History vs. Genealogy: Why Ethnomethodology was Forgotten in the Debate on Social-Scientific Reflexivity

Andreas Langenohl


This paper addresses the almost complete disappearance of ethnomethodological approaches from the reflexivity debate in social-scientific theory and methodology since the 1980s. This disappearance is remarkable because many of the tropes and questions characterizing the debate around reflexivity had already been articulated in ethnomethodology. The main reason for this neglect, it is argued, is the productive effect it had, as it helped later debates find answers to the epistemological challenge of postmodern approaches entering sociological discourse from the direction of anthropology and science and technology studies. Those answers could never have stabilized in the presence of the fundamental ethnomethodological presupposition that reflexivity is an ontological feature of social reality. The paper ends with a number of suggestions concerning a revision of reflexivity in the social sciences, highlighting the performative aspects of social meaning, especially social-scientific meaning.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs090344


reflexivity; epistemology; ethnomethodology; postmodernism; poststructuralism; modernism

Copyright (c) 2009 Andreas Langenohl

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