(noun) The study of how people make sense of and navigate their everyday world through orderly norms and rituals.

Example: Ethnomethodologists have studied behavior change by breaking a norm such as facing the back of an elevator and observing how other passengers react.

Audio Pronunciation: (eth·no·meth·od·ol·o·gy)

Download Audio Pronunciation: ethnomethodology.mp3

Usage Notes:

  • Plural: ethnomethodologies
  • Term coined by Harold Garfinkel (1917–2011) in Studies in Ethnomethodology (1967).
  • An (noun) ethnomethodologist studies society from the (adjective) ethnomethodologic or (adjective) ethnomethodological perspective to understand social interactions (adverb) ethnomethodologically.

Related Quotations:

  • “[A] number of sociologists regard ethnomethodology as a frivolous approach to studying human behavior because it does not examine the impact of macrolevel social institutions—such as the economy and education—on people’s expectancies. Women’s studies scholars suggest that ethnomethodologists fail to do do what they claim to do: look at how social realities are created. Rather, they rake ascribed statuses (such as race, class, gender, and age) as ‘given,’ not as socially created realities” (Kendall 2006:129).

Additional Information:

Related Terms: 



Kendall, Diane. 2006. Sociology in Our Times: The Essentials. 5th ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth.