Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Melvin Pollner Prize in Ethnomethodology 2013

The Pollner Prize Award Committee has announced the winner of the 2013 Pollner Prize.

Members of the committee are: Paul Drew (Loughborough University), John Heritage (Chair) (UCLA), Douglas Maynard (University of Wisconsin, Madison).

The recipient of the 2013 American Sociological Association’s EM/CA Section Pollner Prize is 

David R. Gibson, of the University of Notre Dame, for his book Talk at the Brink: Deliberation and Decision during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press (2012).

Here is the committee's letter:

"The committee received 3 nominations for this year’s award of the prize. In addition to David Gibson, Tim Berard was nominated for his article entitled Unpacking ‘Institutional Racism’ (published in the journal Schutzian Research); and Robert Garot was nominated for his book Who You Claim: Performing Gang Identity in School and on the Streets (NY: New York University Press, 2010).

The committee discussed each of these nominations in some detail, and agreed that any of the nominations would have been worthy of being awarded the prize. Berard’s article convincingly developed insights from Wittgenstein, Garfinkel, Schutz, Goffman and Sacks to “illuminate the pragmatic, moral reasoning at work in the institutional racism argument” – amounting to an insightful interrogation of the phenomenon of ‘institutional racism’. In Robert Garot’s monograph exploring the nature of gang identity and self-identity, we encountered a nuanced use of in-depth ethnographic interviews from which he provides a realistic and vibrant account of identity and gang membership, and explores the boundaries and shifting contingencies of membership and identity. In the process he does much to demonstrate the weaknesses of a static and monolithic conception of gangs and their members. What impressed us about Gibson’s book was his truly sociological account of the decision making process during the ExComm group’s deliberations in the White House, during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Gibson shows that Kennedy did not so much lead a discussion in which all options were rationally appraised, but rather steered a conversation in which certain lines of argumentation and courses of action came to be privileged over others. His account of this process, over several days of the group’s deliberations, was based in Gibson’s innovative use of ‘time-line’ analysis and his careful and detailed analysis of the interaction between Kennedy and members of his advisory group. Gibson's analysis offers a vivid picture of the conversations themselves, of the avenues that were developed or remained unexplored in the formulation of the US response, and of the contingencies that were associated with some avenues being developed and others dropped. This is a notable study."

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