Guest blog: Andrew Carlin on a posthumous book by Stephen Hester

In an earlier guest blog, Andrew Carlin recounted the genesis and current scope of the influential ethnomethodological book series  Directions in Ethnomethodology & Conversation Analysis. He looked forward to the appearance of a book that the late Stephen Hester had on the blocks before his passing; here he remembers Steve and talks about the book and its contents.

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Andrew Carlin

Stephen Hester (1947-2014) was a key figure in the fields of Ethnomethodology, Conversation Analysis and Membership Categorisation Analysis. He edited and co-edited a number of highly influential collections; and co-authored books that are perennial favourites with teachers and students, for his clear writing style and vivid examples.

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Stephen Hester, 1947-2014

Steve held research and teaching appointments at various institutions including University of Canterbury (where he completed his PhD), University of Manchester, University of Northumbria, Wilfrid Laurier University, and University of Wales at Bangor

He was the co-organizer (with Dave Francis) of two IIEMCA international conferences and a co-founder (with Dave) of the journal Ethnographic Studies. The inaugural issue appeared in Spring 1997. Steve and Dave then went on to found the Routledge book series, Directions in Ethnomethodology & Conversation Analysis.

In a previous guest blog post about the Directions in Ethnomethodology & Conversation Analysis book series, I promised to update you on developments regarding Steve’s posthumous book.

Peter Eglin and Dave Francis took on the job of sorting between the drafts that Steve had left behind – a remarkable achievement, for which we are all extremely grateful! Here is an extract from their introductory essay:

 “This book was the major project that Stephen Hester worked on in the last decade of his life. It was left unfinished when he died in April 2014. It is a study in Membership Categorization Analysis, in which this approach is applied to the analysis of talk in an educational setting in which ‘descriptions of deviance’ play a central role.” (p. 6)

Their editorial introduction details, in a small way, the work that was involved in bringing the draft manuscript to fruition; their introduction also provides an excellent conspectus of Steve’s work. We also thank Rainar Rye Larsen, who has been editorial assistant for the final version of the manuscript, for his meticulous work.

The finished volume has now been published under the  title Descriptions Of Deviance: A Study in Membership Categorisation Analysis, edited by Peter Eglin and David Francis (2016, Kolding: University of Southern Denmark Press).

 The book is now available as a free download from the site.

The site is hosted by University of Southern Denmark and the emca-legacy project is coordinated by Dr Johannes Wagner, Professor of Communication Studies (Department of Design & Communication, SDU, Kolding, Denmark).

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-10-56-44While I’m here, I should also like to announce that Peter has finished work on the Second Edition of A Sociology of Crime, by Stephen Hester & Peter Eglin, that was originally published in 1992 by Rutledge. The reprint is scheduled for for April/early May 2017.

Steve’s work on that book goes into this list of the more significant of his publications, which I’m grateful to the ROLSI blog for putting on record.

Stephen Hester: An Indicative Bibliography

Eglin, Peter, Stephen Hester (1992) Category, predicate and task: The pragmatics of practical action. Semiotica 88: 243-268

Eglin, Peter, Stephen Hester (1999) Moral order and the Montreal massacre: a story of membership categorization analysis. In: Paul L. Jalbert, (Ed.) Media Studies: Ethnomethodological Approaches. Lanham, New York, Oxford: University Press of America: 195-230

Eglin, Peter, Stephen Hester (1999) “You’re all a bunch of feminists:” Categorization and the politics of terror in the Montreal Massacre. Human Studies 22: 253-272

Eglin, Peter, Stephen Hester (2003) The Montreal Massacre A Story of Membership Categorization Analysis. Waterloo, CA: Wilfrid Laurier University Press

Francis, David, Stephen Hester (1997) Reality analysis in a classroom storytelling. British Journal of Sociology, 48: 95-112

Francis, David, Stephen Hester (2000) Le genre selon l’ethnométhodologie et l’analyse de conversation. In: Louis Quéré and Zbigniew Smoreda (eds.) Le sexe du téléphone. Paris: Editions Hermes Science, [Réseaux 103]: 215-251

Francis, David, Stephen Hester (2004) An Invitation to Ethnomethodology: Language, Society and Interaction. London: Sage Publications

Hargreaves, David H. Stephen Hester and Frank J. Mellor (1975). Deviance in Classrooms, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul (reprinted 2012)

Hester, Sally and Hester, Stephen (2010) Conversational actions and category relations: An analysis of a children’s argument. Discourse Studies, 12: 33-48

Hester, Sally and Hester, Stephen (2012) Categorial occasionality and transformation: Analyzing culture in action. Human Studies, 35(4): 563-581

Hester, Sally and Hester, Stephen (2015) Descriptions of deviance: making the case for professional help. In: Baudouin Dupret, Michael Lynch, Tim Berard, eds. Law at Work: Studies in Legal Ethnomethods, Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press: 241–271

Hester, Stephen (1976) A Sociology Study of the Use of Cannabis, unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Kent, Canterbury

Hester, Stephen (1981) Two tensions in ethnomethodology and conversation analysis, Sociology, 15: 108-116

Hester, Stephen (1985) Ethnomethodology and the study of deviance in schools. In: R. Burgess (ed.). Strategies of Educational Research: Qualitative Methods, London: Falmer Press: 243-263

Hester, Stephen (1991) The social facts of deviance in school: A study of mundane reason. British Journal of Sociology, 42: 443-463

Hester, Stephen (1992) Recognizing references to deviance in referral talk. In: G. Watson and R. Seiler (eds.) Text in Context: Contributions to Ethnomethodology, Newbury Park, CA: Sage: 156-174

Hester, Stephen (1994) Les catégories en context. In: B. Fradin, L. Quéré, J. Widmer (eds.). L’enquête sur les categories, Paris: École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales [Raisons pratiques: 5]: 219-242.

Hester, Stephen (1996) Laughter in its place. In: Paton, George E.C., Powell, Chris, Wagg, Stephen, eds., The Social Faces of Humour. Practices and Issues. Hants: Athenaeum Press: 243-269

Hester, Stephen (1998) Describing “deviance” in school: recognizably educational psychological problems. In: Antaki, C. and Widdicombe, S. (eds.), Identities in Talk. London: Sage: 133-150

Hester, Stephen (2000) The local order of deviance in school: Membership categorization, motives and morality in referral talk. In: S. Hester and D. Francis (eds.). Local Educational Order: Ethnomethodological Studies of Knowledge in Action, Amsterdam: John Benjamins: 197-222

Hester, Stephen (2002) Bringing it all back home: selecting topic, category and location in TV News Programmes. In: S. Hester and W. Housley, eds. Language, interaction and national identity: studies in the social organisation of national identity in talk-in-interaction, Aldershot: Ashgate: 16-37

Hester, Stephen (2009) Ethnomethodology: respecifying the problem of social order. In: Michael Hviid Jacobsen, ed. Encountering the everyday: an introduction to the sociologies of the unnoticed. Basingstoke & New York: Palgrave Macmillan: 234-256

Hester, Stephen (2016) Descriptions of deviance: a study in membership categorization analysis, edited by Peter Eglin & David Francis Kolding: University of Southern Denmark.

Hester, Stephen, Peter Eglin (1992) A sociology of crime. London & New York: Routledge (Second Edition forthcoming 2017)

Hester, Stephen, Peter Eglin, eds. (1997) Culture in action: studies in membership categorization analysis. Washington, DC: University Press of America

Hester, Stephen, Peter Eglin (1997) Membership categorization analysis: an introduction. In: Stephen Hester, Peter Eglin, eds., Culture in action: studies in membership categorization analysis. Washington, DC: University Press of America: 1-24

Hester, Stephen, Peter Eglin (1997) The reflexive constitution of category, predicate and context in two settings. In: Stephen Hester, Peter Eglin, eds., Culture in action: studies in membership categorization analysis. Washington, DC: University Press of America: 25-48

Hester, Stephen, Richard Fitzgerald (1999) Category, predicate and contrast: some organizational features in a radio talk show. In: Paul L. Jalbert, (Ed.) Media Studies: Ethnomethodological Approaches. Lanham, New York, Oxford: University Press of America: 171-194

Hester, Stephen, David Francis (1994) “Doing data”: the local organisation of a sociological interview. British Journal of Sociology, 45: 675-695

Hester, Stephen, David Francis (1997) Reality analysis in a classroom storytelling. British Journal of Sociology, 48(1): 95-112

Hester, Stephen, David Francis, eds. (2000) Local Educational Order: Ethnomethodological studies of knowledge in action. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins

Hester, Stephen, David Francis (2000). Ethnomethodology and local educational order. In S. Hester & D. Francis, eds., Local educational order: ethnomethodological studies of knowledge in action. Amsterdam: John Benjamins: 1-17

Hester, Stephen, David Francis (2000) Category play in a school staff-room. Ethnographic Studies 5: 42-55

Hester, Stephen, David Francis (2000) Ethnomethodology, conversation analysis and “institutional talk”. Text, 20(3): 391-413

Hester, Stephen, David Francis (2000) Analysing “institutional talk”: a reply to Watson. Text, 20(3): 373-375

Hester, Stephen, David Francis (2001) Is institutional talk a phenomenon? Reflections on ethnomethodology and applied conversation analysis. In: Alec McHoul and Mark Rapley, eds. How to Analyse Talk in Institutional Settings: A Casebook of Methods. London: Continuum: 206-217

Hester. Stephen, David Francis (2003) Analysing visually available mundane order: a walk to the supermarket. Visual Studies 18(1): 36-46

Hester, Stephen, David Francis, eds. (2007) Orders of ordinary action: respecifying sociological knowledge. Aldershot: Ashgate

Hester, Stephen, David Francis (2007) Analysing orders of ordinary action. In: Stephen Hester, David Francis, eds. Orders of ordinary action: respecifying sociological knowledge. Aldershot: Ashgate: 3-12

Hester, Stephen, William Housley, eds. (2002) Language, Interaction and National Identity: Studies in the social organisation of national identity in talk-in-interaction. Aldershot: Ashgate

Hester, Stephen, William Housley (2002) Introduction: ethnomethodology and national identity. In S. Hester, W. Housley, eds. Language, interaction and national identity: studies in the social organisation of national identity in talk-in-interaction, Aldershot: Ashgate: 1-15

This is not an exhaustive bibliography, but is an indicative source-listing of Steve’s range of interests and orientations towards members’ phenomenaDescriptions of Deviance continues the commitment to fine-grained data-oriented analyses that were consistent and distinctive hallmarks of Steve’s approach to doing radical, naturalistic sociological work.

Guest blog: Bogdana Huma on the interactional analysis of economic encounters

Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis have made significant advances in our understanding of how institutions work, but the business of economics has proved rather a tougher nut to crack. In this welcome blog, Bogdana Huma reports on a recent syposium on “economic encounters”. In a well-appointed attic in Maastricht, symposiasts analysed bazaars, cheese shops, cold calling, and much more….

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Bogdana Huma, Loughborough University

At the end of October, the lively city of Maastricht hosted an EM/CA workshop on the topic of economic encounters. The event brought together academics from 12 universities and eight countries, all passionate about researching the artful accomplishment of various economic exchanges in and as part of everyday life. Continue reading

Guest blog: Joe Ford on the AWIA meeting on Action Description

We can’t always manage to get to the conferences we want to, and here Joe Ford very kindly sends in a report on an attractive meeting that many of us will have missed because of teaching duties in term-time. ‘Action description’ is a hot topic at the moment (along with other members of the ‘action’ suite – formation and recognition), so this is a very welcome bulletin from the front line. 


Joe Ford, Loughborough University

The website for the biennial symposium of the Netherlands Anela Study Group Discourse Analysis (AWIA) describes it as “an informal and small-scale meeting”. True as this may be, its website also features a list of prior speakers extending back to 1993 which includes Anita Pomerantz, Jörg Bergmann and Geoffrey Raymond  Continue reading

Guest blog: Jacob Davidsen and Paul McIlvenny on Experiments with Big Video

How good are your video records? One angle? Two? Wide-angle? Was the camera static or did you move to catch things – and miss other things? How good was the sound? All of us have occasionally been frustrated with what we find on the screen when we come to analyse it, but Jacob Davidsen and Paul McIlvenny have some more fundamental concerns. Just how “big” should data be? 


Paul McIlvenny (l.) and Jacob Davidsen

Continue reading


Guest blog: Saul Albert and colleagues on the “Conversational Rollercoaster” EM/CA exhibition

Conversation Analysis is hardly known as a spectator sport, yet it offers a great way to involve members of the public to see what interactional research might look like. Saul Albert organised a superb demonstration, lasting over four days, of CA analysts from Queen Mary, Loughborough, Keele, York, Oxford, and Roehampton working at a major London science exhibition. This is his report.


Saul Albert, Queen Mary University of London

New Scientist Live is one of the largest science festivals in the UK, so when they asked our Cognitive Science group at Queen Mary University to propose a hands-on public engagement activity, I challenged myself to come up with a way to ‘demo’ EM/CA.

Continue reading

Guest blog: Stuart Ekberg on digital psychotherapy

Can psychotherapy really be offered online, without seeing or hearing the other person? Is rapport possible? What does the therapeutic conversation look like? These are increasingly topical questions as therapists explore the affordances of the internet and email. In this fascinating guest blog, Stuart Ekberg introduces us  to the world of digital therapy in his report on the article in the new issue of ROLSI that he wrote with Alison R. G. Shaw, David S. Kessler, Alice Malpass and Rebecca K. Barnes.


Stuart Ekberg, QUT, Brisbane

Talk is supposed to be central to psychotherapy – so much so that therapy has been described as ‘the talking cure’ since the 1890s. However central, this basic format has not been immune from digital disruption. Continue reading