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Interaction Order as Cultural Sociology within Urban Ethnography

Urban Ethnography

ISBN: 978-1-78769-034-9, eISBN: 978-1-78769-033-2

ISSN: 1047-0042

Publication date: 22 October 2019


Classic urban ethnography has often viewed urbanization and the urban condition as pathological and the city as disorganized, with urban areas producing problems to be solved through the managerial control of urban space. This chapter presents an alternative view, introducing an Interaction Order approach within urban ethnography. This way of studying culture builds on the work of Emile Durkheim (1893), W. E. B. Du Bois (1903), Harold Garfinkel (1967), Erving Goffman (1983), and Anne Rawls (1987). Interaction Orders are shared rules and expectations that members of a group use to coordinate their daily social relations and sense-making, which take the form of taken-for-granted practices that are specific to a place and its circumstances. The power of this social order, which is constructed by the interactions among participants themselves, renders outsiders’ interventions counterproductive. Understanding local interaction orders enables ethnographers to interpret problems differently and imagine solutions that work with local culture.



Duck, W. and Kiefer, M. (2019), "Interaction Order as Cultural Sociology within Urban Ethnography", Urban Ethnography (Research in Urban Sociology, Vol. 16), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 113-130.



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