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Fieldwork, participation, and unique-adequacy-in-action

Smith, Robin ORCID: 2022. Fieldwork, participation, and unique-adequacy-in-action. Qualitative Research 10.1177/14687941221132955

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This article is concerned with the ethnomethodological principle of unique adequacy. The unique adequacy requirement of methods requires that the researcher gains ‘vulgar competency’ in the practice(s) being studied, and, in the strong version, produces findings that are findings for members. In engaging with some existing critiques of the requirement, I draw from an ongoing participant study of the work of mountain rescue with the aim of considering matters of participation, observation, analysis and competency at the worksite itself. By attending to the lived detail of the field/worksite, I make a recommendation for an attention to what I am calling unique-adequacy-in-action. Here, then, I describe how my own participation at the scene (a technical rescue training session) demonstrates my hybrid status as member/observer/analyst and how unique adequacy is an observable resource in members’ own assessments of competency. In doing so, I aim to recover the radicality of Garfinkel’s later writings and resist the treatment of the requirement as a narrow methodological stipulation.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 13 April 2023
Date of Acceptance: 14 September 2022
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 22:56

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