Testata

Sociologica

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Abstract
This paper re-considers Coleman’s malicious review of Garfinkel’s Studies in Ethnomethodology, taking into account its narrative script, as well as addressing his theoretical and political criticisms. Focusing in particular on Coleman’s arguments against the celebrated chapter on “sexual passing” which have often been used against ethnomethodology, I look at Garfinkel’s study of Agnes as a way to confront a number of fundamental theoretical issues: the status of individual purposive action; the gender order, and the nature/culture dichotomy. While Coleman largely eschews a direct epistemological confrontation with Garfinkel, he re-frames Agnes by relying on external medical knowledge to introduce the “real transsexual.” Garfinkel writes a decentred narrative which allows Agnes to emerge in different lights at subsequent readings, rendering the text a research instrument itself and an arena for political discussion.
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