gathering a following wherever he went. Popularity and influence had come to him without effort on his part. The years of unemployment had sapped his confidence and steadily narrowed his sphere of social activity. (...)
To become successful in politics, the corner boy must be able to go out from his own gang and continually widen his sphere of social influence. He must be able to meet new groups and participate in their activities. Doc was moving in precisely the opposite direction, and he knew it. His self-confidence was net completely gone. He was sure that if he had a steady job he could reverse the trend of his life. Then he would have money to spend, and he could do the things that were expected of him when he participated in group activities. When he gave up hope of getting a job, he saw that his own path split off from the path of the successful politician in an ever widening gap. Since he could not travel both roads at once, he took the only way out.
The last section recounts a number of later developments, including a successful but temporary job for Doc, which added to his withdrawal from the corner boys group, and the rise of a new group leader, who later drops out leading to the final disappearance of the Norton gang. Whyte includes some later happenings that fit very well with his earlier observations concerning bowling and social ranking. The same can be said concerning various aspects of group leadership. So although this section presents an aftermath to the earlier story, it does succeed in confirming some of Whyte's earlier conceptual conclusions.
As can be seen from the overview given above, Whyte has chosen a temporal framework to organize the description and analysis of his exemplary Cornerboy gang. The chapter start with a historical overview, based on Doc's retrospective report, and continues by following the gang's history during Whyte's stay in the field. The central sections, although dealing with substantively different themes, i.e. bowling, girls and, politics, are at the same time more or less temporally ordered.
As noted in the previous section, Whyte prepares his readers in his Introduction by suggesting some interrelated contrasts. There is a methodological contrast between outsider images and insider knowledge and a substantive contrast between the image of 'a social chaos' and 'a highly organized and integrated social system'. Furthermore, there is his suggestion that, in order to gain a real understanding, one needs to go beyond problem-focussed press reports and general surveys, leading to the announcement: 'We shall encounter particular people and observe the particular things they do', and its rationale 'The general pattern of life is important, but it can be constructed only through observing the individuals whose actions make up that pattern'. So, while Whyte does provide the reader with some ideas as a preparation for his or her reading, these are indeed quite general ones, offering little more than a general definition of the topic of the report - social organization - and how it will proceed - through the observation of the actions of individuals.
In the first chapter, the reader is immediately drawn into the life of the Corner Boys by an extensive history of one exemplary 'gang'. That is, the reader is confronted with a lot of real-life evidence, rather than with an elaborate 'analytic framework'. The first impression, therefore, may be that Whyte proceeds in an inductive manner, directly building up an image from the observational evidence as well as from member accounts. Using the background knowledge that Whyte himself has provided in the 1955 Preface and Appendix to the second edition of his 1943 text, one can discover that he has been using pre-existing ideas, notably derived from the Human Relations school of industrial sociology and the anthropologists Chapple and Arensberg. These 'influences' are discernable in his stress on 'structure' as consisting of patterns of more or less enduring relationships between people and of the role of effective leadership in maintaining such structures. Furthermore, 'relationships' are conceived of as patterns of habitual actions, mutual obligations and loyalties, while leadership is defined in terms of initiation of interaction and maintaining ranked relationships. One may note that what Whyte has studied later became well-known in terms of 'informal organization' as an essential part of the real-life functioning of formal organizations. In terms of Whyte's construction of his core report, however, his choice has been to use such ideas and inspirations in an unmarked fashion, rather than elaborating them in a preliminary chapter or referencing them explicitly in the text or in notes. By proceeding in this fashion, he seems to suggest that such ideas and concepts are somehow the naturally fitting ones for his overall topic, a matter of necessity rather than a well-considered choice.
The overall structure of the book is based on the major categorizations within the population studied: the 'little guys of Cornerville', the 'corner boys' and the 'college boys', as opposed to the 'big shots', the racketeers and politicians, going from 'lower sand smaller to higher and larger types of organization. In terms of scope the overall text show a characteristic development starting, in the Preface with a very wide scope, then from the start of the first chapter narrowing the focus to one group and in a way on one person, Doc, then widening again to include more and more encompassing issues, ending with Cornerville's social structure and an exemplar of 'an Italian slum'. But whatever the scope, the analytic object stays the same, as can be seen from the following concluding statement towards the end of the book:
The corner gang, the racket and police organizations, the political organization, and now the social structure have all been described and analyzed in terms of a hierarchy of personal relations based upon a system of reciprocal obligations. These are the fundamental elements out of which all Cornerville institutions are constructed.
Light's book is an example of a solid ethnography of professional socialization, in the tradition established by Everett C. Hughes. The way in which it is constructed, and the massive referencing is contains, fit with such a solidity, as well as with the topic.
Robert Pool does not present one overall observer's viewpoint. He is at pains to make it clear that the case consists of an inherently multiplex combination of, in themselves continuously changing perspectives. He writes that his approach is what he calls 'performative' and 'dialogical', meanings are enacted, never completely clear, and never fixed. The overall and detailed format of his report has been consciously conceived to exhibit this approach.
The title of the other chapters suggest a mixture of thematic and temporal ordering: 'The occurrence and visibility of death; some ecological and occupational considerations', 'Death and dying as social states of affairs', 'On bad news', 'extensions outside the hospital; notes on a sociology of mourning' and 'An overview'. In his reporting of his findings, Sudnow mainly uses an 'integrative strategy', with an occasional excerpt of observations and especially conversations. This preference may very well be related to his focus on procedural routines, which invite being reported as regular occurrences rather than incidents. The not too frequent notes are mainly used for side-remarks and references to thematically related studies or literary renderings. Quite a few notes refer to Erving Goffman, who was his PhD advisor, some to Harold Garfinkel and one to Harvey Sacks. Of special interest are the references to the studies by Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss who were engaged in a study of death and dying in about the same period. Sudnow makes it very clear that the two projects, his and theirs, have a markedly different focus, his on routine procedures, theirs on social-psychological aspects such as 'awareness' and perceptions of 'social loss'.
The overall structure of the book is quite 'conventional' and the descriptive strategy fits the 'routine' or 'pattern' character of what is being described. The analytic object of the report is given in meticulous formulations, together with relevant source references. Sudnow takes great care to keep his descriptions focussed on it, throughout the book.
becomes his problematic phenomenon: How do parties to the setting find the code to be the source of, and hence the ready explanation for, the distinctive patterns of behavior found in the halfway house?
The overall structure of Wieder's report is, then, closely tied to the specifics of his argument. Part I starts with a chapter, 'Rules as explanations of action', in which he gives a succinct explication of his overall approach, in fact a theoretical and methodological introduction, and therefore not really a 'part' of 'Part I' as described above. The second chapter presents the research setting, while the third describes, as its title says 'Patterns of resident behavior'. Chapter 4, the final one in this part, is called 'The Convict Code as an explanation of deviant behavior'. It presents a formulation of 'the Code', as a summary of the rules that the residents and staff member formulated, and a consideration of similar explanatory concepts referring to a subversive counter-culture, found in the literature. In effect, then, the internal structure of part one can be seen as quite conventional: theory, background, findings and explanations. The crux of the matter is the shift from culture-as-resource to culture-as-topic, announced in chapter 1, and accomplished in Part II. That part starts with a 3-page 'Introduction to an ethnomethodological analysis of the Convict Code', followed by '"Telling the Code": Folk Sociology and Social Reality'. The latter describes a series of ways in which 'the Code' was 'told' by residents and staff members. The next three chapters elaborate various aspects of the situated activity of 'Telling the Code', as persuasion and reflexive formulation, as a guide to perception and as an exhibition of order. The second part of the report is organized, then, in terms of theoretically relevant themes. The second, most empirical chapter of the set, however, is mainly organized in terms of the two relevant categories, residents and staff, and their interactions. Within the section on residents' tellings, the order of discussing incidents is in part a temporal one, suggesting the learning process character of the ethnographic experience.
The presentation strategy varies with the chapters' overall character. The one on 'Patterns of resident behavior', for instance, is written in an integrative style, as it describes routine ways of doing things. The chapter describing 'Telling the Code' starts with a number of incident descriptions of residents engaged in such tellings, but these are not typographically marked as 'excerpts'. In the section on staff's tellings, however, excerpts from tape-recorded interviews with staff members are presented in a marked fashion, so in that section Wieder follows an excerpt strategy. As to referencing, there is also a marked contrast between the more theoretical and empirical chapters, the first kind have many references, especially to pervious ethnomethodological work and related sources, while the latter have only a few if any at all.
In this case, then, we see quite dense connections between the overall structure of the argument and the structures for ordering the text, the presentation strategies and the intensity of referencing.
Ethnomethodological studies of work in the sciences are explicitly concerned with the technical production of order in specialized scientific and mathematical disciplines.
The first chapter, called: 'Introduction: methodological issues in the study of scientific work' and using 22 pages, extends this distinguishing discussion in more detail. Both pieces are heavily noted, 22 and 28 respectively, referring to two sets of publications, science studies in general, and ethnomethodology. The following, substantive chapters are organized into two parts, called 'Ethnographic accounts of shop work' and 'Agreement in laboratory shop talk', respectively. The first chapter of part I presents a introductory description of 'the lab setting', while the next two go deeper into a topic-specific exploration of lab practices, discussing project organization and 'an archeology of artifact', respectively. The first three chapters of Part two have a similar, progressively focussing structure, as the first discusses 'laboratory shop talk', while the next two present a distinction between two conceptions of 'agreement', and an elaboration of the second of these 'achieved agreement' in a particular type of talk, showing 'modifications of accounts of objects'. The final chapter is a conclusion, which also provides a critical discussions of the unavoidably (?) 'artifactual' character of the author's own demonstrations of the investigated practices.
Lynch uses quite a variety of presentation strategies, ranging from general descriptions, through summarizing routine characterizations, to detailed 'exhibits' quoted from fieldnotes. These latter excerpts are not marked typographically. In the second part of the book, the empirical chapters provide detailed transcripts of fragments of 'shop talk' recorded in the laboratory. These excerpts are marked by having numbered lines of unequal length and various non-text symbols.
In short, Lynch uses an overall approach of stepwise specification and focussing of his topic(s). On the one hand, his arguments are built up in contrast to a wide variety of other writings about science, and supported by references to some others such as Garfinkel and Sacks. Some of this work is done in the body of the text, but a lot is placed in relatively voluminous notes. And, on the other hand, his arguments are developed by reference to empirical instances, field-noted observations in Part 1, transcripts in part 2. As Lynch makes clear in his introductory chapter, theoretical statements are to be read as 'contingent', rather than as fixed principles to be followed.
And as to his 'empirical' references, he states that ethnomethodologists 'converge on the use of records of those inquiries [studied] as both analytic "materials" and exhibits of discoveries.' For instance:
Videotape and audiotape are situated exhibits of actions, and their use in detailing constituent structures of any particular order of work requires an argument for how that work is visible in that way as a consequential production of the setting studied. The analytic use of the video record or audio record requires a demonstration of the relevance of bodily movement and talk as a repository of the detailed make-up of the work's accountability.
In many settings it is the embodiment of speech and gesture which provides work with its visibility for practitioners. Accordingly, videotape and audiotape are used in studies detailing the circumstantial production of (..) phenomena (...)
Whyte introduced his report by contrasting popular notions about the overall character of slums and their population, with the inside knowledge that one can gain by starting an ethnographic investigation: observing real people in everyday life situations. An additional contrast is the outsiders impression of slum areas as a social chaos, while an ethnographer acquires the ability to see it as 'a highly organized and integrated social system,' because he observes how the people organize their activities and how they relate to each other.
The first chapter can be read as a demonstration of how the ethnographer can obtain such insider knowledge by hanging around with a gang and talking with its members. Whyte describes some of the scenes he observed and quotes from the members' talk, especially from the gang's leader, Doc. These descriptive paragraphs are interwoven with more general observations and reflective asides. Whyte does not explicate what one could call the non-observational sources of his observations and reflections, i.e. his ideas concerning the importance of organized activities, more or less enduring relationships, based on loyalties and mutual obligations, and group leadership. In this fashion, Whyte does create the impression that his vision of slum life is somehow obvious and natural, as if the ideas followed from the observational evidence, rather than being elaborated in a dialogical process.
Using a contrast developed by Emerson et al, we can say that Whyte used an integrative strategy for reporting his observational evidence, while using an excerpt style for quotes from verbal accounts. The overall structure of the book is based on Whyte's categorization of the Cornerville population: Corner Boys, College Boys, Racketeers and Politicians, followed by conclusions. Within the chapters and the sections he often used a combination of a thematic and a temporal ordering. In line with his apparent general interest, he tends to take a leadership perspective.
Following this first exploration, I browsed 6 other ethnographies. Light's study of psychiatric training was remarkably different for its extensive theoretical introductions and elaborate notes and references. For his empirical chapters, he used both integrative and excerpt strategies, while the divisions of chapters and sections are mainly thematic but sometimes temporal. His analytic object is the process of transformation of 'self'. Douglas' report on The Nude Beach is like Whyte in that it has no notes or references. The empirical middle part while uses an excerpt style which stresses its grounded character. But this does not preclude starting and ending with an extremely wide perspective, in which the 'local' opposition nudity/clothed is linked to the highly general themes of sexuality, civilization and human nature. Pool's study of euthanasia is constructed as a series of case reports, where each case seems to have been chosen for its ability to illustrate some essential aspects of the problematics of euthanasia decisions. The general chapters, one at both start and finish of the book, and one in the middle, are not very long and mainly reflective. The reporting strategy is integrative, combining observational and recorded verbal data. The empirical chapters are, as implied, thematic, but within the chapters the organization is temporal and perspectival. In so doing, the author has done full justice to this extremely sensitive and complex topic.
Of the four non-ethnomethodological ethnographies, so far considered, the one by Light is the most clearly academic in style. Its message might not be very welcome among members of the social category that he has observed, and they are people that read books. So his extreme care in grounding his ideas and evidence in the literature, and in his own observations, seems to make good sense. Both Whyte and Douglas seem to have written for a general, non-academic audience, at least not for one interested in extensive notes and references. Whyte's study was an 'early' one, of course, but 25 years of Chicago sociology and community studies, as well as his specific intellectual resources could have been given a more explicit reference. But then, both Whyte and Douglas had a non-academic message to tell. Pool's topic was also one of intense public interest. His book may be read as calling for a very cautious debate of the issues involved, as all cases are different and all meanings perspectival. Its message, then, seems to be that the topic is much too complex to allow for any simple yes/no stances.
The ethnomethodological studies I reviewed, although more similar that the previously discussed set, also show some interesting diversity in style and structure. All three have an academic style in terms of referencing and overall argument. Their message is to provide a demonstration of the ethnomethodological perspective, or as one might prefer, the ethnomethodological topic, in contrast to more established academic and/or commonsense perspectives and topics. That topic might be characterized as the local achievement of facts or conditions that commonsensically are treated as 'fixed' or 'given', whether these involve 'death' or 'class differential treatment', a typical 'subculture' or the difference between findings and errors.
It is remarkable, that Whyte in a way pre-figured such a stress on local achievement in his depiction of the continuous efforts of gang members, and especially their leader, Doc, to maintain their relationships and relative ranking. Although he talks about 'structure' and 'organization', he makes it very clear that whatever stability (as well as change) one may observe is the product of members' contingent efforts. His perspective in explicating these aspects is social-psychological, however, rather than one of situated action.
As noted, Sudnow's chapter organization is quite straightforward, while his descriptions are mainly in an integrative style, which fits his stress on routines. Wieder, on the other hand, has developed a rather specific structure in two parts, reflecting the opposing between a conventional culturalist perspective and an ethnomethodological one focussing on the organized activities of doing cultural descriptions and explanations. His choice of reporting style varied with the specific topic, stressing patterns or doings respectively. Lynch, finally, seems to have chosen his chapter organization to allow a gradual sharpening of the focus of his text on the 'modifications of accounts of objects', as the actual reality constituting work of lab members. He uses a variety of presentation strategies to fit his argument in detail.
A final remark on the reporting strategies as distinguished by Emerson
al. We saw that when the 'excerpt strategy' was used at all, it was
mainly for quoting talk, while the 'integrative strategy' was chosen for
observations. Describing (inter)actions in words seems to involve a more
radical transformation than quoting, or even than paraphrasing, talk. Therefore,
the epistemological distance between a description of some (inter)action
and its 'original' seems greater that between a quote and the talk it depicts.
This seems even to be taken to be the case when the talk has not been recorded
mechanically, but has to be re-constituted from notes or memory, as must
have been the case for Whyte, and probably for Light, Douglas and Sudnow
as well. Wieder's practice was probably similar. Pool mentions explicitly
that he audio-recorded most of the reported talk, although it is clearly
edited, while Lynch uses CA's transcription style, to display most of the
talking he discusses. For Emerson, the excerpt style refers to the use
of fieldnotes, but one can say that the style gets its most systematic
use in conversation analysis. Using the excerpt strategy suggests that
the excerpt provides a somehow closer representation of reality than the
surrounding, more 'theoretical' text. It separates the realist and the
constructivist voices of the ethnographer. The integrative style, on the
other hand, can be taken to represent an epistemological style that unites
the voices of the observer and the theorist. The split that CA uses between
excerpt and text, between data and argument, is, then, a telling display
of its ambiguous epistemological position.
2. In some of his later writings, David Sudnow has explored some more radically post-conventional styles of ethnographic reporting, most notably in his Ways of the hand: the organization of improvised conduct (1978).
Emerson, R.M., R.I. Fretz, L.L. Shaw (1995) Writing ethnographic field notes. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Light, D. (1980) Becoming psychiatrists: the professional transformation of self. New York: Norton
Lynch, M. (1985) Art and artifact in laboratory science: a study of shop work and shop talk. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul
Pool. R. (1996) Vragen om te sterven: euthanasie in een Nederlands ziekenhuis. Rotterdam: WYT-Uitgeefgroep
Ragin, C.C. (1994) Constructing social research: the unity and diversity of method. Thousand Oaks: Pine Forge Press
Sudnow, D. (1967) Passing on: the social organization of dying. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall
Whyte, W.F. (1943) Street Corner Society: The Social Structure of an Italian Slum. Chicago: University of Chicago Press (Sec.Ed. 1955)
Wieder, D.L. (1974) Language and social reality: the case of telling the convict code. The Hague: Mouton
Whyte Light Douglas Pool Sudnow Wieder Lynch
(Partial) TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION: CORNERVILLE AND ITS PEOPLE xvii
PART I. CORNER BOYS AND COLLEGE BOYS
I. Doc and His Boys 3
1. The Members of the Gang 3
2. Bowling and Social Ranking 14
3. The Nortons and the Aphrodite Club 25
4. Doc's Political Campaign 35
5. Disintegration 42
II. CHICK AND HIS CLUB 52
1. The Story of Chick Morelli 52
2. Organizing the Club 56
3. Social Activities 60
4. Opposition to Chick 66
5. The Second Season 70
6. Disintegration 78
7. Republican Politics 86
8. Chick Morelli's Career 89
III. SOCIAL STRUCTURE AND SOCIAL MOBILITY 94
1. The Nature of the Groups 94
2. The Social Role of the Settlement House 98
3. Loyalty and Social Mobility 104
PART II. RACKETEERS AND POLITICIANS
IV. THE SOCIAL STRUCTURE OF RACKETEERING 111
1. History of the Rackets 111
2. Organization of the Policy Racket 115
3. Relations with the Police 123
4. The Racketeer in His Social Setting 140
V. THE RACKETEER IN THE CORNERVILLE S. AND A. CLUB 147
1. Tony Cataldo and the Shelby Street Boys 147
2. Organizing the Club 150
3. Reorganizing the Club 153
4. The Political Issue 159
5. The Crisis and Tony Cataldo 170
6. Tony's Beano Party 180
7. The New Administration 182
8. Carlo and Tony 189
VI. POLITICS AND THE SOCIAL STRUCTURE 194
1. The Changing Nature of Political Organization 194
2. The Political Career 205
3. Organizing the Campaign 214
4. Political Rallies 225
5. Election Day 235
6. The Nature of Political Obligations 240
PART III. CONCLUSION
1. The Gang and the Individual 255
2. The Social Structure 269
3. The Problem of Cornerville 272
C 0 N T E N T S
Part I BECOMING A PSYCHIATRIST
1 The Psychiatric Domain 3
2 Getting into Psychiatry 23
3 Graduate Training in Psychiatry 47
4 Experiencing the First Year 65
5 A Sociological Calendar of Psychiatric Socialization 111
Part II WHAT PSYCHIATRISTS LEARN
6 Managing Patients 129
7 Diagnosis 160
8 Case Conferences 186
9 Treating Suicide 207
10 Supervising Psychotherapy 218
Part III ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION
11 The Moral Career of the Psychiatric Resident 241
12 The Structure of Psychiatric Residency 259
13 Training for Uncertainty and Control 278
14 Narcissism and Training for Omnipotence 297
15 The Nature of Professional Socialization and Its Effects on Practice 308
16 Professional Training and the Future of Psychiatry 328
I Tables and Figures for "The Psychiatric Domain" 346
II Methods 355
III The Problem of Typing Residents by Ideology 371
1. The Emergence of Bareass Beach 19
2. Joining the Nude Beach 49
3. Heavy Sex 93
4. Voyeurs, Body Fetishists and Exhibitionists 113
5. Casual Sex 145
6. Politics and the Future of Nude Beaches 193
7. The Limits of Naturalness and the Future of the Nude Beach 223
Appendix: Getting the Nude Beach in Perspective 231
About the Authors 243
Woord vooraf 11
A translation of the book has been published as:
Robert Pool, Negotiating a Good Death: Euthanasia in the Netherlands. New York: Haworth Press, 2000 [Hard Cover: ISBN: 0-7890-1080-1; Soft Cover ISBN: 0-7890-1081-X]
For more information check: http://www.haworthpressinc.com:80/store/home.htm
In this translation a different strategy of chapter headings is used, naming a theme in abstract terms, rather than using a quote as in the original.
Preface. Euthanasia in the Netherlands: Twenty-Five Years of Debate
The Present Study
Chapter 1. Death and the Anthropologist: On the Problem of Studying Euthanasia
Chapter 2. Euthanasia According to the Rules
Chapter 3. Where the Responsibility Lies
Chapter 4. The Line Between Euthanasia and Symptom Alleviation
Chapter 5. Coping with Pressure from the Family
Chapter 6. A Reflexive Intermezzo
Chapter 7. Turning off Mr. Joost’s Respirator
Chapter 8. When Doctors Refuse a Euthanasia Request
Chapter 9. The Negotiation Process
Chapter 10. Unreported Euthanasia
Chapter 11. The Social Context of Euthanasia
Chapter 12. What is Euthanasia?
Appendix. Euthanasia Declaration
The setting of the Country Hospital 13
The Occurrence and Visibility of Death 33
Some Ecological and Occupational Considerations
Death and Dying as Social States of Affairs 61
On Bad News 117
Extensions Outside the Hospital 153
Notes on a Sociology of Mourning
An Overview 169
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Preface by Don H. Zimmerman 9
Rules as Explanations of Action 29
History and Organization of the Halfway House 46
Patterns of Resident Behavior 73
The Convict Code as an Explanation of Deviant Behavior 113
An Introduction to an Ethnomethodological Analysis of the Convict Code
'Telling the Code': Folk Sociology and Social Reality . 132
Persuasion and Reflexive Formulation 167
'Telling the Code' as a Guide to Perception: the Inner Structure of Social Reality 183
'Telling the Code' as an Exhibition of Order 215
1 Introduction: methodological issues in the study of scientific work 1
Part I Ethnographic accounts of shop work 23
2 The lab setting 25
3 Projects and the temporalization of lab inquiry 53
4 An archeology of artifact 81
Part II Agreement in laboratory shop talk 141
5 Laboratory shop talk 143
6 Two notions of agreement 179
7 Objects and objections: modifications of accounts of objects in laboratory shop talk 202
8 Conclusion 274
Appendix The transcript symbols 297