Gender and Language in Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis First group Class VII A
Gender as an everyday accomplishment Ethnomethodology is the study of the mundane activities, referred to as “method”, that “members” (people) use to make sense of everyday life and accomplish action (Garfinkel, 1967). Agnes made more explicit he usually implicit cultural norms and rules about gender. Garfinkel referred to these norms and rules of gender as members’ ‘natural attitudes’ towards gender.
continue • Kessler and McKenna summarized Garfinkel’s description of members’ natural attitudes towards gender as consisting of the following eight rules: • 1. female and male are the two and only two genders • 2. gender is stable and enduring. • 3. An essential aspect of gender is one’s genitals. • 4. anyone who does not clearly belong to one of the two gender categories is a joke or abnormal • 5. there are no transfer from one gender to another with the exception of pretences. • 6. everyone belong to one of the two gender categories- there is no such thing as someone without a gender • 7. two and only two gender categories is a naturally’ occurring fact. • 8. membership in one of the two gender categories is ‘natural’ an inevitable
Gender Performativity The idea that we ‘do being a woman’ or ‘do being a man’ is not confined to ethnomethodology inspired approaches to gender. The Austinian legacy is that he distinguished between two types of utterances: those that are descriptively true or false (e.g. all trees are plants), and those that do things (e.g. I now pronounce you husband and wife). The latter kind of utterances Austin called performatives because by their pronunciation an act is performed.
Conversation Analysis (CA) Conversation analysis as an analytic approach developed from ethnomethodology. CA’s specific focused on investigated language and social interaction distinguishes it from ethnomethodology’s more general examination of how people understand their social worlds.
Conversational Organisation Heritage (1984) details a body of conversation analytic work that has established some of structural features and norms organizing social action such as request. That work will be summarized here because it provides the background needed to understand Kitzinger and Frith’s (1999) work which illustrates the usefulness of CA to feminist work on an issue of concern to the field of gender and language. Kitzinger and Frith’s word is interesting because it develops a further critique of misscomunication theory – the idea that man and women speak different language, which lead to misunderstanding in cross-gender interaction, which, in turn, cause confusion, frustration, and tension.
Preference Structure The structure of a preferred action is straight forward. The reply is simple and made with no hesitation. An interesting social psychological aspect of the dis-preferred response shows sensitivity to the other speaker. Thus, the normative structure of preferred and dis-preferred responses promotes a sense of social solidarity.
Conversation Analysis and Gender and Language Kitzinger and Frith (1997) found that the young woman commonly reported finding it difficult to refuse request for sex. The difficulty associated which saying no is, as already mention, evidenced by the organizational structure of dis-referred action. That is, declining a request or an invitation, event, when it is of a non-sexual, typically envolves being in direct and hesitate.
Gender as Context in Conversation Analysis Gender has been regarded as one of the characteristics of the speakers that contributes to the features of the interactional context that may influence language use. For example, whether conversation is held between same-sex or mixed-sex groups is viewed as a variable that has an important influence on the speech style used.
Gender Noticing The concept of gender noticing provides solution to a problem that is raised by a constructionist approach to gender and language. How does one differentiate between those aspects of speech that are ‘doing gender’ and does that are not, without thinking language used to the (gender) identity of the speaker and without relying on gender stereotypes.
Discursive Psychology, Conversation Analysis and Gender Debates between discursive and cognitive approach to psychological phenomena aside, the important point is that just because someone is a woman, a New Zealander, middle-class, or whatever, doesn’t justify invoking those categories as a way of explaining how that person talks and interacts.