Ethnomethodoloy is an approach originally developed by Harold Garfinkel in the 1950s which later went on to influence Conversation Analysis. Garkinfel used the method to study financial accounting but the approach has moved on from this point dramatically. Ethnomethodology is concerned with particular socio-cultural groups using methods which within certain systematic practises. Ethnomethodology does not attempt to explain or evaluate social orders or methods but rather us used in ethnographic study to help describe people’s methods in everyday activities.
Ethnomethodology is based on the idea that interactions occurs within a consensus of the norm and shared understanding of the interaction processes. These norms and expectations are unspoken cannot be understood by asking others as they are so complex and subtle they are difficult to fully articulate.
One way that ethnomethodologists use to attempt to understand the unspoken norms within society is to break convention and study the responses by others. The approach relies on the belief that everyone holds the same standards of norms and expectations of behaviour. For example in one classic study college students were asked to behave as if they were guests in their own homes and record their families’ responses. Some families believed a joke was being played on the, others that the student was hiding something or wanted something as they were being so polite.