Stephen Hester died on 12 April 2014, aged 66, following a six month battle against cancer. Steve was a leading figure in the EM and CA research community for many years and was still actively researching when his illness took hold. He published work in several areas but will be best remembered for his contributions to Membership Categorisation Analysis. He championed Harvey Sacks’s work and did as much as anyone among UK-based sociologists to develop Sacks's legacy.
Steve was born in Romford, Essex and took his first degree, and then his PhD, at the University of Kent. After two years as a Research Associate at the University of Manchester, he held lecturing posts in sociology at the University of Central England and University of Northumbria. In 1985 he moved to Wilfrid Laurier University, Ontario, where he stayed until 1991. On returning to the UK he took up a post in the School of Social Sciences, Bangor University, Wales, initially as Lecturer, then Senior Lecturer, Reader and, finally, Professor of Sociology. He retired from Bangor University in 2009, but remained active in EM/CA research right up until his death.
Steve taught a wide range of courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, including Language, Identity and Interaction, Contemporary Sociological Theory, Qualitative Methods, Sociology of Language, and Schooling and Social Interaction. He was an inspirational teacher and supervisor; his students included several colleagues in the current EM/CA research community, such as Will Housley (Univ. of Cardiff), Richard Fitzgerald (Univ. of Queensland) and Sally Hester (Edge Hill University, Lancashire).
During his career, Steve published over forty journal articles and book chapters. He also co-authored or co-edited eight books. He worked with several research partners, most notably Peter Eglin and Dave Francis. With Eglin he published A Sociology of Crime; Culture in Action: Studies in Membership Categorisation Analysis and The Montreal Massacre: A Story of Membership Categorisation Analysis. With Francis he published An Invitation to Ethnomethodology: Language, Society and Interaction and Orders of Ordinary Action.
Steve was a regular attendee at EM/CA conferences, and with Dave Francis he organised two major conferences of the International Institute for Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis, in 2001 and 2003. At the first of these, Harold Garfinkel was the principal plenary speaker. Steve was an active member of the Manchester Ethnography Group and co-founder of the journal Ethnographic Studies. From 2002 he was joint Series Editor, with Dave Francis, of Directions in Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis, a major research series published by Ashgate Press.
Steve had three children, Laura and Daniel from his first marriage and Sally's daughter, Lydia. He married Sally in 2007. They bought a tiny cottage on Anglesey in North Wales and transformed it into a beautiful home. As well as sociology, they shared a love of gardening and the outdoors. Steve's other interests included art, jazz and crime fiction.
He will be hugely missed by all who knew him.
Eglin, Peter, Stephen Hester (1992) ‘Category, predicate and task: The pragmatics of practical action’, Semiotica 88: 243-68
Eglin, Peter, Stephen Hester (1999) Moral order and the Montreal massacre: a story of membership categorization analysis.’ In: Paul L. Jalbert, (Ed.) Media Studies: Ethnomethodological Approaches. Lanham, New York, Oxford: University Press of America: 195-230
Eglin, Peter, Stephen Hester (1999) “You’re all a bunch of feminists:” Categorization and the politics of terror in the Montreal Massacre’, Human Studies 22: 253-72
Eglin, Peter, Stephen Hester (2003) The Montreal Massacre A Story of Membership Categorization Analysis. Waterloo, ONT, Ca: Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Eglin, Peter, Stephen Hester (2010) ‘Présentation’. In Lena Jayyusi, Catégorisation et Ordre Moral. Tr. Michel Barthélémy. Collection Études Sociologiques. Paris: Economica: 17-42.
Francis, David, Stephen Hester (1997) ‘Reality analysis in a classroom storytelling’ British Journal of Sociology, 48: 95-112
Francis, David, Stephen Hester, ‘Le genre selon l’ethnométhodologie et l’analyse de conversation’. In: Louis Quéré et Zbigniew Smoreda (dir.) Le sexe du téléphone. Paris:Editions Hermes Science, [numéro 103 de la revue “Réseaux”] 215-51
Francis, David, Stephen Hester (2004) An Invitation to Ethnomethodology: Language, Society and Interaction. London etc. Sage Publications
Hester, Sally, Stephen Hester (2010) ‘Conversational actions and category relations: An analysis of a children’s argument’, Discourse Studies 12: 33-48.
Hester, Sally; Stephen Hester (2012) ‘Categorial occasionality and transformation: Analyzing culture in action’, Human Studies 35/4: 563-581
Hester, Stephen (1992) ‘Recognizing references to deviance in referral talk’. In: Graham Watson, R.M. Seiler, eds. Text in Context: Contributions to ethnomethodology. London: Sage: 156-74
Hester, Stephen (1994) ‘Les catégories en contexte’. In: B. Fradin, L. Quéré, J. Widmer, eds. (1994) L’enquête sur les catégories. Paris: École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales [Raisons pratiques: Épistémologie, sociologie, théorie sociale/5]: 219-42
Hester, Stephen (1996) ‘Laughter in its place’. In: Paton, George E.C., Powell, Chris, Wagg, Stephen, eds., The Social Faces of Humour. Practices and Issues. Hants: Athenaeum Press: 243-269.
Hester, Stephen (1998) ‘Describing “deviance” in school: recognizably educational psychological problems’. In: Charles Antaki & Sue Widdicombe, eds. Identities in Talk. London, Sage: 133-50
Hester, Stephen (2002) ‘Bringing it all back home: selecting topic, category and location in TV News Programmes’, in S. Hester and W. Housley, eds. Language, interaction and national identity: studies in the social organisation of national identity in talk-in-interaction, Aldershot: Ashgate, 16-37
Hester, Stephen (2009) ‘Ethnomethodology: Respecifying the problem of social order’. In: Michael Hviid Jacobsen, ed. Encountering the everyday: an introduction to the sociologies of the unnoticed. Houndmills Basingstoke, Hampshire, U.K. & New York: Palgrave Macmillan: 234-56
Hester, Stephen, Peter Eglin, eds. (1997) Culture in action: Studies in membership categorization analysis. Washington, D.C.: University Press of America
Hester, Stephen, Peter Eglin (1997) ‘Membership categorization analysis: an introduction. In: Stephen Hester, Peter Eglin, eds., Culture in action: studies in membership categorization analysis. Washington, D.C.: University Press of America: 1-24
Hester, Stephen, Peter Eglin (1997) ‘The reflexive constitution of category, predicate and context in two settings’. In: Stephen Hester, Peter Eglin, eds., Culture in action: studies in membership categorization analysis. Washington, D.C.: University Press of America: 25-48
Hester, Stephen, Richard Fitzgerald (1999) ‘Category, predicate and contrast: some organizational features in a radio talk show’. In: Paul L. Jalbert, (Ed.) Media Studies: Ethnomethodological Approaches. Lanham, New York, Oxford: University Press of America: 171-94
Hester, Stephen, David Francis (1994) ‘Doing data: the local organization of a sociological interview’, British Journal of Sociology, 45: 675-95.
Hester, Stephen, David Francis (1997) ‘Reality analysis in a classroom storytelling’, British Journal of Sociology 48: 95-112
Hester, Stephen, David Francis, eds. (2000) Local Educational Order: Ethnomethodological studies of knowledge in action. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins [Pragmatics & Beyond NS 73]
Hester, Stephen, David Francis (2000) ‘Category play in a school staff-room’, Ethnographic Studies 5: 42-55
Hester, Stephen, David Francis (2000) ‘Ethnomethodology, Conversation Analysis and “Institutional Talk”’, Text, 20/3: 373-90
Hester, Stephen, David Francis (2000) ‘Analysing “Institutional Talk”: a Reply to Watson’, Text, 20: 391-413
Hester, Stephen, David Francis (2000). ‘Ethnomethodology and local educational order’. In S. Hester & D. Francis, eds., Local educational order: ethnomethodological studies of knowledge in action. Amsterdam: John Benjamins: 1-17.
Hester, Stephen, David Francis (2001) ‘Is institutional talk a phenomenon? Reflections on ethnomethodology and applied conversation analysis’. In: Alec McHoul and Mark Rapley, eds. How to Analyse Talk in Institutional Settings: A Casebook of Methods. London: Continuum: 206-17
Hester, Stephen, David Francis (2002) ‘Category Play in a School Staff-room’, Ethnographic Studies, 5: 42-55
Hester. Stephen, David Francis (2003) ‘Analysing visually available mundane order: a walk to the supermarket’. In: Mike Ball (ed.) Image Work, a Special Issue of Visual Studies 18/1 ( April 2003): 36-46
Hester, Stephen, David Francis, eds. (2007) Orders of ordinary action: respecifying sociological knowledge. Aldershot: Ashgate [Series: Directions in Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis. Series editors D. Francis and S. Hester]
Hester, Stephen, David Francis (2007) ‘Analysing orders of ordinary action’ In: Stephen Hester, David Francis, eds. Orders of ordinary action: respecifying sociological knowledge. Aldershot: Ashgate: 3-12
Hester, Stephen, William Housley, eds. (2002) Language, Interaction and National Identity: Studies in the social organisation of national identity in talk-in-interaction. Aldershot: Ashgate
Hester, Stephen, William Housley (2002) ‘Introduction: ethnomethodology
and national identity’, in S. Hester, W. Housley, eds. Language, interaction
and national identity: studies in the social organisation of national identity
in talk-in-interaction, Aldershot: Ashgate, 1-15.