Plenary talk by Kenneth Liberman

Kenneth Liberman | University of Oregon & University of Southern Denmark
Ken Liberman is Professor Emeritus from the University of Oregon.  He has a long research career in ethnomethodology and has done research in many different environments, from his early research among aboriginal people in Australia to many years of engagement with Tibetan philosophical culture.  In his most recent book, More Studies in Ethnomethodology (2013), he presents a number of EM studies and explores – among other topics – his interest for the phenomenological roots of EM. Ken Liberman has for many years been interested in how coffee tasters establish objectivity in their description of taste, working with coffee tasters all over the world. His recent studies of congregational work of surfers in the water have brought EM together with his lifelong love for surfing. Ken Liberman is Hans Christian Andersen visiting professor at the University of Southern Denmark 2013-2016


Studying Objectivation Practices
Ethnomethodology’s sight is directed to identifying and describing how social organization emerges from the mundane local details of everyday life in the way that it really does develop. Discounting voluntarism and rational choice, Garfinkel has said that affairs are self-organizing and that society consists of authochthonous orders, and he has recommended that we turn our attention to the neglected practical objectivity of social facts as they operate in a course of events because these practical objectivities are tools with which these events set up their orderlinesses.

I elucidate these practical objectivities by outlining an arational, collaborative model of objectivation practices that respects the local myopia of participants who are engaged in developing organizational matters, immanent affairs that can render parties anonymous participants in their own quotidian life, and where much of the thinking is a public activity. I review a number of interactional settings – games-with-rules, Tibetan debaters, and professional coffee tasters – where order is found and sense is discovered and developed as the tendentious concerted work of local practices of objectivating social action.