Environment, Space, Place

Volume 2, Issue 1, Spring 2010

Tom Conroy
Pages 61-79

Culturally “Doped” or Not?
On Ethnomethodology, Critical Theory and the Exegesis of Everyday Life Practices

Everyday life as a sociological/philosophical concept is widely considered to be both a familiar and yet taken-for-granted subject matter for analytic investigation. In considering the works of three leading scholars, Michel de Certeau, Harold Garfinkel, and John Fiske, one can look toward possible referents to this term. Starting with Certeau’s critical semiotics of the everyday, with its emphasis on such distinctions as place and space as well as strategies and tactics, the everyday can be theorized in terms of contrasts between discourse and practice. Similarly, with Garfinkel’s ethnomethodological emphasis on the practical actor and Fiske’s ethnographic and cultural studies emphasis on local meaning, the everyday can be conceptualized in terms of distinctions between lived order and a theorized version of the everyday. By examining the approaches of these three scholars as well as drawing upon a visual examination of everyday urban scenes, the article concludes with an affirmation of a multi-conceptual and methodological approach to the everyday and with recognition of the everyday as a signifier loaded with a multitude of possibly overlapping meanings.