UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Terms for Canadian doctors : language and sociology, ethnosemantics and ethnomethodology Eglin, Peter Anthony


In trying to discover the nature of cultural competence, ethno-semantics leaves out of account the judgemental or interpretive work of a society's members, and that neglect is fatal to its programme. This critical thesis is the nub of the dissertation. The latter is constructed as an argument, and is organized in two parts as follows. The first part is programmatic. After an introduction (Chapter One), three kinds of sociology are introduced and formally described (Chapter Two). Ethnosemantics and ethnomethodology are cast as "grammatical" and "interpretive" sociology respectively (Chapter Three). This enables us, in pursuing a methodological critique of ethnosemantics from a position based in ethnomethodology (Chapter Four), to draw conclusions about sociology (Chapter Five): insofar as "positivistic" sociology presupposes "grammatical" sociology which presupposes "interpretive" sociology, then (1) "positivistic" explanation is not, in principle, superior to commonsense explanation, (2) an adequate sociology needs be interpretive, and (3) ethnosemantics, in engaging in what ethnomethodology calls "constructive analysis", fails to be an adequate sociology. The second part is empirical. The argument is now pursued in terms of data from a study of terms for Canadian doctors. After an introduction (Chapter Six), the methods and results of the ethnosemantic part of the study are presented (Chapter Seven). These results are then critically examined in the light of an ethnomethodological analysis of the interviews which generated them (Chapter Eight). It is concluded (Chapter Nine) that ethnosemantics, in relying on the very competence it is trying to explicate, fails to make that resource a topic, and thereby fails to render an adequate analysis of its intended object. In contrast, ethnomethodology provides both the missing analysis and an account of ethnosemantics' failure.

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