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Describing news : toward an alternative account Jackson, Nancy S. 1977

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DESCRIBING NEWS: TOWARD AN ALTERNATIVE ACCOUNT by Nancy S. Jackson B.A., U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1974 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE ""OF MASTER OF ARTS THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Department of Anthropology and S o c i o l o g y U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Columbia We accept t h i s t h e s i s as conforming to the r e q u i r e d standard THE UNIVERSITY OF, BRITISH COLUMBIA J u l y , 1977 i n Nancy S. Jackson, 19 7 7 In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s in p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f the r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r an advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Co lumb ia , I a g ree that the L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e and s tudy . I f u r t h e r agree t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e c o p y i n g o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may be g r a n t e d by the Head o f my Department o r by h i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . It i s u n d e r s t o o d that c o p y i n g o r p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l not be a l l o w e d w i thout my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . Department o f Anthropology and Sociology The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Co lumbia 2075 Wesbrook Place Vancouver, Canada V6T 1W5 Date 1 October 1977 ABSTRACT T h i s paper i s concerned w i t h f a c t u a l accounts as a form of knowledge which i s mediated by o r g a n i z a t i o n s and i n s t i t u t i o n s which i n f o r m and adm i n i s t e r our s o c i e t y . T h i s mediation i s i t -s e l f a p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t y of p a r t i c u l a r persons, i n p a r t i c u l a r s e t t i n g s , i n which the world of experience i s transformed i n t o the forms i n which i t can be known and managed. These p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s c o n s t i t u t e p a r t i c u l a r r e l a t i o n s of knowing, which are taken f o r granted i n f a c t u a l accounts and thus are b u i l t i n t o much of what we reco g n i z e as o b j e c t i v e f e a t u r e s of our s o c i e t y , e.g. crime, mental i l l n e s s , e t h n i c i t y , news. Th i s work focusses on those o r g a n i z e d p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s as p r e c i s e l y the a c t i v i t i e s i n which s o c i a l phenomena are c o n s t i t u t e d and through which they are a v a i l a b l e to o b s e r v a t i o n . This approach shares many aspects of the ethnomethodological concern with " P r a c t i c a l Reasoning i n O r g a n i z a t i o n a l S e t t i n g s " which Turner (1974) d e s c r i b e s as the s h i f t of a t t e n t i o n toward "the doings" which c o n s t i t u t e s o c i a l order. (Turner 1974: 83) A t t e n t i o n i s focused on the p r o d u c t i o n of two kinds of f a c t u a l accounts: d e s c r i p t i o n and news. The primary focus i s on d e s c r i p t i o n , and p a r t i c u l a r l y on s o c i o l o g i c a l d e s c r i p t i o n . The secondary focus i s on news, and serves both to i l l u s t r a t e a method of working s o c i o l o g i c a l l y , and to begin the work of deve l o p i n g an account of news as a s o c i a l l y o r g a n i z e d phenomenon. The work begins by developing the basis for a c r i t i q u e of descriptive method, and the implications for sociology. The basis for the c r i t i q u e i s found i n the m a t e r i a l i s t method and Marx's view of s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s . From the work of Marx, Smith has derived a procedure for sociology, which she has c a l l e d "substructing" which involves "returning to the actual s o c i a l relations which generate those phenomena as they are named, the actual practices of r e a l l i v i n g i n d i v i d u a l s , which are the only basis for the existence of s o c i a l phenomena." (Smith 1977b) This procedure provides an approach to s o c i o l o g i c a l descriptions which focusses on description i n a way that i s s i m i l a r to Wittgenstein's notion of a language-game, as a use of language which involves "a d e f i n i t e use of words, a d e f i n i t e way of meaning." (Smith 1977b) The following aspects of descriptive method are examined: a) How the descriptive method gives a determinate character to i t s subject; b) How the descriptive method obscures the organized relations of knowing as part of the constitution of the phenomenon; c) How the descriptive use of terms i s dependent upon the o r i g i n a l working setting, and how that dependence may be u t i l i z e d to develop an alternative procedure for doing accounts. Two accounts of 'Sources of News" are presented. The f i r s t i l l u s t r a t e s a conventional form of description; the second i s an attempt to begin to develop an account which has the character of an explication, and which would provide an alternative to conventional description. Some observations are made about problems i n learning to put together an account which avoids o b j e c t i f i c a t i o n by taking as i t s problematic what":, i s already given i n description•- that the phenomenon i s there to be described. An expl i c a t i v e account i s described as one which must be entered from within the organization of s o c i a l relations in which the phenomenon arises. The discussion of "Sources of News" i s considered as an in d i c a t i o n of how i t would be possible to work on larger aspects of news production, or on other forms of organization. The method i s described as one which allows us to see how accounts are produced as part of a larger organization which gives determination to what emerges as the product. i v TABLE OF CONTENTS Page ABSTRACT i TABLE OF CONTENTS ' i v ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS v CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION 1 On D e s c r i p t i o n 10 On News 13 Some Background 15 CHAPTER TWO: ON DESCRIPTIVE METHOD 23 I. How the d e s c r i p t i v e method g i v e s a determinate c h a r a c t e r 35 I I . How the d e s c r i p t i v e method obscures the o r g a n i z e d r e l a t i o n s of knowing . . . 42 I I I . How the d e s c r i p t i v e use of terms i s dependent upon the o r i g i n a l s e t t i n g . . 50 CHAPTER THREE: TOWARD EXPLICATIVE ACCOUNTS 58 D e s c r i b i n g Sources of News: An I l l u s t r a t i o n 60 Sources of News: Doing An E x p l i c a t i v e Account . 62 Toward Other E x p l i c a t i v e Accounts 72 CHAPTER FOUR: CONCLUSION - - 76 BIBLIOGRAPHY 8 4 V ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I am profoundly indebted to Dorothy Smith f o r the conception and d i r e c t i o n of the work t h a t i s presented here. I t i s her v i s i o n f o r s o c i o l o g y t h a t I am engaged i n l e a r n i n g , p r a c t i c i n g , and e x p r e s s i n g i n these pages. I am g r a t e f u l to her f o r encouragement and c r i t i c i s m , r e s e a r c h funds and o f f i c e space, as w e l l as dozens of lunches and c h a l l e n g i n g d i s c u s s i o n s . For four years she has p e r s i s t e n t l y chipped away a t my understanding of.-; the s o c i a l world, w i t h the remarkable s e n s i t i v i t y to the l e a r n i n g process which i s valued by a l l those who have worked with her. I a l s o want to express h e a r t f e l t thanks to the others whose labour o f v a r i o u s kinds i s represented here: E l v i Whittaker gave generously of her time, knowledge, and enthusiam to launch me i n t o the waters of n o n - p o s i t i v i s m , and has c o n t i n u a l l y c h a l l e n g e d me along the way to demonstrate t h a t I have not indeed, run aground once again. Her advice arid d i r e c t i o n have been h i g h l y valued. Helga Jacobsen made p o s s i b l e a program combining employment, graduate s t u d i e s , and 'maternity' ( i n c l u d i n g the o c c a s i o n a l d i r t y diaper) which s t a r t e d me on t h i s endeavor. Her support and c o n t r i b u t i o n o f c r i t i c i s m have been g r e a t l y a p p r e c i a t e d . v i Newsroom personnel, who go unnamed, shared t h e i r time generously, and kindly endured my endless questions and i n q u i s i t i v e gaze. Alison Boulter; Marie Campbell and Marguerite Cassin contributed to a climate of mutual support and enquiry which we shared during the past year. Dorothy R e s t a l l -provided the typing s k i l l s to produce the f i n a l d r aft. Parts of the research were supported by Canada Council Grant #S73-1457. F i n a l l y , I wish to acknowledge the cooperation and encouragement of my family, B i l l and Mandy Jackson. - 1 -CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION In the present work a concern with news and a concern with description are fundamentally interwoven. Both are understood as part of a s p e c i f i c i n t e r e s t i n factual and documentary accounts as c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of how our society i s known and administered. Both journalism and sociology provide occasions for the production of these accounts. Our knowledge of the world i s i n various ways mediated by organizations which do the work of transforming the world of experience into factual or documentary forms i n which i t can be known and administered, e.g. news reports, medical records, police reports, insurance records, b i r t h c e r t i f i c a t e s , licenses, etc. Since much of our knowledge comes to us through such channels, the mediated character of our knowledge i s fundamental to how we are related to the world i n which we l i v e . A mediated knowledge i s not only the mode of knowing for government, b u s i n e s s t h e professions, or s o c i a l science.- It i s also the mode of knowing which i s available to a l l persons as ordinary members of our society. We depend upon the production - 2 -of knowledge by others to inform us about what goes on beyond the l i m i t s of our d a i l y experience. News i s one of these forms of knowledge "by report". News i s r e l i e d upon i n many ways not only to inform us as private persons, but as part of the public dialogue which casts us i n given ways as participants i n the economic and p o l i t i c a l process. S i m i l a r l y , s o c i o l o g i c a l description i s r e l i e d upon as a method of organizing the world so that we may know i t from a position occupied by the i n t e l l i g e n s i a . I t i s the practices which constitute these various organized relations of knowing which are the central issue i n t h i s paper. Factual accounts are produced i n determinate organizational contexts which mediate between the world of experience, i . e . what people actually do, and the knowledge which i s made available as a means to know the world. This mediation i s i t s e l f a p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t y , i n actual settings of work, such as governing, administ-ra t i v e , and educational organizations. In these settings, the work i s done which transforms the world of experience into the forms i n which i t can be known and managed. What i s special to our kind of society i s that much which we recognize as that which we know...is already worked up and produced i n a process which mediates i t s r e l a t i o n to what men1 have actually done i n the place where the process begins. That mediating process i t s e l f i s a p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t y . It includes at least l l n her e a r l i e r work, Smith follows the general convention of using maculine pronouns to represent both sexes. - 3 -these: procedures for finding, selecting and ordering from, o r i g i n a l events. The events have themselves a structure p r i o r to and standing i n an indeterminate r e l a t i o n to the structure of the account; the making of an account; and then the determinate sequential procedure by which that account i s brought forward to the point at which i t i s read or heard or seen. (Smith, 1974a:54) Thi s paper i s concerned with these p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s . I t examines the p r o d u c t i o n of f a c t u a l accounts as a p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t y of p a r t i c u l a r persons, i n p a r t i c u l a r s e t t i n g s , and with p a r t i c u l a r purposes i n mind. They are produced as p a r t of a p a r t i c u l a r e n t e r p r i s e , and the methods t h a t are used to do them i n order to meet the requirements of the e n t e r p r i s e g i v e d e t e r -mination to what emerges as the product. A very g e n e r a l account of the process under examination might go l i k e t h i s : f i r s t there i s something "out t h e r e " t h a t a c t u a l l y happened. This out there-ness can be c h a r a c t e r i z e d as t h a t which happens as embedded i n the temporal flow of experience, a c t i o n , becoming, which i s the world as i t i s l i v e d ; then there i s a work (which a l s o , of course takes p l a c e i n t h i s same mode) which produces a w r i t t e n account of t h a t which a c t u a l l y happened. In doing so i t draws a boundary around i t ( i n the o r i g i n a l i t may not have been bounded). I t transforms i t i n t o an " i t " . I t c o n s t i t u t e s i t as a d i s t i n c t "what a c t u a l l y happened", as an event or s t a t e . T h i s process of making an account i n documentary form i s s o c i a l l y o r g a n i z e d . We can c a l l i t the s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n of the p r o d u c t i o n of a f a c t u a l account. (Smith, 1976b:l) I would l i k e to focus b r i e f l y on the term " s o c i a l organization" as used by Smith above and throughout this paper. This term i s often a source of confusion and misunderstanding of work of the - 4 -f k i n d t h a t i s to be presented here, i n t h a t the term i s being used i n a way which departs i n important, i f not a l t o g e t h e r obvious, ways from i t s c o n v e n t i o n a l use i n - s o c i o l o g y and anthropology. The problem has to do w i t h how the o b j e c t s of study are c o n s t i t u t e d . In the prese n t work the term " s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n " o r " s o c i a l l y o r g anized" i s used to i d e n t i f y a realm of o r g a n i z e d p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s i n which s o c i a l phenomena come i n t o b e i n g with t h e appearance of o b j e c t i v e f e a t u r e s of the s o c i a l world; i t i d e n t i f i e s an " o n t o l o g i c a l " s t a t u s of s o c i a l phenomena. That i s , these terms i d e n t i f y a domain i n which ' o b j e c t s ' come i n t o e x i s t e n c e by being assembled, or g a n i z e d as phenomena, s o c i a l l y . They ' e x i s t ' as s o c i a l pheonomena only i n the a c t i v i t i e s of people i n which these forms are produced as appearances. They are fundamentally a s o c i a l c o n s t r u c t i o n , and have no other e x i s t e n c e than i n t h e i r ongoing, s o c i a l accomplisment. T h i s way of working procedes from the understanding t h a t there are only people and peoples' a c t i v i t i e s , and whatever ' e x i s t s ' comes i n t o being and i s maintained i n and by those a c t i v i t i e s . T h i s i s a m a t e r i a l i s t p o s t i o n , but not, I would argue, a p o s i t i v i s t one. Rather, work of t h i s k i n d focusses on o b j e c t s as e s s e n t i a l l y i n t e r s u b j e c t i v e - as a r i s i n g and being c o n s t i t u t e d i n t e r s u b j e c t i v e l y . T h i s work presumes t h a t such o b j e c t s are a v a i l a b l e to o b s e r v a t i o n o n l y i n so f a r as the o r g a n i z a t i o n of s o c i a l a cts which b r i n g s them i n t o being as s o c i a l o b j e c t s i s a v a i l a b l e to o b s e r v a t i o n . T h i s understanding - 5 -i s the b a s i s f o r an approach to most of what we r e c o g n i z e as ' o b j e c t i v e 1 f e a t u r e s of our s o c i e t y : o r d e r , s t a t u s , e t h n i c i t y , deviance, news, c u l t u r e , g i f t s , e t c . Take the example of a g i f t ( c f . Smith 1976c). A g i f t i s a phenomenon which i s brought i n t o b e i n g as a p a r t i c u l a r s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n . A g i f t does not e x i s t as such other than as i t a r i s e s i n the r e l a t i o n s between people which i t mediates. That i s , a box of candy i s a box of candy, but i t may be o r g a n i z e d as a g i f t i n a p a r t i c u l a r r e l a t i o n of exchange between people. S i m i l a r l y , an o c c a s i o n such as a meeting only e x i s t s as a s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n . That i s , a group of people s i t t i n g i n a room do not c o n s t i t u t e a meeting; they may be w a i t i n g f o r a movie to s t a r t , w a i t i n g to c a t c h a t r a i n , e t c . I t i s a p a r t i c u l a r r e l a t i o n among those people which b r i n g s the meeting-ness of an o c c a s i o n i n t o being, assembles or o r g a n i z e s the o c c a s i o n as a meeting. The meeting-ness i s s o c i a l l y o r g a n ized, brought i n t o being as a s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n . I t i s not t h a t a meeting i s produced by a given s e t of a c t i v i t i e s or r e l a t i o n s , but t h a t i t i s c o n s t i t u t e d p r e c i s e l y in-those a c t i v i t i e s . Without those a c t i v i t i e s the 'meeting' has no e x i s t e n c e whatsoever. Thus the term s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n p o i n t s to a domain i n which the o b j e c t s of study are c o n s t i t u t e d . I t begins to i d e n t i f y an - 6 -e p i s t e m o l o g i c a l realm w i t h i n which t h i s work i s l o c a t e d . I t i s a realm which i s e s t a b l i s h e d i n the work of ethnomethodology. What ethnomethodology has begun to do i s work back from the f a m i l i a r forms i n which the s o c i a l process i s o r d i n a r i l y known and d e s c r i b e d , to an account of the " p r a c t i c a l r easoning", i n c l u d i n g o rganized p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s , i n which these forms are c o n s t i t u t e d . One key area i n t o which work of t h i s k i n d has taken ethno-methodologists i s i n t o o r g a n i z a t i o n a l s e t t i n g s . Heap (1975) r e f e r s to work of t h i s k i n d as " n o n - r e i f i e d " accounts of o r g a n i z a t i o n (see G a r f i n k e l , 1967; C i c o u r e l , 1968; Zimmerman, 1970). For example, i n Turner's c o l l e c t i o n of readings e n t i t l e d Ethnomethodology, there i s a s e c t i o n of e i g h t a r t i c l e s which d e a l i n v a r i o u s ways with " P r a c t i c a l Reasoning i n O r g a n i z a t i o n a l S e t t i n g s " . The s e t t i n g s i n c l u d e the work of j u v e n i l e o f f i c e r s , a h o s p i t a l ward, a w e l f a r e agency, a c r i s i s c e n t e r , and a h a l f way house f o r c o n v i c t s . Turner d i r e c t s us i n these a r t i c l e s t o "the s h i f t o f a t t e n t i o n . . . t o w a r d s i n v e s t i g a t i n g the p r o d u c t i o n p r a c t i c e s , the 'doings' which c o n s t i t u t e s o c i a l order, and away from the products (e.g. records) conceived of as independent of these p r a c t i c e s " . (Turner, 1974:83) Zimmerman (1969) p r o v i d e s an e x c e l l e n t i l l u s t r a t i o n of t h i s k i n d of work i n h i s a r t i c l e "Record Keeping and the Intake Process i n a P u b l i c Welfare Agency", where he examines the taken f o r granted - 7 -use of documents i n a w e l f a r e i n t a k e p r o c e s s . ^ He i s concerned to show how records achieve t h e i r s t a t u s as o f f i c i a l , a u t h o r i t a t i v e accounts i n the s e t t i n g of t h e i r p r o d u c t i o n and use. He demonstrates t h a t the " f a c t u a l i t y , o b j e c t i v i t y , and i m p e r s o n a l i t y of the i n f o r m a t i o n contained i n those records i s an everyday, p r a c t i c a l concern, and an everyday, p r a c t i c a l accomplishment." (Zimmerman, 1969:321) Turner summarizes t h i s ethnomethodological focus on p r a c t i c a l r easoning and p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s as t h a t which "makes pr o b l e m a t i c (which i s t o say, a t o p i c f o r i n v e s t i g a t i o n and a n a l y s i s ) the c h a r a c t e r of members' a c t i v i t i e s i n producing the a c t i o n scenes and the t a l k embedded i n and i n t e g r a l to those scenes..." (Turner, 1974:10) He c h a r a c t e r i z e s the work as t h a t which takes the s o c i a l world to be "a constant doing and a c h i e v i n g " , and sees t h i s "doing" as " t o p i c a l l y a v a i l a b l e t o the s o c i a l s c i e n t i s t " . (Turner, 1974:10) One p o i n t which needs to be made c l e a r i s the r e l a t i o n of work of t h i s k i n d to the " n a t u r a l a t t i t u d e " (Schutz). Ethno-methodological work does not make the c l a i m to produce a members' p o i n t of view, though the work begins with the landmarks of the members' experience: language, and s o c i a l o b j e c t s , e.g. c l i e n t s , cases, s u i c i d e s , s t o r i e s , phone t i p s , e t c . The ethno-^This a r t i c l e appears i n abridged form i n Turner (19 74), under the t i t l e , "Fact as P r a c t i c a l Accomplishment". methodological work i s that of providing for how i t i s that the language and s o c i a l phenomena of the members'world are there to be experienced. Zimmerman, for example, points out that for personnel i n the welfare agency he studied, "...documents often had an obvious character. They were seen by personnel as obviously factual reports about a variety of circumstances relevant to the deter-mination of e l i g i b i l i t y . . . " (1969:354). Zimmerman's work was concerned with how th'is f a c t i c i t y was an accomplisment of the a c t i v i t i e s of the workers themselves. However this was never a problem from the worker's point of view. "When simply taken for granted, the features of these ordered domains are matters of mere recognition for which no accounts are c a l l e d for or given. Indeed, such routine recognition, and the action and inference proceeding from i t , i s the mark of the competent worker". (Zimmerman, 1969:354) Sim i l a r l y , Garfinkel points out the discrepancy, between the work he and his colleagues were engaged i n at the Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Center, and the perspective of the personnel they were studying. ...personnel at the Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Center found i t altogether incongruous to consider seriously that they be so engaged i n the work of c e r t i f y i n g mode of death [of] a person seeking to commit suicide, and they could concert t h e i r e f f o r t s to assure the unequivocal recognition of "what r e a l l y happened". (Garfinkel 1967:7-8) - 9 -The i n t e r e s t i n f a c t u a l accounts i n the pr e s e n t paper i s s i m i l a r to these ethnomethodological concerns. I t focuses on s e l e c t e d aspects of organized p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s both i n the p r o d u c t i o n of s o c i o l o g i c a l descr.ip.t'ions and i n the p r o d u c t i o n of news accounts. The aim i s to expl o r e how the c h a r a c t e r of d e s c r i p t i v e accounts and the c h a r a c t e r of news accounts a r i s e as p r a c t i c a l accomplishments i n the o r g a n i z e d p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s of t h e i r p r o d u c t i o n and use. In n e i t h e r case, however, i s the work an e x p l i c a t i o n of a members' p o i n t of view. The work on d e s c r i p t i o n s w i l l focus on aspects of d e s c r i p t i v e method which are taken f o r granted i n the work of the s o c i o l o g i s t . The work on news p r o d u c t i o n w i l l focus on f e a t u r e s of the work which 1 are seen as having an unproblematic c h a r a c t e r by news-people themselves. The primary focus i s on the s o c i o l o g i c a l e n t e r p r i s e : on the p r o d u c t i o n of d e s c r i p t i o n s i n s o c i o l o g y , and on developing an adequate procedure f o r s o c i o l o g i c a l enquiry. The secondary focus on the p r o d u c t i o n of news then serves both to i l l u s t r a t e a method of working s o c i o l o g i c a l l y , and to begin the work of deve l o p i n g an account of the s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n of the p r o d u c t i o n of news. N e i t h e r of these tasks can be completed i n t h i s paper, of course, but some aspects of each of them can be developed. - 10 -ON DESCRIPTION Co n s i d e r a b l e a t t e n t i o n w i l l be given to e s t a b l i s h i n g the b a s i s f o r a c r i t i q u e of d e s c r i p t i v e method which i s a t the ce n t r e of t h i s work. The c r i t i q u e f o l l o w s from some aspects of the work of Marx and W i t t g e n s t e i n , l a r g e l y as they are developed i n the work of Smith. Chapter 2 w i l l begin by examining t h i s work. The d i s c u s s i o n w i l l then t u r n t o s e v e r a l aspects o f the d e s c r i p t i v e method which are brought to our a t t e n t i o n by Smith's c r i t i q u e . The work of d e s c r i p t i o n w i l l be d i s c u s s e d as a p a r t i c u l a r e n t e r p r i s e t h a t i s done i n d e f i n i t e s e t t i n g s and has d e f i n i t e methods of g e t t i n g i t done, and which lends a determinate c h a r a c t e r to i t s s u b j e c t . The concern i s to begin to make v i s i b l e these aspects of d e s c r i p t i v e work as p a r t of what the s o c i o l o g i s t s makes use of at a l e v e l which she takes f o r granted i n her work. C i c o u r e l poses a problem of t h i s k i n d i n h i s work The S o c i a l O r g a n i z a t i o n  of J u v e n i l e J u s t i c e (1968). He i s concerned w i t h the problem of t a c i t knowledge as a resource i n the doing of d e s c r i p t i o n . He d e s c r i b e s the problem of adequately " b o t t l i n g " the phenomenon under study as a complicated one. ' The c o m p l i c a t i o n s a r i s e because we must att e n d to the problem of how the observer... u t i l i z e s t a c i t knowledge (background i n f o r m a t i o n or what anyone "knows") i n i d e n t i f y i n g and s e l e c t i n g m a t e r i a l s . . . - 11 -and recommending i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s (as s t r a i g h t d e s c r i p t i o n s or coded shorthand accounts) or "what happened". ...What s o r t s of agreements must both the r e s e a r c h e r and reader achieve as c o n d i t i o n s f o r d e c i d i n g the v a r i o u s meanings being rendered? Assuming both the r e s e a r c h e r and the reader are members of the same s o c i e t y , i t might be easy to agree on the meaning of p h y s i c a l items l i k e c h a i r s and t a b l e s . . . b u t I am i n t e r e s t e d i n how we a s s i g n unequivocal meaning to a j u v e n i l e ' s tone of v o i c e when a p o l i c e o f f i c e r or a p r o b a t i o n o f f i c e r or judge l a b e l s such behaviour " i n d e f i a n c e of a u t h o r i t y " or an i n d i c a t i o n of a "bad a t t i t u d e " . Other problems i n c l u d e agreement on the meaning of g e s t u r e s , jokes, a n x i e t y , and the l i k e . The c o m p l i c a t i o n s are enormous. ( C i c o u r e l , 1968:2-3) The argument w i l l be developed t h a t d e s c r i p t i o n can be seen as a p a r t i c u l a r k i n d of language game (Wittgenstein) which b u i l d s i n t o d e s c r i p t i v e accounts a number of t a k e n - f o r - g r a n t e d a s p e c t s . This paper w i l l examine how the cTe-scriptive method depends upon a knowledge of the s o c i a l l y o r g a n i z e d p r a c t i c e s i n which phenomena a r i s e , and which are taken f o r granted by r e p r e s e n t i n g the o b j e c t s as e x i s t i n g independently of these p r a c t i c e s . I t w i l l a l s o examine how the method takes f o r granted the o r g a n i z e d s o c i a l r e l a t i o n i n which a phenomenon i s c o n s t i t u t e d as what i t i s f o r the observer, by e l i m i n a t i n g the presence of a knower from the account of the o b j e c t of knowledge. These aspects of the d e s c r i p t i v e method w i l l be d i s c u s s e d as p a r t of what needs to be e x p l i c a t e d i n order to provide an adequate grounding of d e s c r i p t i v e accounts. - 12 -There are two r e l a t e d q uestions which u n d e r l i e the concern with d e s c r i p t i o n s which i s expressed here. One of these i s what k i n d of work i t i s expected t h a t d e s c r i p t i o n s should do f o r us. I t seems t h a t c o n v e n t i o n a l l y d e s c r i p t i o n has been expected to provide an adequately o b j e c t i v e "summary or e x p r e s s i o n " (Smith) of the o b j e c t , the s e t t i n g , the phenomenon t h a t . i t claims to r e p r e s e n t . The p r e s e n t work begins from the c o n v i c t i o n t h a t t h i s i s not enough; t h a t i t i s necessary to do accounts of phenomena which d i s p l a y the o b j e c t s of d e s c r i p t i o n i n such a way t h a t we know something about how they are c o n s t i t u t e d i n p r a c t i c e as the r e s u l t of the d e s c r i p t i o n s we have done of them. Accounts of t h i s k i n d begin to do the work of e x p l i c a t i n g , r a t h e r than "summarizing", how the s o c i a l world i s put t o g e t h er. I f the task of d e s c r i p t i o n i s to be t h i s e x p l i c a t i v e work, then as Smith p o i n t s out, s o c i o l o g y has not made much pr o g r e s s . ...the t o t a l i t y o f the s o c i a l p r o c e s s . . . awaits d e s c r i p t i o n , and awaits d e s c r i p t i o n i n the f i r s t • p l a c e , p r i o r to the t h e o r e t i c a l i n t e r e s t s t h a t we may have as s o c i o l o g i s t s . I t h i n k i n the f i r s t p l a c e we don't r e a l l y know how to d e s c r i b e i t p r o p e r l y . And I t h i n k t h i s i s the s o c i a l phenomenon; t h i s i s the s u b j e c t matter of s o c i o l o g y . . . p r e c i s e l y t h i s s o c i a l process which b r i n g s i n t o being a world i n the context of s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s as a c t u a l p r a c t i c e s . . . (Smith 1976c:10) The other q u e s t i o n , which i s suggested by Smith above, has to do w i t h how one understands the s o c i a l world to e x i s t . That i s , i f one assumes t h a t f e a t u r e s of the s o c i a l world e x i s t - 13 -o b j e c t i v e l y and are c o n c r e t e l y a v a i l a b l e to o b s e r v a t i o n and d e s c r i p t i o n , then the k i n d of account which one would do i s one t h a t r e p r e s e n t s the f e a t u r e s of the s o c i a l world i n the most ' o b j e c t i v e ' p o s s i b l e l i g h t . On the other hand, i f one begins from the understanding t h a t the f e a t u r e s of the s o c i a l world are fundamentally a s o c i a l c o n s t r u c t i o n , then one would want to do accounts which e x p l i c a t e how the f e a t u r e s of the s o c i a l world are put together i n t h i s way. The p r e s e n t work c l e a r l y s u b s c r i b e s to t h i s l a t t e r v e r s i o n of s o c i a l r e a l i t y and the e x p l i c a t i v e form of accounts which i t r e q u i r e s . Thus the p r e s e n t paper i s i n v o l v e d i n recommending an a l t e r n a t i v e t o c o n v e n t i o n a l d e s c r i p t i o n . We have c a l l e d these e x p l i c a t i o n s , or e x p l i c a t i v e accounts, to c a l l a t t e n t i o n to t h e i r c h a r a c t e r as accounts which address the problem of how i t i s t h a t the phenomena are t h e r e to be d e s c r i b e d . That i s we are concerned w i t h developing and recommending a form of account: which e x p l i c a t e s the s o c i a l l y o r g a n i z e d c h a r a c t e r of phenomena. ON" "NEWS The i n t e r e s t i n d e s c r i p t i o n which i s expressed here has a r i s e n as a c e n t r a l concern out of ongoing r e s e a r c h i n t o the s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n of the p r o d u c t i o n of news. T h i s r e s e a r c h i s focussed on the p r a c t i c e s which b r i n g news i n t o being as an - 14 -o r d i n a r y f e a t u r e of the s o c i a l world t h a t can be bought and s o l d i n a paper, and i s understood to r e p r e s e n t what happens i n the world each day. In the course of t h i s r e s e a r c h i t has become i n c r e a s i n g l y ^ c l e a r t h a t the methods' and the problems of the p r o d u c t i o n of news accounts are i n t i m a t e l y connected to our own e n t e r p r i s e i n the r e s e a r c h , which i s the p r o d u c t i o n of s o c i o l o g i c a l accounts. Both are occasions of the p r o d u c t i o n of f a c t u a l accounts. Both i n v o l v e a s e t of determinate p r a c t i c e s which mediate between what people a c t u a l l y do and the account of t h a t a c t i v i t y which i s produced. The concern i n the ongoing r e s e a r c h on news has been to examine the o r g a n i z e d p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s of news p r o d u c t i o n which mediate between what goes on i n the world and t h a t which we know of i t as news, and to f i n d the ways i n which those mediating p r a c t i c e s g i v e d e t e r m i n a t i o n to what emerges as the product. In the present paper, some p r e l i m i n a r y accounts of aspects of news p r o d u c t i o n w i l l be i n t r o d u c e d which are intended to begin to e x p l i c a t e these o r g a n i z e d p r a c t i c e s . The d i s c u s s i o n w i l l focus on the a c t i v i t i e s which c o n s t i t u t e o r d i n a r y f e a t u r e s of the work of news p r o d u c t i o n , such as sources of news and phone t i p s , and w i l l i n d i c a t e how more g e n e r a l aspects of news p r o d u c t i o n which a r i s e as a s o c i a l l y o r g a n i z e d p r a c t i c e may a l s o be e x p l o r e d . I t w i l l be suggested t h a t the language of - 15 -jo u r n a l i s t s themselves may be used to organize an inquiry into these practices. SOME BACKGROUND The research on news has a rather long his t o r y . I t began in 1973 with a graduate seminar on the sociology of knowledge. The focus of.that seminar was on the s o c i a l construction of documentary forms of knowledge. News was studied by the group as an example of a documentary form of knowledge which i s produced as an ongoing, d a i l y occurance, and i s p a r t i c u l a r l y available to study. Students did f i e l d work on various aspects of news: t e l e v i s i o n news, labour news reporting for a news-paper, c i t y h a l l beat reporting for newspaper, alternative newspapers. One outgrowth from that seminar was a summer project funded by the p r o v i n c i a l Department of Labour under the Professions for Tomorrow program. The project was c a l l e d the B. C. Community News Project. The summer's work focussed on the issues of ownership and control of newspapers i n the lower mainland of B.C. This research c a l l e d into question the widely accepted formulations of concentration of ownership as a source of bias i n the news, such as the work of Porter (1965), Clement (1975), and the Report of the Special Senate Committee on Mass Media (1970). - 16 -F o l l o w i n g from the seminar and summer p r o j e c t , s e v e r a l o f the students i n v o l v e d have done Masters theses on the t o p i c of news, u s i n g i n v a r i o u s ways the b a s i c framework which was developed i n the e a r l i e r a c t i v i t i e s . M a r i l e e Paulson (1975) d i d work on labour news r e p o r t i n g i n a major d a i l y paper, f o c u s s i n g on the d e f i n i t i o n of labour news as i t i s c o n s t r u c t e d by the s o c i a l l y o r g a n i z e d p r a c t i c e s of newswork. S y l v i a Webster (1977) s t u d i e d r e p o r t i n g p r a c t i c e s on the c i t y h a l l beat of a d a i l y paper, and focussed on the r e l a t i o n between r e p o r t i n g p r a c t i c e s and ethnographic methods. Kevin Busswood[(forthcoming) has done work on the p r a c t i c a l o r g a n i z a t i o n of the p r o d u c t i o n of t e l e v i s i o n news. In a d d i t i o n to these papers which are i n v a r i o u s ways r e l a t e d to one another i n t h e i r approach to news, there i s some l i t e r a t u r e i n communication s t u d i e s and s o c i o l o g y which we have found p a r t i c u l a r l y i n t e r e s t i n g and h e l p f u l , even though f o r the most p a r t i t does not share p r e c i s e l y , the p e r s p e c t i v e which we have been attempting to develop. For example, we were i n t e r e s t e d i n the work of J . T u n s t a l l , (1971); E . J . E p s t e i n , (1973); E l l i o t t , H a l l o r a n & Murdock, (1970);. H. Molotch and M. L e s t e r , (1973, 1974); R. Darnton, (1975); M. Fishman (1976) and i n p a r t i c u l a r the r e c e n t work of G. Tuchman, (1976). While these works w i l l be seen to d i f f e r q u i t e w i d e l y among themselves, and while none r e p r e s e n t s e x a c t l y the approach t h a t w i l l be developed here, what they do share with one another and with the pre s e n t work i s a concern w i t h the p r a c t i c a l aspects of newswork - 17 -as s i g n i f i c a n t i n the d e t e r m i n a t i o n of the c h a r a c t e r of news. The work represented i n the present paper began i n the f a l l of 19 75 under the sponsorship of a Canada C o u n c i l Grant. The funds were granted to Dorothy Smith to study "The S o c i a l O r g a n i z a t i o n of News". The s t a t e d aims of the r e s e a r c h p r o j e c t were to " i n v e s t i g a t e the s o c i a l l y o r g a n i z e d p r a c t i c e s which tra n s f o r m an o r i g i n a l a c t u a l event i n t o the form of an item of news i n a newspaper", and to develop "concepts and methods capable of a n a l y z i n g and examining the r e l a t i o n s between the s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n of the p r o d u c t i o n of news and the news s t o r y as a r e p r e s e n t a t i o n of an a c t u a l event". (Canada C o u n c i l Grant Proposal.) Both of these aims are r e p r e s e n t e d i n the work which i s presented i n t h i s paper, although i t i s f a r from exhaustive of the work t h a t has been done i n e i t h e r of these areas i n the course of the r e s e a r c h . The f i e l d work f o r t h i s p r o j e c t was done between January and J u l y , 19 76. Arrangements were made to have access to the newsroom of a major d a i l y newspaper to do o b s e r v a t i o n s and i n t e r -views. During the months of January, February and March, I spent approximately a dozen p e r i o d s of o b s e r v a t i o n i n the newsroom, a total.'of: roughly 50 hours. In the months A p r i l to J u l y a number of a d d i t i o n a l i n t e r v i e w s were conducted j o i n t l y w i t h Dorothy Smith, and much time was given to the s e r i o u s methodological c o n s i d e r a t i o n s which had been h i g h l i g h t e d by the f i e l d e x p erience. - 18 -The g o a l of our o b s e r v a t i o n a l work was to produce what we c a l l e d a "focussed ethnography", i . e . one aimed a t a d e s c r i p t i o n of d e f i n i t e aspects o f the o r g a n i z a t i o n a l p r o c e s s . Our focus was r e s t r i c t e d to the p r o d u c t i o n o f l o c a l news. We were i n t e r e s t e d i n o b s e r v i n g and d e s c r i b i n g the p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s and working r e l a t i o n s of g e n e r a l r e p o r t e r s and c i t y e d i t o r s and a s s i s t a n t s a t the c i t y desk. We were not, t h e r e f o r e , concerned with news which i s produced by wire s e r v i c e s or on beats which operate p r i m a r i l y o u t s i d e the newsroom. This f o c u s ; r e s u l t e d i n a t t e n t i o n to the assignment p r o c e s s , the work of the r e w r i t e desk, sources of l o c a l news, and the dev e l o p i n g of news s t o r i e s by phone. The aims of our work a l s o r e q u i r e d t h a t we give our a t t e n t i o n to the o r d e r i n g of the r e l a t i o n of o u r s e l v e s as observers to the s e t t i n g and to people i n the newsroom as informants. Our o b s e r v a t i o n s focussed on the p r a c t i c e s of i n d i v i d u a l s as they were r e l a t e d to one another i n the t o t a l o r g a n i z a t i o n of work by which news i s s o c i a l l y produced. We d i d not look f o r the c o n s t r u c t i o n of news as a p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t y w i t h i n an i n d i v i d u a l ' s p r a c t i c e , but r a t h e r as a process which i s fund-amentally s o c i a l ; as something which a r i s e s between people i n the way t h a t t h e i r a c t i v i t i e s depend upon one another and compliment one another i n an o r g a n i z a t i o n of work. T h i s organ-i z a t i o n became a v a i l a b l e to us by a t t e n d i n g to the language which i s i n t e g r a l to t h a t work. - 19 -- The O b s e r v a t i o n a l S e t t i n g Observations were made i n the newsroom d u r i n g v a r i o u s p e r i o d s of the day. The g r e a t e s t p o r t i o n were made d u r i n g the evening s h i f t , as i t was found t h a t a t t h i s time of day i t was p o s s i b l e to l e a r n a great d e a l about the o r g a n i z a t i o n of the newsroom without my presence there being g r e a t l y d i s r u p t i v e . The afternoons were v i s i t e d a f t e r I had a p r e l i m i n a r y understanding of the s e t t i n g , and f i n a l l y the morning s h i f t was v i s i t e d a few times o n l y , as i t was the b u s i e s t p e r i o d of the day i n the newsroom and the time when my presence there was l e a s t convenient. The c i t y desk, which s u p e r v i s e s the w r i t i n g o f l o c a l news, s i t s i n the c e n t e r of the l a r g e , busy newsroom, adjacent to the c l u s t e r of r e p o r t e r s desks (about 20) and the r e w r i t e desk. The a c t i v i t i e s which we observed were a l l w i t h i n a few paces of one another, e a s i l y w i t h i n view or speaking d i s t a n c e from \ one desk to any ot h e r . T h i s grouping of desks forms a r e c o g n i z a b l e "node" or c i r c u l a t i o n area i n a room which o t h e r -wise, a t f i r s t glance, looks l i k e a c h a o t i c a r r a y o f desks. Because of the 2 4 hour nature o f news work, these desks are occupied by d i f f e r e n t people at d i f f e r e n t hours of the day. The c i t y desk i s occupied d u r i n g most of the day by the c i t y e d i t o r and two: a s s i s t a n t s ; d u r i n g the' evening there i s a:.night, c i t y e d i t o r and u s u a l l y one a s s i s t a n t . ' During days, the r e w r i t e - 20 -desk i s s t a f f e d by one man and u s u a l l y f o u r women; a t n i g h t there i s u s u a l l y one man and one woman. During the mornings there are anywhere from 9 to 14 g e n e r a l r e p o r t e r s a t t h e i r desks; the evenings are h i g h l y v a r i a b l e , r anging from 2 to 10. During the time t h a t I was o b s e r v i n g , I can r e c a l l 5 women on the ge n e r a l r e p o r t i n g s t a f f of 27 and no women i n p o s i t i o n s at the c i t y desk. O r g a n i z a t i o n o f The Research I w o u l d ! l i k e to comment on the o r g a n i z a t i o n of working r e l a t i o n s i n the course of t h i s r e s e a r c h . The f o u n d a t i o n and sense of d i r e c t i o n f o r the e n t e r p r i s e were p r o v i d e d by Dorothy Smith, i n p a r t by the work which i s d i s c u s s e d e a r l i e r i n t h i s chapter. The o b s e r v a t i o n a l work which i s r epresented here was done by me. There were some j o i n t i n t e r v i e w s i n the l a t e r : months o f f i e l d work. During the p e r i o d of f i e l d o b s e r v a t i o n we met onl y twice to d i s c u s s the progress of the work. However, immediately upon ending the p e r i o d of o b s e r v a t i o n i n the newsroom, we began to work r e g u l a r l y t o g e t h e r . We began to have weekly, i n t e n s i v e working s e s s i o n s to b r i n g together the t h e o r e t i c a l and method o l o g i c a l premises from which we began, the f i e l d work experience, and the quesitons t h a t arose i n the course of the work. We worked with the problems t h a t arose both as they had - 21 -i m p l i c a t i o n s f o r our understanding of the processes of news p r o d u c t i o n , and a l s o i n c r e a s i n g l y as they c o n t r i b u t e d t o our understanding of o b s e r v a t i o n and d e s c r i p t i o n as methods of working i n s o c i o l o g y . We gave a g r e a t d e a l of time to con-s i d e r a t i o n s of language and the problem of u s i n g t a l k as data. I t i s these i n t e n s i v e working s e s s i o n s which have to a great extent produced the t h i n k i n g which i s present i n t h i s paper. These s e s s i o n s have been p a r t of the development of some of the r e c e n t , unpublished work of Dorothy Smith which i s r e f e r r e d to i n t h i s paper, p a r t of my understanding of t h a t work, and p a r t of the development of my own t h i n k i n g which i s presented here. I t has been i n v a r i o u s ways a j o i n t work, i n as much as t h a t i s p o s s i b l e between teacher and student, and has progressed as a d i a l o g u e . I t i s i n regard f o r t h i s d i a l o g u e t h a t I have found i t necessary to r e f e r i n p o r t i o n s - o f t h i s paper to "we" i n s t e a d of " I " . I t w i l l be c l e a r t h a t i n e s s e n t i a l ways t h i s work has o n l y been p o s s i b l e by t a k i n g the work of Dorothy Smith as the p l a c e to begin my own work. I have as w e l l made e x t e n s i v e use of the work of other s c h o l a r s who p r o v i d e the community of s c h o l a r s h i p w i t h i n which Smith's work belongs. However, the procedure f o r doing s o c i o l o g y which I have been i n t e r e s t e d i n l e a r n i n g does depend upon Smith's r a t h e r i n n o v a t i v e use of these o t h e r works. Thus Smith's work i s the primary p o i n t of r e f e r e n c e f o r my work. - 22 -The work of doing s o c i o l o g y and the work of d i s c o v e r i n g how t o do i t ' h a v e been i n s e p a r a b l e i n t h i s r e s e a r c h e n t e r p r i s e . The p r e s e n t paper w i l l demonstrate t h i s ; i t i s a t the same time an e f f o r t to l e a r n and p a r t i c i p a t e i n d e v e l o p i n g a procedure f o r doing s o c i o l o g y , and an e f f o r t t o begin to use t h a t method to understand the s o c i a l world. In what f o l l o w s , Chapter 2 w i l l d i s c u s s the procedure f o r enquiry which i s used i n t h i s work and i t s o r g i n s , and w i l l e x p l o r e some aspects of d e s c r i p t i v e method. Chapter 3 w i l l i n t r o d u c e examples of the type of accounts which are recommended as an a l t e r n a t i v e to d e s c r i p t i o n . - 23 -CHAPTER TWO ON DESCRIPTIVE METHOD I would l i k e t o i n t r o d u c e very b r i e f l y the way i n which t h i s work w i l l proceed and then d i s c u s s the v a r i o u s works which e s t a b l i s h the b a s i s f o r t h i s procedure. ^ The work i s most s t r o n g l y c h a r a c t e r i z e d by beginning w i t h the forms i n which the world o r d i n a r i l y appears to us, i n terms of which i t i s known by us, and which appear to e x i s t as the forms by which the world i s o r g a n i z e d independently of our i n d i v i d u a l a c t i v i t i e s . I t proceeds toward d e v e l o p i n g an account of those forms which shows, to the c o n t r a r y , how they come about p r e c i s e l y i n the p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s of people. I t i s the work of r e t u r n i n g the standard s o c i o l o g i c a l c a t e g o r i e s - power, a u t h o r i t y , communications, crime, mental i l l n e s s , e t c . - to the p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s i n which they are c o n s t i t u t e d ; to make observable a c t u a l people doing the a c t i v i t i e s which b r i n g i n t o b e i n g what i s named by these terms. T h i s way of working i n s o c i o l o g y i s developedc i n the work of Dorothy Smith. I t i s i n i t i a l l y p resented i n a paper e n t i t l e d , "The I d e o l o g i c a l P r a c t i c e of S o c i o l o g y " (1974a) which i s both - 24 -a c r i t i q u e of sociology and the beginnings of a : d i f f e r e n t method of working. Smith begins to set out a procedure for doing sociology which w i l l begin to make v i s i b l e how i t comes about that i n our kind of society there i s the appearance of "acts and events without d o e r s f a c t s and information without knowers". (Smith, 1974a:28) She defines the:essential work of sociology as that of describing the s o c i a l process i n terms of the a c t i v i t i e s which bring i t into being. She di r e c t s us to: ...the p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s of actual l i v i n g individuals as the s o c i a l r e a l i t y with which the s o c i a l s c i e n t i s t i s concerned... I t i s the p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t y of actual l i v i n g individuals which both i s and produces the phenomena with which the s o c i a l s c i e n t i s t i s concerned;...whatever becomes observable to the s o c i a l scientist', under whatever form of thought has no existence other than as i t i s constituted by what men do. (Smith, 1974a:7) Smith points out, however, that she i s "not recommending a simple return to the experienced world v i a a return to observational procedures as a way of doing sociology". (Smith, 1974a:25) On the contrary, she begins with the understanding that much of what determines our everyday experience i s not available to us within the bounds of ordinary experience. Rather, i t i s to be found i n the processes of organization and administration which transform the experiences of individuals into forms i n which they can be known and managed from within the bureaucratic mode of organization which i s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of our society, and i n which the 'doers' and the 'knowers' disappear. These mediating processes are the focus of the kind of sociology Smith.is - 25 -recommending. These processes o f t r a n s f o r m i n g are themselves a p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t y of r e a l people i n a c t u a l s e t t i n g s o f work, though i n the o r d i n a r y r e l a t i o n of o b s e r v i n g the everyday world, they are rendered i n v i s i b l e as a c o n d i t i o n t o what we see. Thus, what Smith i s recommending, i s t h a t we i n s i s t on pa s s i n g through the forms i n which the world i s o r d i n a r i l y o b s e r vable, to d i s c o v e r how t h a t appearance i s i t s e l f a product of peoples' a c t i v i t i e s . T h i s way of working a r i s e s p r i m a r i l y out of the use Smith has made of Marx. In the pages t h a t f o l l o w we w i l l examine b r i e f l y some of the aspects o f Marx which she has drawn on, and begin to i d e n t i f y how Smith has used them to do s o c i o l o g y . Smith's use of Marx i s p r i m a r i l y focussed on method. She begins w i t h what Marx and Engels c a l l "the f i r s t premises o f the m a t e r i a l i s t method": The premises from which we begin are not a r b i t r a r y ones, not dogmas... they are r e a l i n d i v i d u a l s , t h e i r a c t i v i t y , and the m a t e r i a l c o n d i t i o n s under which they l i v e , both those which they a l r e a d y f i n d e x i s t i n g , and those produced by t h e i r a c t i v i t y . ^ (Marx and Engels, 1970:42) In t a k i n g up the m a t e r i a l i s t method, Smith i s f o c u s s i n g on an aspect of Marx which has been n e g l e c t e d among M a r x i s t s . I t i s the method which arose f o r Marx i n the course of h i s work; i t - 26 -f i r s t began to take shape 'in the German: Idedlogy, and then became a f u l l y developed method of working i n C a p i t a l . Smith i s c a r e f u l to d e f i n e the r e l a t i o n which i s to be understood between her work and t h i s method: The method which we began to work wi t h i s a method which i s d e r i v e d from Marx's m e t h o d . [ I t ] can't be t r e a t e d as an e x p l i c a t i o n o f Marx; i t i s d e r i v e d from h i s work, and:'is d e r i v e d from h i s work as a b a s i s on which to procede f o l l o w i n g a method which he innovated, but not n e c e s s a r i l y simply r e p l i c a t i n g t h a t method; t h a t i s , i t i s aimed to do the work of s o c i o l o g y , r a t h e r than p o l i t i c a l economy; i t i s aimed to do the work of s o c i o l o g y i n t h i s time and not i n the 19th century; and t h e r e f o r e no e f f o r t has been made to be f a i t h f u l to Marx i n a p i o u s or r e l i g i o u s sense. (Smith, 1977b) In the prese n t paper, s i n c e our concern w i l l be not p r i m a r i l y w i t h Marx, but with Smith's use of Marx,. I w i l l r e l y h e a v i l y on Smith's work, and i n p a r t i c u l a r her r e c e n t , unpublished work. Smith begins with Marx's view of s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s . She p o i n t s out t h a t Marx's use of t h i s term i s not the same as the o r d i n a r y s o c i o l o g i c a l use. That i s , s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s to Marx are not c o n t e x t s , not s t a t i c c o n f i g u r a t i o n s , not a background i n t o which peoples a c t i v i t i e s are i n s e r t e d . Rather Marx uses the term s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s to mean the a c t u a l p r a c t i c e s which o r g a n i z e persons i n r e l a t i o n to one another. They are the l i v e d connections between persons t h a t are c o n s t i t u t e d i n p r a c t i c a l - 27 -a c t i v i t i e s . R e l a t i o n s are p r a c t i c e d ; t h e i r p r a c t i c e i s an observable a c t i v i t y , a p a r t of how t h i n g s get done. The way i n which Marx proceeds w i t h the under-s t a n d i n g of s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s i s r e a l l y q u i t e d i f f e r e n t . S o c i a l r e l a t i o n s f o l l o w i n g Marx are the a c t u a l p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s of i n d i v i d u a l s . That i s , s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s are not apart from, not a means t o understanding s o c i a l a c t i o n , not a context f o r s o c i a l a c t i o n , but are indeed the a c t u a l a c t i v i t i e s ; the a c t u a l a c t i v i t i e s not understood as the a c t i v i t i e s o f i n d i v i d u a l s but understood i n terms of r e l a t i o n s which they both o r g a n i z e and are organ i z e d by. (Smith, 1977b) Accor d i n g to Smith, Marx sees t h a t s o c i a l phenomena such as labour, c a p i t a l , wages, commodities, p r o f i t , e t c . , are s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s , though they do not appear as such. (Marx, n.d.) That i s , they a r i s e i n the performance of a r e l a t i o n , a p a r t i c u l a r r e l a t i o n . The terms do not name a g e n e r a l i z e d f e a t u r e of economic process; they are not forms of o r g a n i z a t i o n i n t o which people are i n s e r t e d ; they are not o b j e c t i v e f e a t u r e s of the s o c i a l world. The terms name s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s which are produced, e x i s t o n l y i n the a c t u a l a c t i v i t i e s o f r e a l people. And indeed they o n l y a r i s e i n those a c t i v i t i e s over time. There i s a temporal process i n which t h i n g s become r e a l i z e d as what they are. Smith uses the examples from Marx of commodities: In Marx's view, a commodity, ...as an a c t u a l p a r t i c u l a r event i s not r e a l i z e d as such, i s not y e t completed as a commodity by v i r t u e of being produced f o r "a market, by v i r t u e of being s t o r e d i n a warehouse; i t becomes a - 28 -commodity i n the process of e n t e r i n g i n t o market exchange, the exchange of monies f o r commodities. I t i s not r e a l i z e d . . . o t h e r than i n t h i s process which i s d e s c r i b e d as s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s . This." i s how I have attempted to understand t h a t term. (Smith, 1977a) Th i s view of s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s does a l o t of work f o r Marx. I t allows him to see t h a t economic r e l a t i o n s which appear as r e l a t i o n s between t h i n g s - money and commodities - are i n f a c t r e l a t i o n s between people. (Marx, n.d.) The terms - wages, labour, p r o f i t , c a p i t a l , commodity - o r i g i n a t e i n the p r a c t i c e a c t i v i t i e s which are the performance of the r e l a t i o n s named by these terms. In order f o r e.g. commodities- to come i n t o b e i n g , there have to be these p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s . Commodities are c o n s t i t u t e d as f e a t u r e s of the economic process p r e c i s e l y i n and by the a c t u a l p r a c t i c e s among people which are ordered i n that way and named by t h a t term. The appearance of economic r e l a t i o n s as r e l a t i o n s among t h i n g s i s i t s e l f produced by the o r g a n i z a t i o n of peoples' a c t i v i t i e s i n p r o d u c t i o n . T h i s understanding becomes the b a s i s of Marx's c r i t i q u e of p o l i t i c a l economy. I w i l l quote a t l e n g t h from Smith, who summarizes the c r i t i q u e : The m e t h o d o l o g i c a l c r i t i q u e which Marx makes of p o l i t i c a l economy... begins from terms t h a t are taken as e s s e n t i a l p a r t s o f the economic p r o c e s s , e s s e n t i a l p a r t s of the process which c o n s t i t u t e s s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s . That i s terms l i k e wages, commodities, c a p i t a l , p r o f i t , e t c . , e t c . are terms which are used i n the bu s i n e s s o f g e t t i n g the i - 29 -economy done. And they do not a r i s e out the t e c h n i c a l work of p o l i t i c a l economists. They are the terms t h a t are p a r t of the o r i g i n a l s o c i a l p r o c e s s . Hence t h e i r very e x i s t e n c e as c a t e g o r i e s which are p o t e n t i a l l y p a r t of a s c i e n t i f i c d i s c o u r s e ' i s an h i s t o r i c a l phenomenon. P o l i t i c a l economy begins w i t h these c a t e g o r i e s and concepts... but i n l o s i n g s i g h t of the a c t u a l s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s i n which the phenomenon they name a r i s e s , p o l i t i c a l economists come to t r e a t the p a r t i c u l a r l o c a l c a t e g o r i e s of c a p i t a l i s m as the f o r e v e r f e a t u r e s of economic r e l a t i o n s . ...Thus they understand the economic process as a r i s i n g from the way i n which i t i s c o n c e p t u a l i z e d r a t h e r than beginning to ground t h e i r c a t e g o r i e s and concepts i n the a c t u a l i t i e s of s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s of which those c a t e g o r i e s are o r i g i n a l l y a p a r t and which b r i n g them i n t o e x i s t e n c e as phenomenon...used by the p o l i t i c a l economists i n the development o f t h a t as a s c i e n t i f i c d i s c o u r s e . (Smith, 1977a) So we see t h a t the p o l i t i c a l economists have proceeded as t h e o r i s t s i n a manner t h a t i s fundamentally a t odds w i t h how Marx understands the phenomena to be put t o g e t h e r . They use terms by l i f t i n g them out of the s p e c i f i c s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s on which they depend, and t r e a t i n g them as g e n e r a l i z e d c a t e g o r i e s t h a t apply throughout h i s t o r y . (Marx, 1963) In t h i s way, the c a t e g o r i e s of economic a n a l y s i s come to obscure the a c t u a l p r a c t i c e of economic r e l a t i o n s . So i t i s to the terms themselves t h a t Marx i s d i r e c t e d as the p l a c e t o b e g i n i n v h i s own method of working. He proceeds by beginning from the terms which he f i n d s i n the d i s c o u r s e of p o l i t i c a l economists - wages, commodities, e t c . , - and working to r e d i s c o v e r the a c t u a l p r a c t i c e s which they name. He takes - 30 -the terms and t r a c k s back through them to the or g a n i z e d p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t y of g e t t i n g t h i n g s done i n which the terms arose and i n which t h e i r meaning r e s i d e s . The p r a c t i c e s , not the terms, then become the b a s i s of h i s understanding o f economic r e l a t i o n s ; " . . . r e a l i n d i v i d u a l s , t h e i r a c t i v i t y , and the m a t e r i a l c o n d i t i o n s under which they l i v e . . . " (Marx and Engels, 1970). y Smith has c a l l e d t h i s method of proceeding one of " s u b s t r u c t i n g " . That i s . . . y o u begin from the terms... the concepts of (e.g.) p o l i t i c a l economy, and then the s o c i a l s c i e n t i s t proceeds by a work of r e t u r n i n g to the a c t u a l s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s which generate those phenomena as they are named, the a c t u a l p r a c t i c e s of r e a l l i v i n g i n d i v i d u a l s , which are the onl y b a s i s f o r the e x i s t e n c e of s o c i a l phenomena. ' (Smith, 1977b) Smith has made use of t h i s whole c r i t i c a l procedure and method of work from Marx as the b a s i s f o r her c r i t i q u e of s o c i o l o g y and recommendations .for how to proceed d i f f e r e n t l y w i t h s o c i o l o g i c a l enquiry. (See " I d e o l o g i c a l P r a c t i c e o f So c i o l o g y " Smith, 1974a.) She argues t h a t s o c i o l o g i s t s have proceeded by p r e c i s e l y the method which Marx i d e n t i f i e s . They have taken terms which a r i s e i n the s o c i a l process to name v a r i o u s aspects of experience, and l i f t e d them out i n t o a s c i e n t i f i c d i s c o u r s e which i s engaged i n t r y i n g to r e p r e s e n t the s o c i a l world i n conceptual form. ,In t h i s use of terms they - 31 -become separated from t h e i r grounding i n the p r a c t i c e s of r e a l people, and come to r e p r e s e n t i n s t e a d a conceptualization-.and g e n e r a l i z a t i o n of those p r a c t i c e s . Thus the i n d i v i d u a l s u b j e c t s , the a c t o r s , disappear. T h i s i s a l s o the method t h a t informs the p r e s e n t work on d e s c r i p t i o n s . The procedure p r o v i d e s the b a s i s f o r a . c r i t i q u e of s o c i o l o g i c a l d e s c r i p t i o n , and the b a s i s f o r an a l t e r n a t i v e method of doing accounts. The i m p l i c a t i o n s o f t h i s c r i t i q u e however, are not c o n f i n e d to the s o c i o l o g i c a l e n t e r p r i s e . The c r i t i q u e a p p l i e s e q u a l l y to d e s c r i p t i o n as i t i s a f e a t u r e of many aspects of academic, p r o f e s s i o n a l , and a d m i n i s t r a t i v e work, as w e l l as a f e a t u r e of o r d i n a r y c o n v e r s a t i o n . I t i s the d e s c r i p t i v e method as a p a r t i c u l a r use of language which i s common to a l l these, on which we s h a l l f o c u s . One of the t h i n g s t h a t Marx's work does f o r us i s to focus our a t t e n t i o n on the use of language. His work c l e a r l y p o i n t s out t h a t terms can be seen to work q u i t e d i f f e r e n t l y i n d i f f e r e n t s e t t i n g s of use. He l o c a t e s f o r us two d i s t i n c t s e t t i n g s : the o r i g i n a l , working use of language and a secondary, d e r i v a t i v e use of language to r e p r e s e n t or c o n c e p t u a l i z e , such as i n doing d e s c r i b i n g . Smith makes t h i s o b s e r v a t i o n about h i s work: Marx's method can be seen i n the f i r s t p l a c e as l o c a t i n g the terms i n two modes: f i r s t , so t h a t you can see terms such as wages, p r o f i t , commodites, e t c . , as p a r t of the o r i g i n a l working p r a c t i c e s , - 32 -the working s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s i n which the phenomenon has i t s e x i s t e n c e and i n which i t s naming i s an a c t u a l p a r t of t h a t a c t i v i t y , a p a r t of^ the work; and second, a t the l e v e l where the i d e o l o g i s t or the s o c i a l s c i e n t i s t s - w o r k s , where t h a t l a n g -uage becomes i n c o r p o r a t e d i n t o the p r a c t i c e of a d i s c o u r s e . (Smith, 1977b) These realms of language usage are a c t u a l l y d i f f e r e n t as a p r a c t i c a l matter: they are d i f f e r e n t e n t e r p r i s e s , and they operate q u i t e d i f f e r e n t l y . In the f i r s t case, i n the working s e t t i n g , terms o r i g i n a l l y have meaning by naming the o r g a n i z e d p r a c t i c e s of which they are a p a r t ; t h e i r meaning i s embedded i n the a c t i o n which they express. In the second case, the s e t t i n g of s o c i a l s c i e n c e terms are l i f t e d out of t h a t r e l a t i o n i n which t h e i r meaning a r i s e s , and are used to r e f l e c t c o n c e p t u a l l y t h a t o r g a n i z a t i o n of p r a c t i c e s . In t h i s usage, the term has meaning by r e p r e s e n t i n g a c t i v i t i e s ^ , t h a t i s by s t a n d i n g i n f o r them, r e p l a c i n g them. Th i s aspect of Marx's work p o i n t s to an understanding of language which i s not u n l i k e the n o t i o n found i n W i t t g e n s t e i n (1953) of language games, t h a t i s , v a r i o u s forms of "language and the a c t i o n s i n t o which i t i s woven" (19 53:5e) which have t h e i r own c h a r a c t e r i s t i c ways of proceeding. W i t t g e n s t e i n t e l l s us t h a t words do indeed work d i f f e r e n t l y i n d i f f e r e n t contexts and t h e r e f o r e "how" words mean i s an e s s e n t i a l p a r t of "what" they mean. That i s , the s e t t i n g or - 33 -the o c c a s i o n f o r the use of a word i s p a r t of what g i v e s i t meaning. He then uses t h i s understanding as the b a s i s f o r a method of d i s c o v e r i n g "the essence" of a word. He recommends f o r p h i l o s o p h e r s a method of work which i s very s i m i l a r to the c r i t i c a l procedure used by Marx wi t h the terms of p o l i t i c a l economy. W i t t g e n s t e i n c a l l s i t " b r i n g i n g words back from t h e i r m e t a p h y s i c a l t o t h e i r everyday use". In the P h i l o s o p h i c a l  I n v e s t i g a t i o n he w r i t e s : When p h i l o s o p h e r s use a word, 'knowledge 1, 'being', 'o b j e c t ' , ' I ' , ' p r o p o s i t i o n ' , 'name', and t r y to grasp the essence of the t h i n g , one must always ask o n e s e l f : i s the word ever a c t u a l l y used i n t h i s way i n the language-game which i s i t s o r i g i n a l home? (Wi t t g e n s t e i n , 1953:48e) Smith a p p l i e s t h i s approach to a c r i t i q u e of s o c i o l o g i c a l d e s c r i p t i o n . What t h i s does, again l i k e the work of Marx, i s to c a l l a t t e n t i o n to the manner i n which words are -used, as a t o p i c i n i t s own r i g h t which needs examining. Smith says: I want to take up W i t t g e n s t e i n ' s recommendation f o r the s o c i o l o g i s t . . . I want to look a t d e s c r i p t i o n s as a language game...as t h i n g s t h a t go on i n d e f i n i t e s e t t i n g s , t h a t have d e f i n i t e kinds of methods of g e t t i n g them done; t h a t i s , a d e f i n i t e use of words, a d e f i n i t e way of meaning.... In d e s c r i p t i o n s , what we do i s procede i n a way which c r e a t e s the kinds of problems t h a t s o c i o l o g i s t s experience i n the use of c a t e g o r i e s and, i n the use of concepts. What we need to do to remedy t h i s i s to begin t o ask, how the word i s a c t u a l l y used i n the language game which i s i t s o r i g i n a l home, and how do we b r i n g words back from t h e i r "metaphysical to t h e i r everyday use". (Smith, 1977b) - 34 -Thus the view t h a t language has more than one k i n d of use and t h a t the uses themselves are p a r t of how words take t h e i r meaning, begins to p r o v i d e the b a s i s f o r a c r i t i q u e of d e s c r i p t i o n . , By f o c u s s i n g on the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c f e a t u r e s of the separate modes of language use, and e x p l o r i n g the r e l a t i o n between the two modes, we begin to have a b a s i s f o r understanding how the d e s c r i p t i v e method mediates the r e l a t i o n between the account and the a c t u a l i t y i t claims to d e s c r i b e . In t h i s paper we w i l l e x p l o r e : I. How the d e s c r i p t i v e method g i v e s a determinate c h a r a c t e r t o the a c t u a l i t y b e i ng d e s c r i b e d ; I I . How the d e s c r i p t i v e method obscures the o r g a n i z e d r e l a t i o n s of knowing as p a r t of the c o n s t i t u t i o n of the phenomenon; I I I . How the d e s c r i p t i v e use of terms i s dependent upon the o r i g i n a l working s e t t i n g , and how t h a t dependence may be u t i l i z e d to develop an a l t e r -n a t i v e procedure f o r doing accounts. - 35 -I. How the d e s c r i p t i v e method g i v e s determinate c h a r a c t e r  to i t s s u b j e c t . A g e n e r a l understanding of the f e a t u r e s of the d e s c r i p t i v e method i s p a r t of what i s beginning to emerge out of the ongoing r e s e a r c h which i s the source of t h i s paper. While i t i s not y e t p o s s i b l e to d e f i n e s y s t e m a t i c a l l y the p r o p e r t i e s of the d e s c r i p t i v e method, some aspects of i t are becoming v i s i b l e . Smith p o i n t s out one f e a t u r e of d e s c r i p t i v e method which i s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the method of t r e a t i n g f a c t u a l d e s c r i p t i o n s i n p a r t i c u l a r . That i s , t h a t we tend to use terms as though they r e f e r e n c e the world; as though we c o u l d pass through the d e s c r i p t i o n to a r e a l world which l i e s beyond. T h i s f i r s t becomes v i s i b l e as a method of r e a d i n g . One of the c o n s t r a i n t s of a d e s c r i p t i v e r e a d i n g , i s t h a t we take the d e s c r i p t i o n to be a d e s c r i p t i o n of something, t h a t i s t h a t there i s an a c t u a l i t y , and...the method of readi n g t h a t we use i s t h a t we 'pass through' the d e s c r i p t i o n t o an a c t u a l i t y on the other s i d e . So t h a t what we tend to do when re a d i n g a f a c t u a l d e s c r i p t i o n a t l e a s t , i s to almost f o r g e t about the a c t u a l terminology, the k i n d of grammatical c o n s t r u c t i o n s and the r e l a t i o n s t h a t have been s e t up f o r us, to t r e a t an a c t u a l i t y on the oth e r s i d e o f i t as i f i t were i n some sense a v a i l a b l e to us by v i r t u e of the d e s c r i p t i o n . . . T h i s i s a method of re a d i n g , a very d e f i n i t e p r a c t i c e of r e a d i n g which we make use of i n re a d i n g f a c t u a l accounts. (Smith, 1977b)' Th i s p a r t i c u l a r method, of p a s s i n g through a d e s c r i p t i o n to an a c t u a l i t y on the other s i d e , i s not a u n i v e r s a l f e a t u r e of how we make meaning with words, but a d e f i n i t e p r a c t i c e of - 36 -meaning which i s p a r t of what c o n s t i t u t e s some accounts as f a c t u a l . Smith p o i n t s out f o r example, t h a t we do not use t h i s procedure i n readi n g f i c t i o n s ; we do not t r e a t f i c t i o n a l accounts as r e f e r e n c i n g an a c t u a l i t y i n the same way. A f a c t u a l account, on the other hand, i s dependent f o r i t s c h a r a c t e r on t h i s s u p p o s i t i o n ; t h a t what i s named i n the d e s c r i p t i o n has a r e f e r e n t i n a c t u a l i t y . What happens i n t h i s process o f r e a d i n g through i s t h a t aspects of the method being used become t r a n s f e r r e d to the a c t u a l i t y as i t s f e a t u r e s . I t becomes im p o s s i b l e to d i s t i n g u i s h f e a t u r e s of the a c t u a l i t y from f e a t u r e s of the method used t o re p r e s e n t i t . Smith has c a l l e d t h i s process one of t r a n s -ference . We w i l l focus on one ou t s t a n d i n g c h a r a c t e r i s t i c t h a t i s t r a n s f e r r e d by the d e s c r i p t i v e method, which i s the sense t h a t what l i e s beyond the d e s c r i p t i o n i s a "thing".' That i s , the method tends t o o b j e c t i f y - t o make o b j e c t s o f - v a r i o u s f e a t u r e s o f the s o c i a l ^ p r o c e s s which are not o r i g i n a l l y o b j e c t s a t a l l , but r a t h e r have t h e i r e x i s t e n c e o n l y i n t h e : p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s of i n d i v i d u a l s . The foremost example of t h i s o b j e c t i f i c a t i o n which we have been e x p l o r i n g i s the n o t i o n of news i t s e l f . News i s g e n e r a l l y assumed t o be some-thing which happens i n the s o c i a l world, - 37 -and i s then r e p o r t e d i n a newspaper. New-ness i s assumed to be an i n h e r e n t q u a l i t y of c e r t a i n events which can be found by those who know how to r e c o g n i z e i t . News i s thought to be a v a i l a b l e to o b s e r v a t i o n ; i t can be found by l o o k i n g f o r i t . "Newsgathering" i s a commonly used term which i l l u s t r a t e s t h a t t h i s c h a r a c t e r of news i s assumed; t h a t news can be gathered l i k e mushrooms. I t i s i n t e r e s t i n g to observe t h a t j o u r n a l i s t s and s o c i o l -o g i s t s a l i k e seem to f i n d i t e x t r a o r d i n a r i l y d i f f i c u l t to e x p l a i n e x a c t l y what t h i s something c a l l e d news a c t u a l l y i s , except t h a t they know i t when they f i n d i t . Even how they f i n d i t seems to be d i f f i c u l t to e x p l a i n . When r e p o r t e r s t a l k or w r i t e about t h e i r work,- they use phrases l i k e "nose for / i n e w s " o r "news sense" or "the j u i c e s s t a r t f l o w i n g " to i d e n t i f y the method which they use. F i n d i n g news i s s a i d to be an a b i l i t y t h a t evades d e s c r i p t i o n ; i t can't be communicated or taught. Some people are s a i d to be more g i f t e d with i t than o t h e r s . One r e p o r t e r s t a t e d i t simply: "I'm not sure what news i s ; I'm q u i t e s e r i o u s about t h i s . I t h i n k I can r e c o g n i z e i t . " ( F i e l d n o t e s , n.d.) What i s important to n o t i c e i s t h a t newsmen don't have t r o u b l e w i t h what hews i s i n the working context. They r o u t i n e l y f i n d i t and r e p o r t i t . The newspaper as a b u s i n e s s e n t e r p r i s e depends upon r e p o r t e r s producing a c o n s i s t e n t supply of news - 38 -s t o r i e s , a t dependable times each day. As a working p r a c t i c e , news i s c l e a r l y not e v a s i v e . The d i f f i c u l t y i n d e f i n i n g what news i s a r i s e s i n t h e use o f "news" as a te r m i n a d e s c r i p t i v e c o n t e x t , where i t i s t r e a t e d as i f i t were p o s s i b l e t o pass t h r o u g h i t t o an o b j e c t i n t h e w o r l d w h i c h conforms t o t h a t d e s c r i p t i o n . . The problem i s t h a t the r e f e r e n c i n g p r o c e d u r e doesn't work; you c a n ' t f i n d news i n t h e w o r l d as an o b j e c t w h i c h conforms t o t h e d e s c r i p t i o n s t h a t j o u r n a l i s t s and s o c i o l o g i s t s make o f i t . The r e a s o n t h a t you c a n ' t f i n d i t i s because t h e way i n whi c h news i s d e s c r i b e d i s f u n d a m e n t a l l y a t odds w i t h how the a c t u a l i t y i s put t o g e t h e r . T h i s i s c l e a r i f we l o o k b a c k , t o t h e w o r k i n g p r a c t i c e s o f the newsroom t o u n d e r s t a n d t h e term as i t a r i s e s t h e r e . That news i n a working context can be d e f i n e d only as an a c t u a l ongoing r e l a t i o n between the work of the r e p o r t e r and the e d i t o r , and e t c . I t i s a term t h a t i s p a r t o f the work, t h a t does the work, t h a t i s used i n t a l k i n g about the work; and i n those c o n t e x t s . . . i t i s not used at a l l as i t i s used to d e s c r i b e , when you are doing the work of d e s c r i p t i o n . Immediately i n the d e s c r i p t i v e context, q u i t e d i f f e r e n t t h i n g s are done wi t h t h a t term. I t i s t r e a t e d as i f i t names something t h a t we can f i n d very much as we might walk through the f i e l d s l o o k i n g f o r a p a r t i c u l a r s p e c i e s of b u t t e r f l y . We take the c h a r a c t e r of the d e s c r i p t i v e work and we supply t h a t to the o r i g i n a l we c o n s t i t u t e the o r i g i n a l ; i n the shape given i t by the method of d e s c r i p t i o n . . . Though you can f i n d the term, you can't f i n d the phenomenon t h a t corresponds to i t . (Smith, 1977b) - 39 -Here i s a very common and v i s i b l e example of the d e s c r i p t i v e method a t work. What happens i s t h a t the term "news" i s l i f t e d out of the org a n i z e d p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s o f the p r o d u c t i o n of news s t o r i e s and i s t r e a t e d as i f i t named an o b j e c t which was a f e a t u r e of the s o c i a l world. The o r g a n i z e d p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s of news p r o d u c t i o n are taken f o r granted, and what i s s u b s t i t u t e d i n t h e i r p l a c e i s the product of those a c t i v i t i e s , "news", g i v i n g i t the appearance t h a t i t i s not s o c i a l l y produced but i s r a t h e r an o b j e c t which r e s i d e s i n the s o c i a l world. Thus what the d e s c r i p t i v e method does i s to o b j e c t i f y a term which i s not o r i g i n a l l y an o b j e c t a t a l l , but a working term i n the p r a c t i c e of s o c i a l r e l a t i o n . T h i s i s what Marx o r i g i n a l l y showed us. Our experience i n the newsroom p r o v i d e d us with a number of examples of t h i s d e s c r i p t i v e mechanism a t work. I t was a s i g n i f i c a n t problem f o r us s p e c i f i c a l l y because the method which org a n i z e d our r e l a t i o n to the s e t t i n g as observers whose i n t e n t was to d e s c r i b e , and our r e l a t i o n to informants who t o l d us about t h e i r work was,, i n f a c t , the d e s c r i p t i v e method. I t was e x a c t l y t h i s method which c r e a t e d the problems we experienced, over and over, of being unable t o f i n d the phenomena which we knew by t h e i r d e s c r i p t i o n . And i t was because the way we were f u n c t i o n i n g was e s s e n t i a l l y a t odds w i t h how the o b j e c t s of our enquiry were c o n s t i t u t e d . - 40 -Here i s an excerpt from my working notes: There i s t h i s moment when what we are l o o k i n g a t , or l o o k i n g f o r , seems t o t a l l y e v a s i v e or i n v i s i b l e . A f t e r a few days at the c i t y desk, I s a t down and wrote a note to myself t h a t I had looked a l l over f o r assignments and c o u l d n ' t f i n d them anywhere! S i m i l a r l y , D o r o t h y d i d . i t ; speaking of a s t o r y she was t r y i n g to f i n d the o r i g i n s o f , she s a i d , " I t ' s r e a l l y i n c r e d i b l e ; I ask myself what happened, and nothing happened, r e a l l y . I t ' s j u s t t h i s p u l l i n g t o g e t h e r . . . " These are the moments of se e i n g t h a t terms l i k e " s t o r y " or "assignment" which c l a i m to d e s c r i b e something more or l e s s t a n g i b l e , are r a t h e r the d e s c r i p t i o n s of something l i k e a s o c i a l form...a s o c i a l r e l a t i o n , or o r g a n i z a t i o n of p r a c t i c e s which g i v e s form to something.... We want to connect up those p r a c t i c e s l i k e an o r c h e s t r a t i o n ; s e e i n g the o r c h e s t r a t i o n is_ s e e i n g those terms g e t t i n g done. I t i s j u s t a matter of being a b l e to show how t h a t works. We began to work on the r e l a t i o n between our sense t h a t we c o u l d n ' t f i n d t h i n g s , l i k e news or assignments or s t o r i e s , and the n o t i o n t h a t the d e s c r i p t i v e use of language makes an o b j e c t of the o r g a n i z a t i o n of p r a c t i c e s i n which words a r i s e . What we found was t h a t the understanding of how d e s c r i p t i o n works d i d begin to account f o r our sense t h a t we c o u l d n ' t f i n d t h i n g s . In the case of assignments or s t o r i e s , i f . we took the terms to r e p r e s e n t an o b j e c t i v e phenomenon, as would be c o n v e n t i o n a l , then we were sent o f f on a search: where do assignments come from; what i s a s t o r y , e t c . We d i d s t a r t with those q u e s t i o n s . Only we n o t i c e d t h a t there was t h i s k i n d of gap, t h i s moment i n which we saw t h a t "nothing happened, r e a l l y , " or t h a t "they are nowhere to be found". From t h i s we began to see t h a t these s o - c a l l e d o b j e c t s were r a t h e r o r g a n i z e d r e l a t i o n s . - 41 -What a l s o began to be c l e a r f o r us i s how i t i s p o s s i b l e t o use words which have t h i s "mushy" base, which do not r e p r e s e n t an o b j e c t i v e phenomenon, but r a t h e r a s o c i a l one (e.g. commodity, news). I t i s p o s s i b l e t o use them because they are p r o v i d e d f o r by an o r g a n i z a t i o n of p r a c t i c e s ; you depend upon t h a t o r g a n i z a t i o n i n u s i n g the term. (See S e c t i o n I I I below.) So we began to see t h a t we had to look d i f f e r e n t l y f o r the aspects o f news p r o d u c t i o n which were rep r e s e n t e d by the terms we had l e a r n e d to use. We began to see t h a t the terms represented s o c i a l l y o r g a n i z e d phenomenon, not o b j e c t i v e f e a t u r e s of the s o c i a l world. So i t was to the s o c i a l l y o r g a n i z e d p r a c t i c e s i n which they were c o n s t i t u t e d t h a t we needed to t u r n , and t h a t among those s o c i a l l y o r g a n i z e d p r a c t i c e s was the work of d e s c r i p t i o n which produced the appearance of o b j e c t s . So t h a t we had to l o c a t e two a s p e c t s : a) the o r g a n i z e d r e l a t i o n o f knowing i n which o b j e c t s were c o n s t i t u t e d as e x t e r n a l t o the p r a c t i c e s by which they were made known, e,g. the d e s c r i p t i v e method. T h i s i s the problem d i s c u s s e d i n S e c t i o n I I below. b) the org a n i z e d p r a c t i c e s of news p r o d u c t i o n which c o n s i t u t e e.g. s t o r i e s , assignments or sources of news as something which c o u l d be s a i d or named i n t h a t way. T h i s problem w i l l be addressed i n Chapter Three. - 42 -I I . How the d e s c r i p t i v e method obscures the o r g a n i z e d r e l a t i o n  of knowing as p a r t of how the o b j e c t i s c o n s t i t u t e d . What Smith shows us i s t h a t c o n v e n t i o n a l d e s c r i p t i o n works i d e o l o g i c a l l y ; t h a t i s , i t r e p r e s e n t s the phenomenon i n a way t h a t excludes the p r a c t i c e s on which i t depends, i n c l u d i n g the p r a c t i c e s o f d e s c r i p t i o n which are p a r t of how the-phenomenon i s c o n s t i t u t e d . Conventional d e s c r i p t i o n s e t s up an o r g a n i z a t i o n i n which the o b j e c t of d e s c r i p t i o n appears as w holly e x t e r n a l to the work of making i t known. The observer i s excluded from i t s c o n s t i t u t i o n ; the r e l a t i o n of knowing i s r u p t u r e d . In t h i s way d e s c r i p t i o n i s an i n t e r p r e t i v e p r a c t i c e imposed on the o b j e c t i t s e l f as i t s f e a t u r e s . I t c o n s t i t u t e s i n d e s c r i p t i o n an o b j e c t which i s given the appearance of e x i s t i n g i n the n a t u r a l world. The r e p r e s e n t a t i o n of the o b j e c t of our d e s c r i p t i v e work as out there and independent o f our r e l a t i o n i s a product of the work of d e s c r i p t i o n i t s e l f . . . . In s o c i o l o g i c a l d e s c r i p t i o n , you are e n j o i n e d to w r i t e a d e s c r i p t i o n which a t t r i b u t e s to t h a t o c c a s i o n or t h a t sequence of events the s t a t u s of 'what a c t u a l l y happened' as q u i t e o u t s i d e the l e a r n i n g of the sense t h a t was made. The a c t i v e p a r t you p l a y e d i n c o n s t i t u t i n g those events as what they were d i s a p p e a r s . . . To grasp what a c t u a l l y happened i n order to d e s c r i b e , you must p a r t i c i p a t e i n a c c o mplishing what a c t u a l l y happened, and a t the same time you must aim at a d e s c r i p t i o n which suspends your presence and the accomplishment which has been e s s e n t i a l to the e x i s t e n c e f o r you of what i s to be d e s c r i b e d . (Smith, 1976b:5-6,8) We see then, a problem which i s not t h a t d e s c r i p t i o n i s done p o o r l y or t h a t i t i s b i a s e d , d i s t o r t e d , i n t e r e s t e d , or e t c . We see t h a t there i s a problem w i t h d e s c r i p t i v e conventions which are normally p r a c t i c e d i n s o c i o l o g y and elsewhere t h a t f a c t u a l - 43 -accounts are produced. The methods t h a t are used are themselves the source of some of the problems we experience. What we need, a c c o r d i n g to Smith, i s a method of proceeding i n d e s c r i p t i o n which i d e n t i f i e s the work and s e t t i n g o f d e s c r i p t i o n as p a r t of the method. ...A way of proceeding which i n c o r p o r a t e s the p o s i t i o n o f the observer i n t o the work of o b s e r v a t i o n i n a syst e m a t i c way, not as a p a r t i c u l a r s u b j e c t i v i t y , but i n terms of seein g the method of d e s c r i p t i o n as c r e a t i n g a d e f i n i t e k i n d of r e l a t i o n s h i p between the s o c i o l o g i s t and the s e t t i n g she i s ob s e r v i n g , such t h a t a p a r t i c u l a r k i n d of language game becomes i n v o l v e d which i s then t r e a t e d as a f e a t u r e of what i s observed... (Smith, 1977:in c o n v e r s a t i o n ) What such a procedure would do i s begin to r e e s t a b l i s h d e s c r i p t i o n as an orga n i z e d s o c i a l r e l a t i o n . I t would i n s e r t the doing of the d e s c r i p t i o n back i n t o the account i t s e l f as the p r a c t i c e of t h a t r e l a t i o n . There i s an experience i n my f i e l d work which was very use-f u l i n beginning to see t h a t r e l a t i o n i n p r a c t i c e . A c t u a l l y i t was o n l y a p u z z l i n g experience t o me i n the f i e l d ; i t was not u n t i l I examined my f i e l d notes t h a t I was able t o make sense of i t . I t has to do wit h doing of d e s c r i p t i o n by informants. When I began to work wi t h the data from my f i e l d notes, I immediately saw t h a t a l o t of i t c o n s i s t e d of other people's t a l k , - 44 -i n one form or another: What people had s a i d to me i n the newsroom, i n i n t e r v i e w s , overheard t a l k , e t c . . . My f i r s t 'concern was how to t r e a t t h a t t a l k as data about the s e t t i n g . When I focussed c a r e f u l l y on the t a l k , I began to see t h a t there was more than one k i n d of t a l k ; t h a t people's t a l k was not always put tog e t h e r i n the same way. I began to r e f e r to the d i f f e r e n t modes as d i f f e r e n t "orders o f t a l k " . Two i n p a r t i c u l a r became my focus. The f i r s t o r d e r or mode of t a l k i s the manner i n which people i n the newsroom t a l k t o each other i n the course of t h e i r work. T h i s i s t a l k t h a t was o n l y a v a i l a b l e to me by over h e a r i n g and r e c o r d i n g i t , u s u a l l y along w i t h a few v i s u a l o b s e r v a t i o n s to pro v i d e a s e t t i n g f o r the t a l k . For example: The c i t y e d i t o r looks up from a copy of an e a r l y e d i t i o n which he i s re a d i n g and says to an a s s i s t a n t "I don't see a f o l l o w i n t h i s speech; i t ' s too vague. What do you t h i n k ? I guess we might c a l l the o l d peoples' a s s o c i a t i o n and see what they t h i n k . " ( F i e l d n o t e s of 17 March, pg. 5) A r e p o r t e r comes to the c i t y desk a s k i n g i f the e d i t o r has n o t i c e d the "threatened demonstration" coming up i n C h i l l i w a c k tomorrow. He says, "Do you t h i n k we co u l d have a photographer out there and get anything back i n time to p r i n t ? " The e d i t o r c o n s i d e r s , say yes, and makes a phone c a l l to l i n e up a photographer. ( F i e l d n o t e s of 7 March, pg. 6) The second mode of t a l k i s the one t h a t i s used by people i n the newsroom to t e l l an observer, such as myself, about the work t h a t they are doing. I t i s the k i n d of t a l k t h a t happens i n response to q u e s t i o n s , i n an i n t e r v i e w s i t u a t i o n , or might - 45 -be v o l u n t e e r e d as e x p l a n t i o n of some aspect of the work. I t i s t a l k t h a t i s s p e c i f i c a l l y designed to make sense of the work f o r o t h e r s . For example, the f o l l o w i n g statements were made to me: I t h i n k what 'spot news' i s , i s human i n t e r e s t -and t h a t i s a very t a t t e r e d / o l d phrase, but - a good s o r t o f human i n t e r e s t s t o r y , or a people s t o r y , t h a t other people l i k e t o read about and can r e l a t e w i t h . ( F i e l d n o t e s of 12 J u l y , pg. 9) News i s a l l t h i n g s to a l l people. What i n t e r e s t s you doesn't n e c e s s a r i l y i n t e r e s t someone e l s e . Quite a p a r t from the s p e c i a l t i e s i n the paper... there are people who l i k e the Sports pages, and people who l i k e the Finance pages and l i k e the f a m i l y pages, but i t s hard to zero i n on the news-paper and t e l l you what's news. I t ' s hard f o r me to answer t h a t . . . I t h i n k t h a t i n a n u t s h e l l , what we are t a l k i n g about when we t a l k about "what's news" [ i s ] 'what's news' to the g r e a t e s t number of people...You see, we're i n the f i e l d of t r y i n g to serve two hundred and f i f t y thousand s u b s c r i b e r s . . . ( F i e l d n o t e s of 12 J u l y , pg. 10-11) ...a r e a l l y good w e l l - t r a i n e d r e p o r t e r , one who i s keeping h i s eyes and ears open i s the one t h a t p i c k s out the best s t o r y . ( F i e l d n o t e s 12 J u l y , pg. 9) What i s i n t e r e s t i n g " a b o u t these two kinds of t a l k i s t h a t comparing them suggests t h a t how the t a l k was put t o g e t h e r was i n p a r t determined by the o c c a s i o n of t h a t t a l k , the k i n d of work i t was meant to do i n v a r i o u s s i t u a t i o n s . One might say, how the t a l k was put together was determined b y the r e l a t i o n the t a l k was performing. That i s , i n the working r e l a t i o n between people i n the newsroom, t a l k was o r g a n i z e d to exchange meaning between people whose terms of r e f e r e n c e were the same; - 46 -t h e i r t a l k depended f o r i t s sense on the working r e l a t i o n s of which they were a p a r t . In t h e i r r e l a t i o n to me as informants, however, people i n the newsroom o r g a n i z e d t a l k to perform a d e s c r i p t i v e r e l a t i o n ; to t e l l me about t h e i r work. T h i s k i n d of t a l k t r i e d t o "make sense" of the working r e l a t i o n s f o r someone l i k e myself who d i d n ' t a l r e a d y know t h e i r sense. I t was immediately c l e a r to mewhenl examined these kinds of t a l k on paper t h a t they were q u i t e d i f f e r e n t methods of making meaning wi t h words. I t was a l s o c l e a r a f t e r some r e f l e c t i o n t h a t the second k i n d of t a l k , the d e s c r i p t i v e t a l k was the k i n d t h a t we as s o c i o l o g i s t s were accustomed t o working w i t h , and was the k i n d t h a t we o r d i n a r i l y produced. What then became p r o b l e m a t i c f o r me was how to account f o r t h i s s t r i k i n g d i f f e r e n c e between the k i n d of t a l k t h a t took p l a c e the work s e t t i n g we observed, and the k i n d of t a l k t h a t we knew how to use to r e p r e s e n t t h a t s e t t i n g . How d i d we get from one to the other? When we c o n s i d e r t h i s problem i n the l i g h t of Smith's work, we see an i l l u s t r a t i o n of what W i t t g e n s t e i n was t a l k i n g about. We see t h a t we are o b s e r v i n g two d i s t i n c t language games. The use of language i n d i f f e r e n t s e t t i n g s and. f o r d i f f e r e n t purposes accounts f o r the d i f f e r e n c e s i n t a l k t h a t I experienced i n the newsroom. The experience begins to i l l u s t r a t e how the - 47 -o c c a s i o n of the account and the p a r t i e s to t h a t o c c a s i o n become i n c o r p o r a t e d i n t o a d e s c r i p t i v e account i n a s y s t e m a t i c way through the use of language. Thus we began to r e c o v e r one aspect of the s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s which are concealed i n the d e s c r i p t i o n . What we a l s o see i s t h a t i t i s fundamental to the p o s s i b i l i t y of a d e s c r i p t i v e account t h a t i t a r i s e s i n a s o c i a l r e l a t i o n . That i s , knowing i s n e c e s s a r i l y a r e l a t i o n between the knower and the o b j e c t of knowledge. Yet we depend upon and our conventions r e q u i r e a form of accounting which denies t h i s e s s e n t i a l l y s o c i a l b a s i s of knowing. We depend upon a method which r e p r e s e n t s o b j e c t s as e x i s t i n g independently of the p r a c t i c e s which b r i n g them i n t o being f o r us. I t i s the problem of the anomaly between how i t i s t h a t you must go about doing the work of o b s e r v a t i o n i n order to prepare an o b j e c t i v e s o c i o l o g i c a l or a n t h r o p o l o g i c a l account and how i t i s t h a t you can i n f a c t know what i s going on;,: f o r to know what i s going on s o c i o l o g i c a l l y i s a l s o to have become a p a r t i c i p a n t i n making i t s sense. For you must a l r e a d y be p a r t of i t i n some sense to know what i t i s and what i s happening. You must see i t from the i n s i d e . You must have an insider's understanding and an insider's understanding d i v o r c e s us f o r e v e r , from the form of knowledge which r e p r e s e n t s i t s o b j e c t as e x i s t i n g independently of the knower. (Smith, 1976:5) We f i n d o u r s e l v e s faced with the problem t h a t d e s c r i p t i v e accounts are by t h e i r very nature inadequate because they c o n c e a l p r e c i s e l y what needs to be made e x p l i c i t . That i s , they g l o s s over r a t h e r than making v i s i b l e the " p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t y of a c t u a l - 48 -l i v i n g i n d i v i d u a l s which both i s and produces the phenomenon with which the s o c i a l s c i e n t i s t i s concerned. (Smith, 1974a:7) Thus c o n v e n t i o n a l d e s c r i p t i o n s cannot perform f o r us the s o c i o l o g i c a l work which we r e q u i r e . We need an a l t e r n a t i v e method of accounting which e x p l i c a t e s r a t h e r than g l o s s e s the p r a c t i c e s i n which phenomena are c o n s t i t u t e d . We need a method of e x p l i c a t i o n . What would an e x p l i c a t i v e account look l i k e ? C l e a r l y i t would not look l i k e c o n v e n t i o n a l d e s c r i p t i o n . T h i s i s because the assumption t h a t the o b j e c t of d e s c r i p t i o n a r i s e s and i s known i n a s o c i a l r e l a t i o n , of which the work of o b s e r v a t i o n and d e s c r i p t i o n are a p a r t , n e c e s s a r i l y p r e c l u d e s the c o n v e n t i o n a l approach to d e s c r i p t i o n i n which the o b j e c t of d e s c r i p t i o n i s o b j e c t i f i e d and e x t e r n a l i z e d . The method of e x p l i c a t i o n on the other hand, begins w i t h the assumption t h a t the o b j e c t a r i s e s and i s known i n a s o c i a l r e l a t i o n to which the observer i s a p a r t y . I t se t s out to rec o v e r t h a t s t r u c t u r e , to f i n d t h e phenomenon as i t a r i s e s i n the p r a c t i c e of those r e l a t i o n s . And i t s g o a l i s to produce an account of the o b j e c t which i s o r g a n i z e d by t h a t s t r u c t u r e . Thus the method i s one which i n c o r p o r a t e s s y s t e m a t i c a l l y the p o s i t i o n of the observer i n the account of the phenomenon. - 49 -Therefore the work should be q u i t e d i f f e r e n t from c o n v e n t i o n a l d e s c r i p t i o n . Objects i n t h i s k i n d of account should r e f l e c t t h e i r s o c i a l l y accomplished c h a r a c t e r , and the reader should be l o c a t e d i n r e l a t i o n to the phenomenon i n such a way t h a t the method of assembling the phenomenon as what i t i s , i s p r e s e n t to her i n the r e a d i n g of the account. Thus an e x p l i c a t i v e account i s one which r e p l i c a t e s the o r i g i n a l phenomenon. I t i s an account which works i n the same way as -the phenomenon i n the o r i g i n a l s e t t i n g i n jwhich i t a r i s e s . T h i s does not mean an account which merely makes the argument that a given phenomenon a r i s e s as a s o c i a l r e l a t i o n , but an account which a l s o a c t u a l l y shows how t h a t i s done as a p r a c t i c e . - 50 -I I I . How the d e s c r i p t i v e use of terms i s dependent upon the  o r i g i n a l working s e t t i n g , and how t h a t dependence may  be u t i l i z e d to develop an a l t e r n a t i v e procedure f o r  doing accounts. The p o s s i b i l i t y of an e x p l i c a t i v e account i s d e r i v e d from the r e l a t i o n which Marx showed us between terms and the working p r a c t i c e s i n which they a r i s e . That i s , t h a t they are fund-amentally h i s t o r i c a l . Terms do not take t h e i r meaning from the d i s c o u r s e i n which they are used; they take t h e i r meaning from the s o c i a l process which they name and perform. There i s a s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n on which words depend. Smith puts i t t h i s way: ...we take f o r granted t h a t the phenomenon does not a r i s e independently of the words t h a t are p a r t of i t s performance, but t h a t i t s naming i s i n t e g r a l to the s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s i t c o n s t r u c t s , the s o c i a l p r a c t i c e s , o r d i n a r y r o u t i n e s . I t i s not t h a t there i s a term which names a phenomenon independently of i t , ...but t h a t the terms, the words used, are e s s e n t i a l l y p e r f o r m a t i v e ; t h a t i s , they are e s s e n t i a l l y p a r t of the a c t i v i t y which i s the s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s , they are p a r t of t h a t o r g a n i z a t i o n and not separate from i t . (Smith, 1977b) So we begin w i t h the understanding t h a t there i s a s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n which can be e x p l i c a t e d , and t h a t i t i s t h i s o r g a n i z e d p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t y which i s the s o c i a l process w i t h which the s o c i o l o g i s t i s concerned. I t i s an account which e x p l i c a t e s these o r g a n i z e d p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s t h a t Smith recommends as an a l t e r n a t i v e t o c o n v e n t i o n a l d e s c r i p t i o n . - 51 -The e x p l i c a t i v e method, then, begins with the n o t i o n t h a t there e x i s t s an i n t i m a t e l i n k between a d e s c r i p t i o n and the s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n of the s e t t i n g i t d e s c r i b e s . Though the d e s c r i p t i o n may not d i s p l a y t h a t s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n , i t does indeed depend upon i t . I t i s a knowledge of t h i s o r g a n i z a t i o n which makes p o s s i b l e the work of d e s c r i b i n g . I t i s t h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p which can be used to t r a c k back through d e s c r i p t i v e accounts to the s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n on which they depend. T h i s process of t r a c k i n g back becomes the i n v e s t i g a t i v e procedure. Smith says: How the d e s c r i b e r . . . d o e s her work i s c o n t r o l l e d by her knowledge of the s o c i a l l y o r g a n i z e d processes which the terms... serve to d e s c r i b e . T h i s knowledge enters i n t o the o r d e r i n g of the d e s c r i p t i o n , the way the d e s c r i p t i o n i s done; i t i s e s s e n t i a l to the sense t h a t i s made by the d e s c r i p t i o n . There i s no way i n which you can w r i t e a d e s c r i p t i o n of a par- 1 ticuiar- s e t t i n g without t h a t being i n c r u c i a l ways determined by the s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n of t h a t s e t t i n g , even though i t may not adequately d e s c r i b e i t . There i s a d e t e r m i n a t i o n of the d e s c r i p t i o n and the s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n of the s e t t i n g which i s an e s s e n t i a l r e l a t i o n . I t i s t h a t k i n d of r e l a t i o n t h a t we are h o p e f u l of e x p l o i t i n g ; t h a t there i s t h a t a c t u a l r e l a t i o n s h i p t h a t e x i s t s . (Smith, 1977b) I can i l l u s t r a t e t h i s e s s e n t i a l r e l a t i o n from my experience i n the newsroom. One of the aspects of news p r o d u c t i o n t h a t we were most i n t e r e s t e d i n l e a r n i n g about was the assignment p r o c e s s . In an attempt to focus on the p r a c t i c e s which c o n s t i t u t e a s s i g n -ments, I began to c o l l e c t i n my f i e l d n o t e s v a r i o u s uses of the word " a s s i g n " i n d i f f e r e n t c o n t e x t s : an assignment, to be - 52 -assigned, g e t t i n g an assignment, t o be on assignment, doing assignments, t y p i n g up assignments, l o o k i n g over assignments, e t c . I found myself l o o k i n g f o r a way to express what these v a r i o u s a c t i v i t i e s had i n common t h a t r e s u l t e d i n them a l l b e i n g named w i t h the same word. Much to my s u r p r i s e , I found t h a t assignments were not the same " t h i n g " on a l l o c c a s i o n s . So I t r i e d to f i g u r e out what they "were". I found i n my notes t h a t what t i e d a l l the v a r i o u s uses of the word " a s s i g n " together was some r e l a t i o n to the c i t y desk. I found o b s e r v a t i o n s i n my notes l i k e "The only way i n which they were changed to become assignments was t h a t they passed over the c i t y desk a g a i n . . . ."; "The s t u f f j u s t seemed to pass q u i e t l y over the desk and the meaning was understood as to what was to be done with i t . . . " ; or "Reporters run t h e i r i n f o r m a t i o n across the c i t y desk f o r p e r m i s s i o n to spend s h i f t time working on i t . The desk i s a c l e a r i n g house...". Out of these o b s e r v a t i o n s , I a r r i v e d a t the c o n c l u s i o n t h a t assignments c o u l d b e s t be understood as. " a u t h o r i z a t i o n s " . What Smith p o i n t s out about t h i s " c o n c l u s i o n " i s t h a t i t cr e a t e s an i d e o l o g i c a l d e s c r i p t i o n , by e l i m i n a t i n g p r e c i s e l y the a c t u a l s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s t h a t need to be d e s c r i b e d . However, the process i t s e l f of a r r i v i n g a t " a u t h o r i z a t i o n s " as a d e s c r i p t i v e d e v i c e i s very i l l u m i n a t i n g , s i n c e i t was on l y p o s s i b l e by v i r t u e - 53 of my knowledge of the a c t u a l work p r a c t i c e s i n the newsroom. Thus i t demonstrates how i t i s that a d e s c r i p t i o n depends f o r i t s sense on the s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n of the s e t t i n g i t d e s c r i b e s . I t i s the e s s e n t i a l r e l a t i o n t o which Smith r e f e r r e d . Smith says of t h a t p r o c e s s : What we had done was to go from t h i s c o l l e c t i o n of v a r i o u s uses t h a t we c o u l d f i n d i n a c t u a l working cont e x t s , to s e t up a d e s c r i p t i v e procedure which would al l o w us to t a l k as s o c i o l o g i s t s about a s s i g n -ments as an o r g a n i z a t i o n a l feature...which would have allowed us to d e s c r i b e how assignments were done, what assignments were, e t c . u s i n g t h a t k i n d of method...But you see t h a t i n t h a t process there i s a l r e a d y e x h i b i t e d a very important way i n which we depended on the o r i g i n a l i n b eing able to do t h a t . . . I f you go back through t h a t p r o c e s s , what you f i n d i s t h a t l i n k i s r e a l l y t h e r e . Though the s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n i s not d e s c r i b e d by the d e s c r i p t i o n [eg. assignments are a u t h o r i z a t i o n s ] , n e v e r t h e l e s s , the d e s c r i p t i o n depends n e c e s s a r i l y on i t . (Smith, 1977b) Smith sees t h a t t h i s e s s e n t i a l l i n k betweeen a d e s c r i p t i o n and the s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n of the s e t t i n g i t d e s c r i b e s i s a g e n e r a l f e a t u r e of how accounts are generated. I t i s the same method which the member or the observer uses to c o n s t i t u t e what i s happening t h a t she a l s o uses i n making the account; both are c o n s t r a i n e d by her knowledge of the same s o c i a l l y o r g a n i z e d p r a c t i c e s . " E s s e n t i a l l y t o s t a t e i t very simply, the n o t i o n i s t h a t i n order to be able to use c a t e g o r i e s i n what i s - 54 -r e c o g n i z e d as an i n t e l l i g i b l e f a s h i o n i n any given working context, you must a l r e a d y understand the s o c i a l processes which produce those r e l a t i o n s h i p s as o r d i n a r y p r a c t i c e s . The ways i n which people t a l k , and the kinds of terms they use, and the ways i n which they t a l k about t h i n g s make sense o n l y i n r e l a t i o n s h i p t o s o c i a l l y o r g a n i z e d p r a c t i c e s which produce the phenomena which can be named and are completed i n t h a t way. Therefore i m p l i c i t i n your dev e l o p i n g knowledge of how to t a l k p r o p e r l y about t h i n g s i s a s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n which i s not e x p l i c a t e d by the terms you use." (Smith, 1976a:l) What Smith i s h o p e f u l o f doing i s de v e l o p i n g i n s o c i o l o g y a s u b s t r u c t i n g procedure much l i k e the one used by Marx. I t would al l o w us to t r a c k back through the d e s c r i p t i v e terms and accounts which are o r d i n a r i l y a v a i l a b l e to us as a means to know our world, to the s o c i a l l y o r g a n i z e d p r a c t i c e s on which t h a t language depends. How we begin t h i s k i n d of work i s by t a k i n g the language s e r o u s l y . We take what i s o r d i n a r i l y a v a i l a b l e i n the t a l k as the p l a c e t o b e g i n . We then go i n search o f how i t i s t h a t t h i n g s are c o n s t r u c t e d so t h a t they can be spoken of i n t h a t way. That i s , we look f o r the s o c i a l l y o r g a n i z e d p r a c t i c e s w i t h i n which t h a t language i s i n t e l l i g i b l e . What we are l o o k i n g f o r i s not to be found i n the t a l k . . i t s e l f , but i s presupposed by the t a l k . The t a l k l o c a t e s f o r us the s o c i a l l y o r g a n i z e d p r a c t i c e s which need to be e x p l i c a t e d . What you do i s t r e a t h i s way of t a l k i n g about i t as one t h a t i s assuming a l l these kinds o f p r a c t i c a l t h i n g s , so t h a t what you do i s not t r e a t what he says as i n f o r m a t i o n , but as data. So t h a t you say then i n - 55 -so f a r as h i s t a l k i s b o g g l i n g , there are t h i n g s about how i t ' s put together t h a t make sense of the d e s c r i p t i o n t h a t he's making, and I don't know what they are. (Smith, 1976a:5) So we see t h a t t h i s approach p r e s c r i b e s the method of data c o l l e c t i o n one would use i n the f i e l d . That i s , i t becomes necessary t o take pains to r e c o r d e x a c t l y what people say, and to t r e a t i t as what needs to be pr o v i d e d f o r by a c t u a l p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s . I found t h a t i n my f i e l d work I d i d not ca t c h on very e a r l y . I had a n o t i o n t h a t I wanted to know more than the s u p e r f i c i a l e x p l a n a t i o n s , so I d i d t h i s u n f o r t u n a t e t h i n g of suspending a l l e x p l a n a t i o n s given me, suspending them th a t i s at one l e v e l , always l o o k i n g f o r more i n f o r m a t i o n to v e r i f y i t or at l e a s t understand how i t was t r u e . One of the r e s u l t s of t h i s suspension i s t h a t I d i d not take pains to r e c o r d e x a c t l y what people t o l d me, or how they t o l d me. I d i d not a t t e n d to the language i t s e l f s p e c i f i c a l l y enough, although I was a t t e n d i n g to what people s a i d as one of the ways I would f i n d out what I wanted to know. E v e n t u a l l y I began to see t h a t I should do e x a c t l y the o p p o s i t e , t o r e c o r e d every exact word th a t people used and how and when they used i t . I f i n a l l y began to understand how to use what they s a i d as data, r a t h e r than as e x p l a n a t i o n or i n f o r m a t i o n ; not to t r e a t what they s a i d as t e l l i n g me what I wanted to know, but to use what they t o l d me to f i n d out what I wanted to know. - 56 -When I s t a r t e d to att e n d to language i n the f i e l d i n t h i s way, I found t h a t i t a c t u a l l y transformed the s e t t i n g f o r me. I l e a r n e d to hear i n peoples' t a l k the o r g a n i z a t i o n t h a t they were 'performing' by the terms they used, how they were assembling the phenomenon as i t was f o r them, i n the way they t a l k e d about i t . I had a very c l e a r sense t h a t i t was the " r i g h t " method of proceeding, s i n c e I was suddenly able to move from s i t u a t i o n to s i t u a t i o n i n the newsroom, encountering a l l the uses of the term " a s s i g n " , and others t h a t had been t r o u b l e -some to me, and the v a r i o u s uses o f terms were no longer a problem. I was able to hear i n what people s a i d the o r g a n i z a t i o n which they depended upon f o r the sense of what they were s a y i n g . T h i s a b i l i t y to understand happened f o r me very q u i c k l y once I began to t h i n k about t h i n g s p r o p e r l y , because I had a l r e a d y been around the newsroom f o r some weeks doing f i e l d , work and was a l r e a d y p a r t l y f a m i l i a r w i t h many aspects of the o r g a n i z a t i o n of t h i n g s to which people were r e f e r r i n g . But I had not been able to make sense of t h i n g s people t o l d me or to f i n d the aspects of the o r g a n i z a t i o n as I understood them to be. Once I l e a r n e d to l i s t e n , i t was c l e a r t o me t h a t the reason I c o u l d n ' t make sense of the s e t t i n g b efore was because the way I was t h i n k i n g about i t was out of step w i t h how i t a c t u a l l y worked f o r those who d i d i t . O r i e n t i n g to peoples' t a l k i n a new way r e s o l v e d t h i s problem f o r me and completely r e o r g a n i z e d my method of work. - 57 -I began to see how to focus on the o r g a n i z a t i o n of a c t i v i t i e s which p r o v i d e d f o r the t a l k I heard i n the newsroom and the kin d s of o r d i n a r y statements t h a t were made about the work of v producing news. For example: "The c i t y desk r e g u l a t e s which l o c a l events r e p o r t e r s w i l l cover"; or "Much of the copy doesn't r e q u i r e any work"; or "Assignments are generated out of the booking f i l e " ; o r "She handles assignments t h a t go out to r e p o r t e r s s t a t i o n e d o u t s i d e the newsroom"; e t c . My task became the w r i t i n g of accounts which would show how those statements represented o r g a n i z e d p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s of people i n the newsroom. The f o l l o w i n g chapter begins t o demonstrate t h i s k i n d of work. - 58 -CHAPTER THREE TOWARD EXPLICATIVE ACCOUNTS In t h i s chapter I would l i k e to i l l u s t r a t e some aspects of working i n the way t h a t i s p r e s c r i b e d by the f o r e g o i n g d i s c u s s i o n . I w i l l i n t r o d u c e some examples of accounts which begin to have the c h a r a c t e r of an e x p l i c a t i o n o f s o c i a l l y o r g a n i z e d p r a c t i c e s , and I w i l l make some o b s e r v a t i o n s from my experience of t r y i n g to l e a r n to w r i t e i n t h i s way. When I began to t r y to w r i t e accounts of v a r i o u s aspects of news p r o d u c t i o n , I found t h a t I was i n a gre a t d e a l of d i f f i c u l t y . I found i t very t r i c k y to put on paper the o r g a n i z a t i o n t h a t I was l e a r n i n g to 'perform' i n the newsroom. When I t r i e d to w r i t e , I found myself t r e a t i n g my own knowledge of how to perform the s e t t i n g as a resource f o r my account r a t h e r than as the method of assembling the account. And so I found t h a t t h i n g s came out i n the same o b j e c t i f i e d mode t h a t I re c o g n i z e d as c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of c o n v e n t i o n a l d e s c r i p t i o n . My sentences seemed i n s p i t e of my best e f f o r t s , to gi v e t o the s u b j e c t matter the c h a r a c t e r of having an e x i s t e n c e independent of my knowledge of i t , and independent of anything t h a t was done to b r i n g i t i n t o being. So I ended up w i t h accounts of a s s i g n -ments f o r example, which s t i l l r e p r e s e n t e d them as o b j e c t s , even though I knew t h a t t h a t i s not how assignments 'were' i n the newsroom. - 59 -T h i s experience demonstrated f o r me how thoroughly entrenched we are i n an o b j e c t i f i e d mode of knowing the world. In order to do an account which does not have t h i s c h a r a c t e r of an o b j e c t i v e l y accomplished world, we need a way of p u t t i n g words together which r e s t o r e s to s o c i a l phenomena t h e i r sense as a p r a c t i c a l accomplish^-ment of r e a l people. I began to see t h a t i t i s necessary to organize an account which a c t u a l l y b l o c k s us from e n t e r i n g i n t o t h a t f a m i l i a r , o b j e c t i f i e d r e l a t i o n to the s u b j e c t of the account. We need to use language i n a way t h a t o n l y makes sense when we enter i t from w i t h i n the o r g a n i z a t i o n of s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s i n which the phenomenon does a r i s e f o r us. We have c a l l e d such an account an e x p l i c a t i o n , to d i s t i n g u i s h i t from c o n v e n t i o n a l d e s c r i p t i o n . Such an account must a t each step address the problem of how i t i s t h a t s o c i a l phenomena are there to be observed. That i s , i t must take as i t s p r o b l e m a t i c , what i s a l r e a d y given i n d e s c r i p t i o n , t h a t the phenomenon i s t h e r e to be d e s c r i b e d . The account must make v i s i b l e , and r e q u i r e the reader to p a r t i c i p a t e i n , the work of assembling the phenomenon, p u t t i n g i t together as what i t i s , r a t h e r than p r e s e n t i n g an o b j e c t which i s a l r e a d y assembled somehow p r i o r to the account. I t h i n k i t w i l l be u s e f u l to look a t examples of the two d i f f e r e n t kinds of accounts. The two examples which f o l l o w are - 60 -both on the t o p i c of sources of news. The f i r s t account i s a r e l a t i v e l y c o n v e n t i o n a l type o f d e s c r i p t i o n , which as the f l a t c h a r a c t e r of a world which i s o b j e c t i v e l y t h e r e . The second account i s an attempt t o l e a r n to do i t the other way; to c o n s t r u c t an account which e x p l i c a t e s the o r g a n i z a t i o n of s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s i n which the phenomena a r i s e f o r us. This d i s c u s s i o n o f sources of news i s only a sample of the k i n d of work t h a t needs to be done. I t i s very d e t a i l e d , and i n some ways, t e c h n i c a l . F o l l o w i n g t h i s t e c h n i c a l example, I w i l l go on to d i s c u s s how i t i s p a r t of an enquiry on a l a r g e r s c a l e i n t o the s o c i a l c o n s t r u c t i o n of news. The f i r s t example below i s very b r i e f , and so i s the d i s c u s s i o n which f o l l o w s i t . I t i s intended o n l y to i l l u s t r a t e a d e s c r i p t i v e s t y l e of work, and to pro v i d e the p o i n t of departure f o r the account which f o l l o w s i t . DESCRIBING SOURCES OF NEWS: AN ILLUSTRATION There are a number of r o u t i n e sources of l o c a l news f o r the newspaper. Probably the most abundant source i s the newspaper i t s e l f . That i s , news s t o r i e s from pr e v i o u s papers p r o v i d e a constant source of i n f o r m a t i o n about newsworthy developments. Another i s r a d i o news; i n Vancouver, a l l CKNW news broadcasts are monitored by the newspaper to ca t c h the l a t e s t developments and any items the newspaper might have missed. Another source i s p o l i c e r a d i o which i s l i s t e n e d to i n the newsroom to give the paper e a r l y access to newsworthy occurances. Press r e l e a s e s are another source of i n f o r m a t i o n from a wide v a r i e t y of bu s i n e s s e s , community o r g a n i z a t i o n s , and l e v e l s o f government. Then th e r e are a gr e a t number of phone c a l l s which are r e f e r r e d to as phone t i p s . - 61 -A phone t i p i s a c a l l which giv e s the newspaper some p i e c e of i n f o r m a t i o n t h a t may be used i n the making of a news s t o r y . The i n f o r m a t i o n must be of p u b l i c concern. For example, a c a l l from an alderman about a p u b l i c meeting being announced would be a t i p . So would a b u s i n e s s -man c a l l i n g to say t h a t the bank next door t o h i s shop was being robbed. However, a c a l l from a pensioner s a y i n g t h a t h i s check was two days l a t e would not be c o n s i d e r e d a s u i t a b l e matter, or someone c a l l i n g t o say t h a t her neighbour was b e a t i n g h i s w i f e . The most i n t e r e s t i n g f e a t u r e o f t h i s type of account, i s t h a t i t i s b a s i c a l l y c o r r e c t . What i t does give by way o f i n f o r m a t i o n about sources of news i s a c c u r a t e . Because i t i s i n f o r m a t i o n a l , and because i t does t e l l us what we expect t o hear, i t f e e l s q u i t e a c c e p t a b l e as an account of sources o f news. The problem l i e s i n what i t doesn't t e l l us and never w i l l . I t i s put together i n a way t h a t excludes c o n s i d e r a t i o n of how t h i n g s a r i s e , how they get done, how they work, how they are known; and i t does not even d i r e c t us to the q u e s t i o n s . I t t e l l s us about sources of news i n a way t h a t adds l i t t l e to our understanding of them. For example, how do pre v i o u s papers come to have some e f f e c t on f u t u r e news s t o r i e s ? How i s t h a t done as a p r a c t i c a l matter? What does i t mean to monitor a r a d i o broadcast? How does r a d i o news have items t h a t the newspaper doesn't known about? How does the newspaper use p o l i c e r a d i o ? Does a r e p o r t e r w r i t e news r e p o r t s from what she hears on the r a d i o ? Are press r e l e a s e s used as news s t o r i e s ? Do r e p o r t e r s w r i t e s t o r i e s from phone t i p s ? e t c . - 62 -The problem w i t h the account of sources i s not t h a t i t i s l a c k i n g i n these d e t a i l s . Rather i t i d e n t i f i e s sources of news i n a way which d i s r e g a r d s the problem of how they are brought about i n p r a c t i c e . A phone t i p , f o r example, i s d e s c r i b e d as a c a l l t h a t has c e r t a i n f e a t u r e s . I t s c h a r a c t e r as a " t i p " i s a t t r i b u t e d to the c a l l i t s e l f , r a t h e r than to the r e l a t i o n between the c a l l e r and newspaper i n which i t s c h a r a c t e r as a t i p i s c o n s t i t u t e d . The second account of sources of news which f o l l o w s i s l e n g t h i e r and more d e t a i l e d , but t h a t i s not my concern. I am concerned with the procedure t h a t i t uses to make something known. I t i s an attempt t o produce an e x p l i c a t i o n r a t h e r than a d e s c r i p t i o n . I t w i l l be c l e a r t h a t i t i s a p i e c e of work i n progress; i t i n c l u d e s remarks on the procedure i t s e l f and o b s e r v a t i o n s on d e t a i l s of data t h a t need to be added to the account. I f e e l t h a t i t i s not a bad t h i n g f o r accounts to have t h i s c h a r a c t e r o f being under c o n s t r u c t i o n given t h a t the doing of the account needs t o be made v i s i b l e as p a r t of the s o c i a l c o n s t r u c t i o n of the o b j e c t . SOURCES OF NEWS: DOING AN EXPLICATIVE ACCOUNT The n o t i o n of "sources of news" i s commonly used i n t a l k about the p r o d u c t i o n of news to d e s c r i b e the means by which news events become known t o the newspaper. Accepted i n a common sense manner, the term c a r r i e s a c o n n o t a t i o n of news s p r i n g i n g up from the s o c i a l world l i k e water from a w e l l , at the door of the newspaper o f f i c e . - 63 -Used i n t h i s common sense way, "source" i s p a r t of a way of t a l k i n g about news which g l o s s e s over the phenomena i t i s used to d e s c r i b e . I t obscures, r a t h e r than making v i s i b l e , those processes by which the newspaper a c q u i r e s i n f o r m a t i o n . That i s , i t obscures how the n o t i o n of "source" i s a d e s c r i p t i o n of p a r t of the process of news p r o d u c t i o n . When we i n v e s t i g a t e the processes which "source" i s used to d e s c r i b e , we f i n d a number of observable a c t i v i t i e s which are the a c t i v e work of c o n s t i t u t i n g c e r t a i n persons and p l a c e s i n the s o c i a l world as resources f o r m a t e r i a l used i n the p r o d u c t i o n of news. A source of news i s found to emerge as the product of a b u r e a u c r a t i c s t y l e of work which o r g a n i z e s those l o c a t i o n s as r o u t i n e p r o v i d e r s o f the m a t e r i a l which i s u t i l i z e d i n the pr o d u c t i o n o f news. Thus a source i s not'something which v o l u n t e e r s from the s o c i a l world, but i s produced i n the work of news p r o d u c t i o n . So t h a t we a r r i v e a t an understanding t h a t a "news source" i s not any k i n d of n a t u r a l o b j e c t t h a t can be found by l o o k i n g f o r something t h a t conforms to t h a t d e s c r i p t i o n . I t a r i s e s o n l y as a product of the or g a n i z e d s o c i a l p r a c t i c e s by which the newspaper a c q u i r e s wh'at i s t r e a t e d as i n f o r m a t i o n f o r the purposes of making news. A source has no oth e r e x i s t e n c e than i n the org a n i z e d s o c i a l p r a c t i c e s which b r i n g i t i n t o being. I t i s what would be c a l l e d a s o c i a l l y o r g a n i z e d phenomenon. - 64 -So we need a method of d e s c r i b i n g "news sources" which r e t a i n s the c h a r a c t e r of the phenomena themselves. We need to be able to do an account of sources which r e p r e s e n t s them not as o b j e c t i f i e d , n a t u r a l phenomena, but as s o c i a l o b j e c t s which a r i s e out of the work p r a c t i c e s they d e s c r i b e . In o t h e r words, we need to d e s c r i b e what a source i s i n terms of the work p r a c t i c e s by which i n f o r m a t i o n i s gathered f o r the purposes of producing news. When we i n v e s t i g a t e these work p r a c t i c e s , we f i n d a number of r o u t i n e procedures which scan, l i s t e n f o r , attend t o , r e c o v e r , i n v a r i o u s ways, f e a t u r e s of the s o c i a l world which are t r e a t a b l e by those methods which produce news s t o r i e s . These work p r a c t i c e s o r g a n i z e a r e l a t i o n between the newspaper and the community which i s sometimes d e s c r i b e d as "monitoring", or a k i n d of a c t i v e l i s t e n i n g . These m o n i t o r i n g p r a c t i c e s are p a r t of the method by which the c o r p o r a t i o n o r g a n i z e s i t s e n t e r p r i s e . The m a t e r i a l which i s produced i n t h i s way i s a dependable f e a t u r e of the news p r o d u c t i o n p r o c e s s . In t h i s sense the monitoring p r a c t i c e s can be t r e a t e d much l i k e the w e l l which dependably p r o v i d e s water. The m o n i t o r i n g p r a c t i c e s p r o v i d e a dependable source of news m a t e r i a l . There are q u i t e a number of p r a c t i c e s t h a t need to be i n v e s t i g a t e d i n d e t a i l i n o r d e r t o d e s c r i b e the v a r i o u s "sources" i n terms of the work out of which they a r i s e . For example, one - 65 -would have to i n v e s t i g a t e the a c t i v i t i e s of c l i p p i n g previous papers to d i s p l a y how i t i s t h a t the newspaper i t s e l f becomes a source of subsequent news s t o r i e s . One would have to c a r e f u l l y d e t a i l the work of m o n i t o r i n g r a d i o news i n order to show how the r a d i o becomes a source of news f o r the newspaper, and s i m i l a r l y the work of m o n i t o r i n g p o l i c e r a d i o to show how t h a t i s u t i l i z e d . One would have to look a t the a c t i v i t y surrounding press r e l e a s e s to show how they are a dependable source of news. One would need to look a t the w r i t i n g of memos as the procedure by which the knowledge t h a t r e p o r t e r s a c q u i r e becomes a source of news m a t e r i a l . T h i s l i s t i s c e r t a i n l y not exhaustive. Here I w i l l d i s c u s s i n d e t a i l o n l y one of these p r a c t i c e s , the source of news which i s known as phone t i p s . T h i s d i s c u s s i o n w i l l serve p r i m a r i l y to demonstrate what an i n v e s t i g a t i o n and account of the k i n d we< are recommending would, look l i k e . I t w i l l be c l e a r from the d i s c u s s i o n o f phone t i p s t h a t t h i s work r e q u i r e s a h i g h l y d e t a i l e d l e v e l of data. I t i s a l e v e l of data t h a t i s demanding to r e c o r d i n the f i e l d , and i s not o f t e n c o l l e c t e d f o r ethnographies. Phone Ti p s One important aspect of the monitoring, procedure which accomplishes what i s c a l l e d "sources of news" i s the telephone. The newspaper, makes i t s e l f a v a i l a b l e day and n i g h t to r e c e i v e telephone c a l l s which may serve the purpose of p r o v i d i n g what -'-See E r r i n g t o n (1973) f o r an i l l u s t r a t i o n of the k i n d of data t h a t i s r e q u i r e d . - 66 -can be t r e a t e d as i n f o r m a t i o n to be used i n the p r o d u c t i o n of news. We can look i n some d e t a i l at how t h i s i s done. The l o c a t i o n i n the newspaper o r g a n i z a t i o n where people are prepared to r e c e i v e such c a l l s i s the r e w r i t e desk i n the newsroom. However, not a l l c a l l s t h a t come i n t o t h i s desk w i l l be c o n s i d e r e d "phone . t i p s " . I t i s i n the procedures used to handle i n d i v i d u a l c a l l s t h a t they become d i f f e r e n t i a t e d and c o n s t i t u t e d as v a r i o u s d i f f e r e n t kinds of c a l l s . I t i s the procedure which c o n s t i t u t e s , c e r t a i n of those c a l l s as "phone t i p s " t h a t we s h a l l examine i n d e t a i l . C o n s t i t u t i n g a phone t i p i s a procedure which t r e a t s some c a l l s as p r o v i d i n g i n f o r m a t i o n which can be u t i l i z e d i n the p r o d u c t i o n of news s t o r i e s ; t r e a t i n g a phone c a l l as a source of i n f o r m a t i o n f o r the purposes of making news. T h i s i s done by h a n d l i n g the c a l l w i t h a p r e l i m i n a r y procedure which serves to i n t e g r a t e i t i n t o the stream of the news-making process. T h i s p r e l i m i n a r y p r o c e s s i n g i s a c t u a l l y a v a i l a b l e to o b s e r v a t i o n i n the work r o u t i n e s of the persons who r e c e i v e c a l l s / The' procedure goes something l i k e t h i s : The phone r i n g s . A person a t the r e w r i t e desk answers i t . She r e c o g n i z e s , by a process i n v o l v i n g the i d e n t i t y and i n t e n t i o n of the c a l l e r and the s u b j e c t matter of the c a l l t h a t the c a l l appears to her have the c h a r a c t e r of "being" a phone t i p . At f i r s t we c a l l e d t h i s a process of t y p i f i c a t i o n (Schutz). L a t e r - 67 -we began to see t h a t the work of r e c o g n i z i n g a c a l l as "being" a phone t i p c o u l d be f u l l y e x p l o r e d as a p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t y by use of data on p r e c i s e l y what the r e w r i t e person says, asks, w r i t e s down, attends to i n the course of the phone c a l l . Roughly t h i s i s the work which determines whether the c a l l e r seems to have some i n f o r m a t i o n which she wants ot h e r s to know; whether t h a t i n f o r m a t i o n i s of p u b l i c i n t e r e s t , whether the c a l l e r can be c o n s i d e r e d a u t h o r i t a t i v e , or perhaps " j u s t a crank"; whether there i s f u r t h e r i n f o r m a t i o n a v a i l a b l e , e t c . The d e t a i l s of t h i s d e t e r m i n a t i o n , as a procedure which can be l e a r n e d , need to be f i l l e d out. My data on t h i s procedure i s a t the moment incomplete. Having used a procedure which g i v e s d e t e r m i n a t i o n to the c a l l as a phone t i p , the r e w r i t e person then f o l l o w s a s e t of procedures t h a t c o n s t i t u t e s the c a l l as a t i p . She p i c k s up a b o o k l e t c o n s i s t i n g of f o u r p i e c e s of rough paper with carbon from the desk beside the phone, puts i t i n t o the t y p e w r i t e r , and types as she l i s t e n s , asks q u e s t i o n s , e t c . She records i n t h i s manner the names, dates, p l a c e s , times, e t c . known as the " d e t a i l s " u n t i l she has what i s known as " a l l the i n f o r m a t i o n " . The work of i d e n t i f y i n g " d e t a i l s " and " a l l the i n f o r m a t i o n " a l s o has the appearance of a process of t y p i f i c a t i o n , i n as much as the r e w r i t e person experiences v a r i o u s aspects of the c a l l as having t h a t c h a r a c t e r . But t h i s work a l s o can be examined as a s e t of p r a c t i c e s which can be found i n what the r e w r i t e - 68 -person attends to i n the course of the c o n v e r s a t i o n , e x a c t l y what she t y p i c a l l y w r i t e s down, e t c . Since t h i s work of c o n s t i t u t i n g a t i p i s or g a n i z e d by i t s intended use i n e n a b l i n g a r e p o r t e r to do i n v e s t i g a t i v e work at a l a t e r time, doing " d e t a i l s " and " i n f o r m a t i o n " are procedures such as g e t t i n g the c o r r e c t nature of the i n f o r m a t i o n which the c a l l e r has to o f f e r , g e t t i n g the c o r r e c t date and time t h a t t h i n g s are happening, g e t t i n g c o r r e c t names and phone numbers of persons who can be contacted r e g a r d i n g the i n f o r m a t i o n , g e t t i n g the c o r r e c t name of the c a l l e r and time of the c a l l , e t c . Doing " d e t a i l s " and " i n f o r m a t i o n " are a l s o procedures f o r o r g a n i z i n g f e a t u r e s of i n f o r m a t i o n i n a way t h a t makes i t r e c o g n i z a b l e and usable i n the context of news. Again, the d e t a i l s of these p r a c t i c e s need to be made known. The document t h a t emerges i n q u a d r u p l i c a t e from t h i s process i s r e f e r r e d to i n the newsroom as a phone t i p . The r e w r i t e person puts one copy of i t on the s p i n d l e on her desk and three copies i n t o t h e r e c e i v i n g basket on the c i t y desk. In order to c a l l a t t e n t i o n to procedures used i n the news-room which are an e s s e n t i a l p a r t of how a phone t i p a r i s e s , I want to r e f e r to two common occ a s i o n s on which a c a l l e r has i n f o r m a t i o n to o f f e r but which are not t r e a t e d w i t h the procedure which c o n s t i t u t e s those c a l l s as phone t i p s . - 69 -One i s when a c a l l i s t r e a t e d as a " g r i p e " . That i s , o f t e n a person w i l l c a l l w i t h i n f o r m a t i o n on an annoying s i t u a t i o n , a g r i e v a n c e which he wants to have a i r e d . On some of these o c c a s i o n s the r e w r i t e person g i v e s the c a l l e r the phone number of the a p p r o p r i a t e agency and person who should be c o n t a c t e d f o r r e l i e f of the problem. T h i s i s s a i d t o be a s a t i s f a c t o r y response to many c a l l s . They are c a l l s which s t a r t out w i t h roughly the same c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s as those which become phone t i p s , but w i t h i n the p r a c t i c e s of answering phones at the r e w r i t e desk they are given d e t e r m i n a t i o n as " g r i p e s " . The c a l l w i l l be r e f e r r e d t o i n the newsroom as "being" a g r i p e . The other o c c a s i o n I want to r e f e r to i s when a r e p o r t e r "phones i n a s t o r y " . That i s , when a r e p o r t e r c a l l s to d i c t a t e over the phone a f i n i s h e d news s t o r y . T h i s example i s h e l p f u l because i t shows by c o n t r a s t t h a t the work of doing a phone t i p i s s t r u c t u r e d by the f a c t t h a t i n f o r m a t i o n on t h a t o c c a s i o n has not a l r e a d y been o r g a n i z e d i n t o the form i n which i t can be used as news. Phoning i n a s t o r y i s a common procedure f o r a r e p o r t e r who i s o u t s i d e the newsroom when d e a d l i n e time comes around. In t h i s s i t u a t i o n , she c a l l s i n t o the newsroom and d i c t a t e s the news s t o r y to someone at the r e w r i t e desk. The way i n which t h i s i s done i s f o r a r e w r i t e person to s e t a t the t y p e w r i t e r w i t h the - 7 0 -phone over one shoulder and type the s t o r y verbatim as the r e p o r t e r d i c t a t e s i t . On these occasions the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of the r e w r i t e person i n completing the work of phoning i n a s t o r y i s extremely r e s t r i c t e d . Roughly, her r e s p o n s i b i l i t y i s l i m i t e d to matters of s p e l l i n g , p u n c t u a t i o n , c a p i t a l i z a t i o n , e t c . What gets recorded i n terms of content i s wholly the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of the r e p o r t e r . The r e w r i t e person takes no r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r the a p p r o p r i a t e n e s s , accuracy, comleteness, e t c . , of the i n f o r m a t i o n she i s r e c o r d i n g . These are the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of the r e p o r t e r who composed the s t o r y , and whose name goes on the bottom of the document which i s typed i n t h i s way. The r e w r i t e person i s r e s p o n s i b l e f o r u s i n g the proper paper, the proper number of c o p i e s , f o r p u t t i n g the proper number of c o p i e s i n the r i g h t p l a c e s , and f o r i d e n t i f y i n g h i m s e l f or h e r s e l f as the person who took the d i c t a t i o n . On the o c c a s i o n of a phone t i p , on the other hand, the c a l l e r i s not a r e p o r t e r , and the i n f o r m a t i o n has not a l r e a d y been worked up i n any way to make i t warrantable f o r use i n the news making pro c e s s . Then the work of the r e w r i t e person i s o r g a n i z e d by a completely d i f f e r e n t r e l a t i o n s h i p to the c a l l e r and the i n f o r m a t i o n which the c a l l e r can p r o v i d e . A d i f f e r e n t s e t of procedures e n t i r e l y i s r e q u i r e d to give to the c a l l the o r g a n i z a t i o n which i d e n t i f i e s i t as a phone t i p . What i s v i s i b l e i n these accounts i s t h a t the c h a r a c t e r o f a phone c a l l as a " t i p " , a " g r i p e " or a " s t o r y " does not merely s p r i n g up from the nature of the c a l l s themselves. The a c t i v i t i e s - 71 -of the o c c a s i o n s are p a r t of the procedure f o r b r i n g i n g - t h e c a l l s i n t o being as what they are. For example, i n the case of a phone t i p , i t becomes c l e a r t h a t a phone t i p does not merely s p r i n g up as a source of news from some d i s p o s i t i o n i n the s o c i a l world to p r o v i d e the newspaper wi t h news. I t s c h a r a c t e r i s c l e a r l y an accomplishment of a number of o r g a n i z e d p r a c t i c e s which b r i n g a phone " c a l l i n t o t h a t r e l a t i o n to the work of producing news. A phone t i p a c q u i r e s the appearance of an o b j e c t i v e event, then, i n the t a l k which d e s c r i b e s these or g a n i z e d p r a c t i c e s . In f d e s c r i b i n g the c a l l i t s e l f as a phone t i p , we are u s i n g the r e f e r e n t i a l method to which Smith has c a l l e d our a t t e n t i o n . We r e p r e s e n t a phone t i p as e x i s t i n g on the other s i d e of i t s name l i k e an o b j e c t , r a t h e r than as a s o c i a l p r a c t i c e . In doing so we a t t r i b u t e a f e a t u r e of the method of d e s c r i b i n g the a c t i v i t i e s , to the c a l l i t s e l f as i t s c h a r a c t e r . In the accounts of t h e i r work t h a t people i n the newsroom d i d as our informants, and i n ' t h e accounts of news work t h a t have been w r i t t e n by j o u r n a l i s t s and s o c i o l o g i s t s , the o r g a n i z e d p r a c t i c a l aspects of the work have become o b j e c t i f i e d . We have come to understand aspects of the o r g a n i z a t i o n of the work of news p r o d u c t i o n as f e a t u r e s of the s o c i a l world. Thus what i s or i s not a phone t i p i s t r e a t e d as a matter of the f e a t u r e s of the c a l l i t s e l f . A c a l l from an alderman to announce a p u b l i c meeting comes to be seen i t s e l f as "a t i p " . What t h i s does i s render i n v i s i b l e a l l the " a c t u a l a c t i v i t i e s of r e a l people" i n which t h a t c h a r a c t e r a r i s e s . TOWARD OTHER EXPLICATIVE ACCOUNTS This d i s c u s s i o n of phone t i p s should be t r e a t e d as an i n d i c a t i o n of how i t i s p o s s i b l e to work. I t i s an attempt to develop a way o f o r g a n i z i n g an account which e x p l i c a t e s the s o c i a l l y o r g a n i z e d c h a r a c t e r of phenomena. S i m i l a r work can be done wi t h other aspects of the p r o d u c t i o n of news. When we look a t the v a r i o u s terms which are a p a r t of news work — news, assignments, s t o r i e s , events, developments, l o c a l — we f i n d t h a t the terms a r i s e i n the work of producing news and name aspects of the p r a c t i c a l o r g a n i z a t i o n of t h a t work. They name or g a n i z e d r e l a t i o n s between people, and they have no other e x i s t e n c e than i n the p r a c t i c e of those r e l a t i o n s . Though we come to see them as d i s c r e t e events, as o b j e c t s or o c c a s i o n s which can be found l i k e mushrooms, we d i s c o v e r upon c l o s e r examination t h a t they cannot be found l i k e mushrooms, but r a t h e r l i k e phone t i p s . That i s , they can be found o n l y by l e a r n i n g the procedures f o r c o n s t i t u t i n g them; only by l e a r n i n g to assemble them as what they are i n the s o c i a l l y o r g a n i z e d p r a c t i c e i n which they a r i s e . T h i s method of work can be used to e x p l i c a t e not only t e c h n i c a l work r o u t i n e s , but a l s o more g e n e r a l f e a t u r e s of news which o r i g i n a t e as a s o c i a l l y o r g a n i z e d p r a c t i c e . - 73 -For example, c o n s i d e r the problem of understanding what news i t s e l f i s . A l o t o f i n t e r e s t i n news has been o r g a n i z e d around the problem of t r y i n g to d e f i n e i t . What i s or i s not news i s commonly t r e a t e d as determined by f e a t u r e s of the happening. "News i s the unexpected"; or "News i s a l l t h i n g s to a l l people, human i n t e r e s t " ; l i s t s of c r i t e r i a are lengthy. These and other common statements depend upon the assumption t h a t news has some k i n d of o b j e c t i v e c h a r a c t e r ; t h a t news has an independent e x i s t e n c e as a phenomenon or as an observ-able q u a l i t y of c e r t a i n phenomena. We t h i n k of news as something t h a t i s found by l o o k i n g f o r i t : j o u r n a l i s t s "gather" i t , "cover" i t , "catch" i t and "rec o g n i z e " i t . That news e x i s t s f o r us as an o r d i n a r y p a r t of the world we i n h a b i t i s i n d i s p u t a b l e ; we can go out and buy a paper which w i l l t e l l us the news. There i s a problem, however, i n t h i n k i n g about news i n t h i s o b j e c t i f i e d way, as i f i t "happened without an author". (Smith, 1974a:28) What i s l e f t out of t h i s understanding i s , again, the " a c t u a l a c t i v i t i e s of r e a l people" which b r i n g to a happening i t s c h a r a c t e r as an item of news. The c h a r a c t e r of events as news i s determined i n a process which i s fundamentally s o c i a l . I t s news-ness i s carved out of the ongoing s o c i a l process by the r o u t i n e a c t i v i t i e s of r e p o r t e r s i n the course of doing t h e i r work. The dete r m i n a t i o n of happenings as news i s to be found i n t h i s work, not i n the f e a t u r e s of the happening i t s e l f . The phenomenon which we know - 74 -as "news" i s thus a s o c i a l c o n s t r u c t i o n . How t h a t c o n s t r u c t i o n i s done as a p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t y becomes the t o p i c of the k i n d of enquiry which i s suggested here. I t i s not my i n t e n t i o n to t r y to develop an e x p l i c a t i v e account of news i n t h i s paper. That i s r a t h e r the task of many papers, and the goal of our ongoing i n t e r e s t i n news. Here I w i l l do no more than begin to i n d i c a t e how such an enquiry would procede. The p l a c e to begin the e x p l o r a t i o n of how news comes i n t o b e ing, f o l l o w i n g the procedure o u t l i n e d i n t h i s paper, i s w i t h the t a l k of news people themselves. J o u r n a l i s t s o f t e n use the phrase "news sense", or others l i k e i t , t o i d e n t i f y how they f i n d news and reco g n i z e i t . F o c u s s i n g on t h i s i l l u s i v e "sense" i s very worthwhile. I t i s not u s e f u l because i t t e l l s us how news i s produced; q u i t e the c o n t r a r y . As an e x p l a n a t i o n o f of how j o u r n a l i s t s work, the concept of news sense wholly obscures the work i t pur p o r t s to e x p l a i n . I t renders what r e p o r t e r s a c t u a l l y do, completely i n a c c e s s i b l e . Rather, the n o t i o n of news sense becomes u s e f u l o n l y when we take i t as a p r o b l e m a t i c , as a t o p i c f o r i n v e s t i g a t i o n . We need to ask how t h i s "sense" operates as a p r a c t i c e . The task i s to e x p l i c a t e some of the ways t h a t what i s c a l l e d "news sense" i s a c t u a l l y o r g a n i z e d i n t o Lthe work of news p r o d u c t i o n through p r a c t i c e s t h a t are a v a i l a b l e to o b s e r v a t i o n and d e s c r i p t i o n . That i s , to b r i n g them out of peoples' heads and i n t o the work s e t t i n g where the s u c c e s s f u l p r a c t i c e of t h i s s o - c a l l e d "sense" i s a dependable f e a t u r e of the co r p o r a t e - 75 -e n t e r p r i s e . The newspaper as a business e n t e r p r i s e s u r v i v e s because t h i s s u c c e s s f u l p r a c t i c e i s o r g a n i z e d i n t o the work of news p r o d u c t i o n . The c o r p o r a t i o n does not r e l y on a l l e l l u s i v e t a l e n t of a g i f t e d few; i t r e l i e s on a b u r e a u r c r a t i c o r g a n i z a t i o n of work which dependably produces the commodity "news" i n dependable q u a n t i t i e s , a t dependable times. Working i n t h i s way i t would become p o s s i b l e to see how the c h a r a c t e r of events as news a r i s e s i n the a c t u a l work p r a c t i c e s of the people who do the•work of producing i t . News can be found as the product of l o c a t a b l e , observable, d e s c r i b a b l e p r a c t i c e s . I t i s not an e l l u s i v e phenomenon which a r i s e s independently; i t i s not a c o n t i n u a l d i s c o v e r y of a g i f t of the senses. News i s r a t h e r a product of the o r g a n i z e d p r a c t i c e s which b r i n g i t i n t o being. In t h i s way i t would be p o s s i b l e to show the o r g a n i z e d p r a c t i c e s of news p r o d u c t i o n which g i v e d e t e r m i n a t i o n to news. We can take what Smith has s a i d about d e s c r i p t i o n s and apply i t d i r e c t l y to news as a very a p p r o p r i a t e example of what she i s t a l k i n g about: The d e s c r i p t i o n must be seen as a s p e c i a l k i n d of e n t e r p r i s e which i s p a r t of a l a r g e r o r g a n i z a t i o n . ...We make them f o r p r a c t i c a l purposes and use methods which p r o v i d e f o r how they meet the requirements of those purposes... Thus we can look a t the ways i n which the c h a r a c t e r of a f a c t u a l account i s shaped by the e n t e r p r i s e of which i t i s a p a r t . (Smith, 1976b:2) - 76 -CHAPTER FOUR CONCLUSION Two accounts of "Sources of News" were presented i n the p r e v i o u s chapter. The f i r s t i l l u s t r a t e s a c o n v e n t i o n a l form of d e s c r i p t i o n ; the second i s an attempt to b e g i n to develop an account which has the c h a r a c t e r of an e x p l i c a t i o n and p r o v i d e s an a l t e r n a t i v e to c o n v e n t i o n a l d e s c r i p t i o n . Here we w i l l review the methods by which the two accounts proceed, and c o n s i d e r the i m p l i c a t i o n s of the e x p l i c a t i v e method. I t would be h e l p f u l to begin by reviewing b r i e f l y the f e a t u r e s of the d e s c r i p t i v e method t h a t have been d i s c u s s e d i n t h i s paper. They are: 1) t h a t the d e s c r i p t i v e method r e f e r e n c e s the world, t h a t i s i t presumes t h a t there i s an a c t u a l i t y on the other s i d e of the account; 2) t h a t i n r e f e r e n c i n g the world there i s what has been c a l l e d a process o f t r a n s f e r e n c e , i n which an o b j e c t i v e c h a r a c t e r i s attached to the phenomenon as i t s own c h a r a c t e r , and which obscures the p r a c t i c e s which b r i n g the phenomenon i n t o being; and 3) t h a t the phenomenon i s represented as e x i s t i n g e x t e r n a l l y to the s o c i a l r e l a t i o n i n which i t i s c o n s t i t u t e d as known. - 77 -Both accounts, I would suggest, proceed by r e f e r e n c i n g the world. They both presume t h a t there i s an a c t u a l i t y beyond the account: woman, phone, t y p e w r i t e r , e t c . T h i s i s p a r t of what c o n s t i t u t e s them as f a c t u a l accounts, as was d i s c u s s e d . However, I would argue t h a t w h i l e the f i r s t account does e x h i b i t the remaining two c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the c o n v e n t i o n a l d e s c r i p t i v e method, the second account does not. The f i r s t account of sources of news re p r e s e n t s a phone t i p as something which comes i n t o the newsroom over the telephone. In doing so, i t transforms what was o r i g i n a l l y a s e t of work r o u t i n e s i n t o an accomplished f a c t ; i t makes use of a knowledge of p r a c t i c a l r o u t i n e s as a b a s i s on which to summarize, or e x t r a p o l a t e to the product of those r o u t i n e s . Thus "...a phone t i p i s a c a l l which g i v e s the newspaper...", and "There are a number of r o u t i n e sources of l o c a l news...." In t h i s way the f i r s t account a l s o excludes the reader from the work of c o n s t i t u t i n g a phone t i p as the o b j e c t of her knowledge. I t "makes sense" of the s e t t i n g f o r the reader i n a way t h a t excludes her from i t . In the second account, on the other hand, the c h a r a c t e r of a phone t i p as a work process i s p r e s e r v e d i n the account. The account does not t r a n s f e r an o b j e c t i v e c h a r a c t e r to a phone t i p . I t i s a s e t of a c t i v i t i e s : p i c k up the phone, l i s t e n , t a l k , type, e t c . I t r e t a i n s i t s c h a r a c t e r as a s o c i a l accomplishment. Thus - 78 -the second account g i v e s the reader the knowledge of p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s on which the f i r s t account depends; t h a t i s , how i t comes about t h a t t h e r e "are" sources o f t h a t there " i s " a t i p . I t shows how these come about as the product of the a c t i v i t y of i n d i v i d u a l s . The second account a l s o does not c o n s t i t u t e what goes on i n the newsroom as e x t e r n a l to the r e l a t i o n of knowing. That i s , the reader must do the work of l e a r n i n g to perform the o r g a n i z a t i o n which makes a phone t i p v i s i b l e i n order to c o n s t i t u t e f o r h e r s e l f t h a t phenomenon as what i t i s . The second account o n l y becomes an account of phone t i p s by v i r t u e of the reader (or observer) l e a r n i n g t h a t these a c t i v i t i e s are the doing of phone t i p s . She must l e a r n to c o n s t i t u t e t h i s phenomenon as what i t i s i n her method of r e a d i n g the account, or i n her method of o b s e r v i n g the phenomenon. T h i s l o c a t e s the reader i n the s o c i a l r e l a t i o n t h a t i s being o r g a n i z e d by the account. When she f a i l s to l o c a t e h e r s e l f as p a r t of i t , the account d i s i n t e g r a t e s . A very u s e f u l i l l u s t r a t i o n o f t h i s p o i n t o c c u r r e d i n a colloquium"'"at which I presented t h i s account of phone t i p s as a source of news. The account drew c r i t i c i s m because i t appeared to leave out, or r e f u s e to acknowledge, f e a t u r e s of 'phone t i p s ' -'-Colloquium on D e s c r i p t i o n , Department of Anthropology and S o c i o l o g y , U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, May 1977. - 79 -and 'news' which seemed obvious to those p r e s e n t on t h i s o c c a s i o n . For i n s t a n c e , the account denied t h a t ' t i p s ' and 'non-tips' d i s t i n g u i s h e d themselves by the nature of the s u b j e c t matter, or t h a t some t o p i c s were i n h e r e n t l y 'newsworthy' while others were not. Those who o b j e c t e d to these aspects of the account d i d not see ' t i p - n e s s ' or 'news-ness' as something t h a t needed to be, or c o u l d be, assembled as a p r a c t i c a l matter. T h i s experience demonstrated f o r me a c r u c i a l a spect of the account. I t i s an account which i d e n t i f i e s a s e r i e s of a c t i v i t i e s i n t h e i r o r g a n i z a t i o n a l s e t t i n g s . In order to understand t h a t as an account of phone t i p s , the reader (or l i s t e n e r , or observer) i s r e q u i r e d to p a r t i c i p a t e i n the work of assembling these a c t i v i t i e s as the doing of phone t i p s . The problem i n the c o l l o q u i u m was t h a t people d i d not b r i n g t h a t method to the account. They brought to the account the method which a p p l i e s to c o n v e n t i o n a l d e s c r i p t i o n , i . e . e n t e r i n g the account o b j e c t i v e l y , (which i s , not to e n t e r i t a t a l l ) . They t r e a t e d i t as an account which would perform f o r them the work of assembling a phone t i p and then hand i t to them. My account d i d not do t h a t . At t h i s p o i n t , the d i s o r g a n i z a t i o n which r e s u l t e d from the method which they were u s i n g to understand the account was then a t t r i b u t e d to the account as i t s d i s o r g a n i z a t i o n , or i t s inadequacy i n r e p r e s e n t i n g phone t i p s . T h i s experience demonstrated t h a t the account does d i f f e r i n fundamental ways from a c o n v e n t i o n a l d e s c r i p t i o n . - 80 -I t i s hoped t h a t what has been l e a r n e d i n t h i s paper may be used as a b a s i s from which to continue the work of developing a method of accounting which e x p l i c a t e s , r a t h e r than g l o s s e s , the c h a r a c t e r of the s o c i a l p r o c e s s . The method which i s proposed here i s a beginn i n g . I t promises to produce an account of the o b j e c t of study which i s or g a n i z e d by and makes v i s i b l e the s o c i a l l y o r g a n i z e d p r a c t i c e s i n which the phenomenon comes i n t o being. I t l o c a t e s the observer and the reader i n such a way t h a t the method of assembling the phenomenon as what i t i s f o r them i s pr e s e n t i n the account as i t s method. Such an account i s t r u l y e x p l i c a t i v e ; t h a t i s , the account makes v i s i b l e the o r g a n i z a t i o n on which i t depends. I t r e p l i c a t e s t h a t o r g a n i z a t i o n , so t h a t the phenomenon i s c o n s t i t u t e d i n the account i n the same manner t h a t i t i s c o n s t i t u t e d i n the o r i g i n a l s e t t i n g i n which i t a r i s e s . T h i s suggests the p o s s i b i l i t y of s o c i o l o g i c a l accounts t h a t are grounded i n the a c t u a l i t y they d e s c r i b e i n a way t h a t i s q u i t e d i f f e r e n t from c o n v e n t i o n a l d e s c r i p t i o n s . (See Smith 1976b) Th i s p r o p o s a l f o r an e x p l i c a t i v e method g i v e s a c l e a r i n d i c a t i o n of r e s e a r c h procedures f o r t h i s k i n d of work. I t p r e s c r i b e s a method of o b s e r v a t i o n which s i n g l e s out language as the p l a c e to begin ones enquiry. I t p r o v i d e s i n s t r u c t i o n s on how to work wi t h the data p r o v i d e d i n language, u s i n g a - 81 -" s u b s t r u c t i n g " procedure which r e t u r n s terms to the working p r a c t i c e i n which they a r i s e . I t i d e n t i f i e s an extremely d e t a i l e d l e v e l of data which i s r e q u i r e d and begins to d e f i n e the type of w r i t t e n accounts t h a t must be produced i n order t o adequately d i s p l a y the phenomenon. Experience working i n t h i s way suggests t h a t the e x p l i c a t i v e procedure i s one t h a t can be used at any l e v e l of o r g a n i z a t i o n of phenomena. For example, the same procedure which allows us to c o n s i d e r how phone t i p s come i n t o being a l s o p r o v i d e s the method of understanding how e.g. news i t s e l f , o r the newspaper as a c o r p o r a t e e n t e r p r i s e , i s c o n s t i t u t e d . The f e a t u r e s of these phenomena may not be the same, but the method of e x p l i c a t i n g the s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n on which these terms depend i s very s i m i l a r i n each case. Thus i t i s not necessary to use a d i f f e r e n t procedure to i s o l a t e the p a r t i c u l a r o b j e c t of study from i t s o r g a n i z a t i o n a l context than the method used to examine the 'object' i t s e l f . I t i s p o s s i b l e to begin with any f e a t u r e of the o r g a n i z a t i o n and f i n d the ways i n which i t i s c o n s t i t u t e d i n r e l a t i o n to the r e s t of the e n t e r p r i s e i n the p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s t h a t are the performance of t h a t o r g a n i z a t i o n . For i n s t a n c e , another important aspect of news work which can be addressed by working i n t h i s way i s the problem o f b i a s and d i s t o r t i o n i n the news. The approach works q u i t e d i f f e r e n t l y - 82 -from c o n v e n t i o n a l concerns with " o b j e c t i v i t y " . I t permits us to see how the c o n s c i e n t i o u s p r a c t i c e of the o r d i n a r y , r o u t i n e procedures of news work l e g i s l a t e s a p a r t i c u l a r view of the world r a t h e r than an i m p a r t i a l , " o b j e c t i v e " view. A p a r t i c u l a r view i s i n t r o d u c e d through p r e c i s e l y the p r a c t i c e s of c o n s t i t u t i n g r o u t i n e f e a t u r e s of the o r g a n i z a t i o n of news work, such as 'phone t i p s ' , ' s t o r i e s ' , 'events', 'developments', e t c . , and through the p r a c t i c e s which c o n s t i t u t e such r o u t i n e c a t e g o r i e s as 'labour news' or 'women's pages'. A l l these are made v i s i b l e as p r a c t i c a l matters which mediate between what happens i n the world and what we read i n the newspaper. They are the p r a c t i c a l determinants of the view of the world we know as 'the news'. Paulson (1975) has done an i n t e r e s t i n g treatment of labour news from t h i s p e r s p e c t i v e . Her work demonstrates how 'labour news' takes on the c h a r a c t e r of 'management news' through the r o u t i n e procedures which are used to produce i t . Both i n i t s p r e s e n t a t i o n and the way i t i s d e f i n e d , labour i s t r e a t e d as i t becomes s i g n i f i c a n t to those groups managing and a d m i n i s t e r i n g i t i n t h i s context, i . e . b usiness owners and management groups, the c o u r t s , government agencies, o f f i c i a l s , e t c . . . T h i s s t r u c t u r i n g of the news r e s u l t s i n the e x c l u s i o n of c e r t a i n c a t e -g o r i e s of events and coverage of a l a r g e segment of the work f o r c e not i n c l u d e d i n the d e f i n i t i o n of labour as u n i o n i z e d labour, i . e . non-union n a t i v e and immigrant workers, p e n i t e n t i a r y workers, e t c . (Paulson, 1975:26-7) Paulson's work p r o v i d e s an i n d i c a t i o n of the k i n d of problem t h a t i t becomes p o s s i b l e to e x p l o r e w i t h the approach which i s - 8 3 -proposed i n t h i s paper. Thus the e x p l i c a t i v e method allows us to r e t u r n t o the problem with which we began. I t makes p o s s i b l e an examination of the p r a c t i c e s by which our knowledge of the world i s o r g a n i z e d . I t allows us to examine the p r o d u c t i o n of f a c t u a l knowledge as a p r a c t i c a l a c t i v i t y of r e a l i n d i v i d u a l s , and to examine the methods which are used t h a t g i v e d e t e r m i n a t i o n to what emerges as the product. I t i s not a problem only i n s o c i o l o g y , or i n the p r o d u c t i o n of news. I t i s a problem which stands i n between us and a l l the forms of f a c t u a l and documentary knowledge on which we depend to inform us and manage our l i v e s . A l l o f these forms of knowledge come about through p a r t i c u l a r p r a c t i c e s which o r g a n i z e the world so t h a t i t can be known i n a p a r t i c u l a r way. Thus they b u i l d i n , or i n s t i t u t i o n a l i z e , as Smith says, methods of examining, i n q u i r i n g i n t o , understanding, and - i n s h o r t - knowing the world which cannot do other than the work f o r which they were designed-namely t o put i t t o g e t h e r as an o b j e c t to be known from [ p a r t i c u l a r ] p o s i t i o n s . . . . (Smith, forthcoming:3) In t h i s paper we have begun to see how t h i s i s the case i n the work of s o c i o l o g y , and how t h i s process can be examined i n the p r o d u c t i o n of news. - 8 4 -BIBLIOGRAPHY C i c o u r e l , Aaron V. 19 68 The S o c i a l O r g a n i z a t i o n of J u v e n i l e J u s t i c e , New York: Wiley & Sons, Inc. Clement, Wallace 19 75 The Canadian Corporate E l i t e : An A n a l y s i s of Economic Power, Toronto: M c C l e l l a n d & Stewart. Darnton, Robert 1975 " W r i t i n g News and T e l l i n g S t o r i e s " , Daedalus, ( S p r i n g ) . E p s t e i n , E. J . 19 7 3 News from Nowhere: T e l e v i s i o n and the News, New York: Random House Inc. E r r i n g t o n , Barbara Gene 1973 " N e g o t i a t i n g the D e c i s i o n s : What i s a P o l i c e Matter", Unpublished Master's T h e s i s , Department of Anthropology and S o c i o l o g y , U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia. Fishman, Mark 1976 "Production of Media News: How Newsmen Create S o c i a l ( c i r c a ) F a c t s " , Unpublished d o c t o r a l d i s s e r t a t i o n , Department of S o c i o l o g y , U n i v e r s i t y of C a l i f o r n i a , Santa Barbara. G a r f i n k e l , H arold 1967 S t u d i e s i n Ethnomethodology, Englewood C l i f f s , N.J.: P r e n t i c e = H a l l Inc. H a l l o r a n , James D., P h i l l i p E l l i o t t , and Graham Murdoch 19 70 Demonstrations and Communication: A Case Study, Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books. Marx, K a r l 19 6 3 The Poverty of Philosophy, New York: I n t e r n a t i o n a l P u b l i s h e r s . n.d. C a p i t a l , Volume I, Moscow: Progress P u b l i s h e r s . Marx, K a r l , and F r e d e r i c k Engels 1970 The German Ideology, C.J. A r t h u r , ed., New York: I n t e r n a t i o n a l P u b l i s h e r s . Molotoch, Harvey, and M a r i l y n L e s t e r 1974 "News as P u r p o s e f u l Behaviour: Events, A c c i d e n t s and Scandals", American S o c i o l o g i c a l Review V o l . 39. - 85 -Paulson, Marilee Reimer 1975 "Ideological Practice i n Labour News Reporting", Unpublished Master's Thesis, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, University of B r i t i s h Columbia. Porter, John 1965 The V e r t i c a l Mosaic: An Analysis of Social Class and Power i n Canada, Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Report of the Special Senate Committee on Mass Media 1970 Ottawa: Queen's Printer. Schutz, A l f r e d 1970 On Phenomenology and Social Relations, Helmut R. Wagner (ed.), Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Smith, Dorothy E. 1974a "The Ideological Practice of Sociology", Catalyst, No. 8, (Winter). 1974b "The Social Construction of Documentary Reality", S o c i o l o g i c a l Inquiry, Vol. 44, No. 4. 1976a Transcripts of Working Sessions, February and May. 1976b "Notes on Description", Unpublished Ms., Department of Anthropology and Sociology, University of B r i t i s h Columbia. 1976c "On Mead and Marx", Lecture presented in Department of Sociology, University of Toronto. 1977a "On Descriptions" presented at a colloquium i n Department of Anthropology and Sociology, University of B r i t i s h Columbia. 1977b "On Description I I " presented by i n v i t a t i o n , Department of Sociology, University of C a l i f o r n i a , Santa Barbara. n.d. "Notes on Mead", Unpublished Ms, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, University of B r i t i s h Columbian. (In Press) "Some Implications of a Sociology for Women", accepted for publication by Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology. - 8 6 -Tuchman, Gaye 1972 " O b j e c t i v i t y as a S t r a t e g i c R i t u a l : An Examination of Newsmen's Notions of O b j e c t i v i t y " , American J o u r n a l of S o c i o l o g y , V o l . 77, (January). 1973 "Making News by Doing Work: R o u t i n i z i n g the Unexpected", American J o u r n a l of S o c i o l o g y , V o l . 78, ( J u l y ) . 1976 " T e l l i n g S t o r i e s " , J o u r n a l of Communication, V o l . 26:4 (Autumn). Turner, Roy (ed.) 1974 Ethnomethodology, Markham, O n t a r i o : Penguin Books Canada L t d . Webster, S y l v i a K. F. 1977 "Observing Occasions of C i t y H a l l Newsgathering", Unpublished Master's T h e s i s , Department of Anthropology and S o c i o l o g y , U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia. Wheeler, Stanton (ed.) 1969 On Records, F i l e s and D o s s i e r s i n American L i f e , New York: Russel Sage Foundation W i t t g e n s t e i n , Ludwig 1953 P h i l o s o p h i c a l I n v e s t i g a t i o n , New York: The MacMillan Company. Zimmerman, Don H. 1969 "Record-Keeping and the Intake Process i n a P u b l i c Welfare Agency", i n S. Wheeler (ed.) On Records, F i l e s ,  and D o s s i e r s i n American L i f e , New York: Russel Sage Foundation. 

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