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Ethnomethodology is the sociological tradition founded by Harold Garfinkel, a doctoral student supervised by Talcott Parsons (1902–1979) at Harvard University in the 1940s. Garfinkel taught in the sociology department of the University of California at Los Angeles between 1954 and 1987, and he remains active as an emeritus professor. After stimulating much debate and controversy as a rigorously empirical, and yet antipositivist “alternate” discipline, ethnomethodology has been influential in contemporary sociology. The key theoretical ideas were developed through empirical studies of legal settings, although relatively few law and society researchers have engaged with these in a thoroughgoing manner.

Garfinkel became interested in the taken-forgranted communicative and interpretive skills and the commonsense knowledge employed by jurors in reaching decisions, while listening to the taped deliberations on the ...

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