Norms are forever problematic. Scientific statements are
product of an intersubjective dialog with validity claims about problematic situations of
the Social World.
Problematic is a term used by ethnomethodology
and put to effective use by Dorothy Smith to describe as a problem of interest that which
is normally not seen as a problem because it is taken for granted.
Smith argues that, the everyday world is
problematic. Smith argues that the everyday world is neither transparent nor
obvious. That social relations are organized from elsewhere.
By bracketing one's own membership in the world a
researcher makes the commonsense and taken-for-granted world problematic.
By making the everyday and ordinary problematic a
researcher is able to uncover the structure and dynamic of the everyday.
Institutional ethnography is a method of inquiry pioneered
by Dorothy E. Smith. Institutional ethnography is a research strategy which emerges from
Smith's wide-ranging explorations of the problematic of the everyday world.
Everyday World As Problematic: A Feminist Sociology
Ethnography, Institutions, and the Problematic of the
Peter R. Grahame
Journal Human Studies ISSN 0163-8548 (Print) 1572-851X (Online)
Abstract This essay describes institutional ethnography as a method of inquiry pioneered
by Dorothy E. Smith, and introduces a collection of papers which make distinctive
contributions to the development of this novel form of investigation. Institutional
ethnography is presented as a research strategy which emerges from Smith's wide-ranging
explorations of the problematic of the everyday world. Smith's conception of the everyday
world as problematic involves a critical departure from the concepts and procedures of
more conventional sociologies. She argues for an alternative sociology which begins with
the standpoint of the actor in everyday life, rather than from within a professional
sociological discourse aligned with the society's ruling institutions. The familiar
sociologies of everyday life do not suffice for this purpose, since they deal with local
settings and social worlds, but stop short of examining how these are knitted into broader
forms of social organization. In contrast, institutional ethnography examines how the
scenes of everyday life are shaped by forms of social organization which cannot be fully
grasped from within those scenes. The principal tasks of institutional ethnography include
describing the coordination of activities in the everyday world, discovering how
ideological accounts define those activities in relation to institutional imperatives, and
examining the broader social relations in which local sites of activity are embedded. The
four papers which follow demonstrate that specific contributions to institutional
ethnography can be made in relation to a wide array of topics, methods, and interests. -
The Everyday Classroom As Problematic: A Feminist
Author: Gallagher, Kathleen
Source: Curriculum Inquiry, Volume 30, Number 1, Spring 2000, pp. 71-81(11)
Abstract: The title of this article is borrowed and adapted from Dorothy Smith's
authoritative text, The Everyday World as Problematic: A Feminist Sociology.
The basic premise of Smith's work is that sociology, as a discipline, has operated largely
outside women's experiences and has, despite this, been used as a means of measuring,
understanding, and articulating the experiences of women. Likewise, the everyday
classroom has traditionally operated within patriarchal structures and used
practices which have not taken up girls' experiences as distinct and unique. Therefore,
problematizing the pedagogical lens, as Smith has problematized the social sciences we
have used to study human relations, leads to, in Smith's case, new feminist research
strategies in the field, and in the case of pedagogy, new classroom practices and a view
of curriculum which addresses girls' experiences in necessary ways. Conventions and
strategies used in a single-sex, Grade 10 drama classroom are described in order that the
propositions concerning inclusive, feminist pedagogy are grounded in classroom practice. -