Garfinkel Recognized for a Lifetime of Achievement
by Doug Maynard, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Harold Garfinkel, Emeritus Professor at the University of California-Los Angeles, was the first recipient of the ASA Section on Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis award for lifetime achievement. He was given this award for his ground-breaking contributions to the field of sociology and ethnomethodology more specifically.
Garfinkel’s 1967 book, Studies in Ethnomethodology, went through nine printings by Prentice Hall, and after 40 years is still in print at Paradigm Press. A recent Web of Knowledge search on this monograph turned up an astonishing 3,000 references. Since the Studies publication, Garfinkel continued to publish in various journals— Social Psychology Quarterly, Sociological Theory, Philosophy of the Social Sciences among them—and in edited collections. He has recently published two additional monographs— Ethnomethodology’s Program (2002) and Seeing Sociologically (2005). His publications continue to spur secondary accounts in textbooks of many kinds as well as citations in ongoing primary research.
It is an understatement to say that the field of ethnomethodology, and Garfinkel’s work in particular, have profoundly inspired all areas of the discipline. This includes theory, sociology of science and technology, social psychology (Garfinkel was the recipient of the 1996 Cooley- Mead award), sociology of social problems, sociology of gender (consider Garfinkel’s classic study of a transsexual and his influence on standpoint epistemology), and many other areas.
There are few, if any, contemporary sociologists whose towering effects on our discipline compare to those of Garfinkel. Gazing into the crystal ball, it is safe to say that his work will continue to be recognized and used in a variety of domains for years to come. Simply put, he is one of the leading sociologists of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. In the view of the Section, Garfinkel was more than deserving of the Lifetime Achievement Award, which was celebrated at a wonderful reception at the Section’s award ceremony last August.