Ethnomethodology (EM) is an approach to communication research that originated in the work of American sociologist Harold Garfinkel (1917–2011). EM is the empirical study of common sense—how ordinary people use a surprisingly extensive and detailed repertoire of basic bodily skills to communicate with each other. Communication researchers using EM investigate these skill sets in order to better understand how they are ordinarily and typically organized in a particular society, and how some groups of people in the society may display alternative ways of using them. Such research has a variety of real-world applications. For instance, EM can be used to identify improved ways of acquiring new skills, such as students learning a second language, doctors learning how to communicate more effectively with patients, and ...

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