Sociology Index


Member is a central term in ethnomethodology theory and replaces terms like status position or role in structural theories. From a structural perspective an individual actor is examined according to their structural characteristics (gender, age, ethnicity, class) and is assumed to behave in accordance with these structural characteristics. The subjectivity of the actor is insignificant. The term ‘member’ accomplishes this. Ethnomethodology also refers to membership categories (things like teacher, mother, employee) and identifies membership categorization devices and rules of application (things like the economy rule and the consistency rule) as a form of ethnomethodological analysis.

Competency and participation in acquiring a mastery of language: a reconsideration of the idea of membership - Michael A. Forrester and David Reason. Abstract: For ethnomethodology and conversation analysis the concept of 'member' or 'participant' remains central. The aim of this paper is to consider a number of ideas originally outlined by Garfinkel and Sacks (1970), and by way of extension and clarification, discuss transcript extracts from recorded everyday interactions between two parents and their pre-school child. We close by noting that one of Garfinkel and Sacks' (1970) particular insights was that in displaying mastery of language, speakers display membership, but mastery of language is itself a concerted accomplishment in occasion precisely because speakers display membership by not drawing attention to the fact that they are indeed a member.