Science, Tech, Math › Social Sciences The Definition and Function of Ethnomethodology Share Flipboard Email Print Yuri_Arcurs / Getty Images Social Sciences Sociology Key Concepts Major Sociologists Deviance & Crime News & Issues Research, Samples, and Statistics Recommended Reading Psychology Archaeology Economics Environment Ergonomics Maritime By Ashley Crossman Updated January 06, 2019 Ethnomethodology is the study of how people use social interaction to maintain an ongoing sense of reality in a situation. To gather data, ethnomethodologists rely on conversation analysis and a rigorous set of techniques for systematically observing and recording what happens when people interact in natural settings. It is an attempt to classify the actions people take when they are acting in groups. Origins of Ethnomethodology Harold Garfinkel originally came up with the idea for ethnomethodology at jury duty. He wanted to explain how the people organized themselves into a jury. He was interested in how people act in particular social situations, especially ones outside of the daily norm like serving as a juror. Examples of Ethnomethodology A conversation is a social process that requires certain things in order for participants to identify it as a conversation and keep it going. People look at each other, nod their heads in agreement, ask and respond to questions, etc. If these methods are not used correctly, the conversation breaks down and is replaced by another sort of social situation.