Hofstetter 2022: Novice inquiry in unique adequacy

Hofstetter has published an article in a special issue on ethnography and ethnomethodology, “A novice inquiry into unique adequacy“.


In this paper, I question how a researcher might fulfil the unique adequacy requirement when studying novices in a setting in which the researcher is already a member. Since novices by definition lack the expected competencies in a setting, having unique adequacy for novice methods may appear oxymoronic. However, this paper suggests that unique adequacy requires enacting specific ways of ‘seeing’ as part of accomplishing local order; once one is competent, it becomes difficult to enact incompetent action in a locally adequate way, suggesting one can actually lose unique adequacy. Furthermore, as any given situated involves a multifaceted set of competencies, exactly which or whose competencies are relevant is both an analysts’ and members’ issue to solve. With reference to examples, I discuss how analysts and members delimit the ‘provinces of meaning’ in the process of finding what is locally adequate.

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