Introduction to Harold Garfinkel's Ethnomethodological "Misreading" of Aron Gurwitsch on the Phenomenal Field

Human Studies 44 (1):1-17 (2021)
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This article is the editors’ introduction to the transcript of a lecture that Harold Garfinkel delivered to a seminar in 1993. Garfinkel extensively discusses the relevance of Aron Gurwitsch’s phenomenological treatment of Gestalt theory for ethnomethodology. Garfinkel uses the term “misreading” to signal a respecification of Gurwitsch’s phenomenological investigations, and particularly his conceptions of contextures, functional significations, and phenomenal fields, so that they become compatible with detailed observations and descriptions of social actions and interactions performed in situ. Garfinkel begins with Gurwitsch’s demonstrations with line drawings and other abstract examples, and suggests how they can be used to suggest original procedures for investigating the vicissitudes of embodied practical actions in the lifeworld. This introduction to the lecture aims to provide some background on the scope of Gurwitsch’s phenomenological critique and elaboration of Gestalt theory and Garfinkel’s “misreading” of it in terms of his own conceptions of indexicality and accountability, and ethnomethodological investigations of the production of social order.



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