Alfred Schutz and ethnomethodology: Origins and departures

Hammersley, Martyn (2019). Alfred Schutz and ethnomethodology: Origins and departures. History of the Human Sciences, 32(2) pp. 59–75.



The work of Alfred Schutz was an important early influence on Harold Garfinkel and therefore on the development of ethnomethodology. In this article, I try to clarify what Garfinkel drew from Schutz, as well as what he did not take from him, specifically as regards the task of social inquiry. This is done by focusing in detail on one of Schutz’s key articles: ‘Concept and Theory Formation in the Social Sciences’. The aim is thereby to illuminate the relationship between Schutz’s views on the character of social science and Garfinkel’s radical proposal for a re-specified focus of investigation. This is further pursued by examining an important debate about the link between Schutz and ethnomethodology.

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