Ethnomethodology as Radical Sociology: An Expansive Appreciation of Melvin Pollner’s ‘Constitutive and Mundane Versions of Labeling Theory’

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Human Studies

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ethnomethodology, radical sociology, Melvin Pollner, "Constitutive and Mundane Versions of Labeling Theory"


Other Sociology | Sociology


The article discusses various issues related to ethnomethodology as radical sociology. Melvin Pollner's article on constitutive and mundane versions of labeling theory, appeared in the very first volume of the journal "Human Studies." Even though Pollner packaged his analysis as something of an ethnomethodological intervention in the labeling theory literature of the sixties and seventies, his analysis nevertheless holds up remarkably well today. Part of its longevity is due to the fact that labeling theory is still very much indebted to pre-eighties scholarship. But part of this is because Pollner's engagement with labeling theory was much more than that. With all the contributions to its name labeling theory had become by the mid sixties a singularly important contribution to the sociology of deviance. Ethnomethodologists might want to continue to treat many alternates as incommensurable alternates, but in some cases it will be possible, interesting, and perhaps even rewarding, to illustrate that ethnomethodology can serve as a corrective, or a complement, or in some other relevant relation. A belated interest in Pollner's understanding of ethnomethodology in its relation to sociology could therefore serve one well today and in years to come, illustrating how ethnomethodology and its sociological alternates might all be richer rather than poorer for their evitably problematic co-existence.