Title

From Concepts to Methods On the Observability of Inequality

Publication Title

Journal of Contemporary Ethnography

Publication Date

6-2006

Document Type

Article

DOI

10.1177/0891241605285097

Keywords

inequality, social construction, ethnomethodology, reification, intersubjectivity

Disciplines

Other Sociology | Sociology

Abstract

Inequality can be understood as a social fact, or as a concept used to claim the existence of a social fact. These two orientations are intimately related; inequality is a social fact only insofar as people use the concept of “inequality” according to social conventions for its use, thereby contributing to the meaningful, socially structured, and meaningfully socially structured character of society. A social constructionist approach to inequality requires attending to the concept “inequality” as a cultural, sociolinguistic resource used to understand and describe social relations. Such use simultaneously recognizes and accomplishes inequality as an intersubjective reality. By attending to inequality as a concept, the empirical study of inequality can be grounded conceptuallyin the natural language which inevitably informs analytic as well as lay methods of reasoning, and grounded empirically by reference to situated, practical language use as a constitutive feature of social identity, social relations, and social problems.


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