Institutional Enthnography

Smith is well-known as a pathbreaking feminist scholar and in particular for her work on standpoint theory, which argues that what one knows is heavily influenced by one’s position (standing) in society. The basic premises of Smith’s approach is that 1) it is impossible to have complete objective knowledge; 2) no two people will have exactly the same standpoint; and 3) one cannot take one’s own perspective or standpoint for granted. Recognizing this, the theorist must take her/his situated social experience as an entry point for any investigation.
In the reading, you should be able to recognize the influence of the microinteractionist sociological tradition, specifically phenomenological theories, ethnomethodology, and the work of George Herbert Mead, Erving Goffman, and Harold Garfinkel. Smith’s work is an excellent example of applying theories of how individual consciousness is formed and in turn contributes to constructing the social world that we normally take for granted.
In the discussion, let’s start with Smith’s observation that her life at home and her work at the university constituted two separate tracks or subjectivities, each with distinct patterns of consciousness and reasoning, that could not be blended or integrated (see Smith, p. 384). For your first post, discuss what you think she means by this and whether or not you have experienced a similar division in your own social relations. 

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