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Title: Ethnoarchaeology and undefined investigations
Authors: Laurier, Eric
Philo, Chris
Issue Date: 2004
Citation: Laurier, E.and Philo, C. (2004) Ethnoarchaeology and undefined investigations, Environment and Planning A, volume 36(3) March, pages 421 - 436
Publisher: Pion Ltd
Abstract: For us in the event of writing this we hear ‘what next’ as something we have been planning ought to happen. It means we will finally begin considering the affinities and complementarities between Foucauldian historical investigations and the studies of practical action and practical reasoning, otherwise known as ethnomethodology. Foucault’s work has been enthusiastically absorbed by numerous disciplines, raising his status and influence on the humanities and social science to the degree where he is thought of in some quarters as the Karl Marx of the twentieth century. By comparison, ethnomethodology has been treated as something of a curiosity in the development of the social sciences, its practitioners pursuing ‘studies’ with a missionary zeal and dismissing attempts to integrate their findings, methods or conceptual clarifications into other programmes of social, cultural and psychological research1. Their studies are, by their self-assessment, asymmetrically alternate to, it would seem, any other kind of project in the social sciences: ‘[t]he following of the methodologies of one makes the other ‘disappear’: the methodologies are radical alternatives to each other, fundamentally disjunctive rather than being complimentary or reconcilable by means of an additive formula which juxtaposes and purportedly articulates the two’ (Watson 1994; p177). With such warnings about the ethno-inquiries of Garfinkel, Sacks and others in mind, we nevertheless wish to argue in sympathy with McHoul (1986; 1996) for the particular appropriateness of reconciling ethnomethodology with the work of Foucault. Indeed as Watson (1994; p117) continues, ‘there can certainly be no a priori objection to each and any reconciliation, as much of course depends upon the logic of the particular cases in point’2. We might in fact argue that by its very popularity, Foucault’s work has suffered much more than ethnomethodology from being skimmed for its ‘big ideas’ (i.e. panopticism in particular, see Philo 1992 where Chris complains about the only Foucault known to geographers being ‘the geometer of power’.), then affiliated and all too often inappropriately added to various theoretical frameworks in the social sciences and cultural studies.
Keywords: Human Geography
Appears in Collections:Geography publications

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