Sociology Index


Mundane Reasoning, Conversational Analysis

Membership categories are ordinary descriptions and identifications of persons and collections of persons, which are used and applied by members on a commonplace and routine basis, in order to organize the social world in which they live. Membership Categorization Analysis shows how the categorial order is realized through observation of the visual scene. The human practice of perceiving people, places, and events as members of categories, and to use these to explain actions. The universality of membership categorization are documented as parts of the anthropological and sociological canons by David Emile Durkheim and Mauss.

On Membership Categorization: Us, Them and Doing Violence in Political Discourse - Ivan Leudar, Victoria Marsland UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER - Jirí Nekvapil, CHARLES UNIVERSITY - Discourse Society, Vol. 15, No. 2-3, (2004) Membership Categorization Analysis is used to establish how the key figures involved in the conflict represented these events and the participants in them. We analyse public addresses made soon after the attacks by the US President George W. Bush, the British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Osama bin Laden of Al Qaeda. Each speaker distinguished 'us' from 'them' and formulated this distinction so as to justify past violent actions and to prepare grounds for future ones. Membership categorizations were not done in isolation from each other, but were instead networked. We discuss the relation between membership categorizations, presentations of happenings and violent actions, prior and subsequent and we extend our concept of a 'dialogical network.'

The reconsidered model of membership categorization analysis - William Housley
Cardiff University, Richard Fitzgerald, Cardiff University
This article investigates the role that ethnomethodology has played in sociological analyses of language and interaction. The work of Harvey Sacks is investigated in relation to membership categorization and the analysis of talk-in-interaction. The authors focus on how this strand of work has been developed in recent years and now represents a powerful apparatus for conducting sociological analyses of interaction in a diverse range of settings in a way that is sensitive to issues related to social organization, normativity, identity, macro-micro synthesis, knowledge and developments in social theory.

Observation and membership categorization: Recognizing normal appearances in public space - Andrew Carlin, Library and Information Studies, University College Dublin (Ireland)
Abstract: An ethnographic vignette presents a sociological problem: the observer categorizes a member as a pickpocket, even though no crime was actually witnessed. Membership Categorization Analysis shows how the categorial order is realized through observation of the visual scene.
The functions and universality of membership categorization and classification systems are famously documented as parts of the anthropological and sociological canons (Durkheim 1971; Durkheim and Mauss 1963). Processes of membership categorization and classification, of people and things, are ubiquitous aspects of our lives (Bowker and Star 1999). Membership Categorization is a routinized, mundanely available feature of academic, bureaucratic and everyday environments (Rose 1942). The use of membership categories is culturally methodic. Membership categories are features of the use of natural language. Membership Categorization Analysis is an attitude towards and explication of this aspect of people's cultural logic.

Other-initiated repair and membership categorization - some conversational events that trigger linguistic and regional membership categorization - Maria Egbert,
IBKM, Universität Oldenburg
Abstract: The practices of membership categorization are inferred from different kinds of structural elaborateness beyond the basic two-part repair sequence. CA is shown to provide analytic tools which are highly suitable to detecting and describing practices of membership categorizing along regional or linguistic lines both in so-called native/native and native/nonnative interaction.

Categories in action: person-reference and membership categorization - Emanuel A. Schegloff, University of California, Los Angeles, Discourse Studies, Vol. 9, No. 4, (2007)
'Reference to persons' and 'membership categorization' are quite distinct sets of practices, with most reference to persons not being done by membership categories, and most uses of membership categorization devices being in the service of actions other than referring. First, to establish what is going on interactionally without respect to the mentioning of persons, and then as exercises in examining the various ways person-reference and membership categorization can figure in a stretch of interaction

Montreal Massacre, The: A Story of Membership Categorization Analysis - Peter Eglin, Stephen Hester
The Montreal Massacre: A Story of Membership Categorization Analysis adopts ethnomethodology to analyze how the murder of women by a lone gunman at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal was presented to the public via media publication over a two-week period in 1989. What the murders became, therefore, was an expression of the methods used to describe and evaluate them, and central to these methods was membership category analysis.

Studying the organization in action: Membership categorization and interaction analysis
Author: Psathas G, Human Studies, Volume 22, Number 2-4, October 1999
Abstract: A current set of concerns in ethnomethodology and conversation analysis includes the question of how conversation analysis (CA) can deal with studies of social structure or studies of talk in institutional settings.
Two particular instances are examined: a ski school and a package delivery service. Membership categorization is shown to be a complex, on-going, interactive accomplishment.

Enrolling the Citizen in Sustainability: Membership Categorization, Morality and Civic Participation - Journal Human Studies, Publisher Springer Netherlands
Jennifer Summerville and Barbara Adkins
Abstract: Using Membership Categorization Analysis, we explicate how the categorization procedures in the Foreword of a draft regional planning policy interactionally produce the identity of the citizen and civic values and obligations in relation to geographic place and institutional categories.

Membership categorization and professional insanity ascription - Carles Roca-Cuberes
UNIVERSITAT POMPEU FABRA, SPAIN, Discourse Studies, Vol. 10, No. 4, 543-570 (2008)
Following Sacks's model of membership categorization analysis (MCA), this article analyzes the discursive resources that psychiatrists may draw on to achieve some conclusion regarding their patients' psychopathological status. The analysis shows that the process that may lead to insanity ascription/exoneration in psychiatric interviews basically involves the use of mundane reasoning, commonsense reasoning.

Membership Categorization Devices Under Construction: Social Identity Boundary Maintenance in Everyday Discourse. - Nilan, Pam - Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, v18 n1 p69-94 1995
Argues that processes of evaluating and assigning membership of categories within given collectives may be identified as operating across diverse social contexts. The maintenance of social identity boundaries is dependent on knowing the status of one's own category membership and accomplishing this membership through the interactional work of hierarchical categorizations in writing and talk.

Mentality or morality? Membership categorization, multiple meanings and mass murder. Rapley M, McCarthy D, McHoul A.
School of Psychology, Murdoch University, Western Australia, Australia.
A central topic for social psychology is how we identify, categorize or represent ourselves to ourselves and to each other. Drawing on membership categorization analysis, we argue here for an attention to ordinary members' methods of categorizing the self. Where public accountings for what 'makes up' a particular person are tied to an otherwise inexplicable but ultra-newsworthy event, we find that lay and professional methods of accounting are remarkably congruent. One of the reasons for this congruence, we suggest, is that the membership categorization of persons is a fundamentally moral matter. Devices for producing everyday moral accounts, in actual practical circumstances, precede and ground, for example, 'technical', 'clinical' or 'scientific' judgments. We conclude that describing such routine cultural devices can be a central goal of social psychology.

A tutorial on membership categorization - Emanuel A. Schegloff,
UCLA Department of Sociology, 264 Haines Hall, Box 951551, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1551,
Abstract: After setting Sacks work on membership categorization in its historical and analytical context, and suggesting some ways of reading the original texts, I sketch the major components of membership categorization devices (MCDs). These discussions lead to some consequences for research practice both for social science generally and for conversation-analytic practice in particular, and to an initial treatment of some problems that arise in advancing this line of conversational analysis research.