ISA World Congress of Sociology, Yokohama, Japan, July 2014

Thematic Group on
Institutional Ethnography, TG06

TG06 main page

Program Coordinator

Number of allocated sessions including Business Meeting: 10.


For sessions program and schedule see

On-line congress program


Educational Accountability Practices in Systems, Educational Institutions and Homes

Session Organizer
Barbara COMBER, Queensland University of Technology, Australia,

Session in English

Educational work in systems, educational institutions and homes is changing with the continuing onslaught of new requirements to account for performance. Across the many sites where educational work is done the impacts are being experienced by educational professionals (including policy-makers, teacher educators, academics, educational researchers, educational consultants, school and systems leaders, teachers and tutors). Such practices are being transferred into the very ways in which students experiences their learning lives (in and out of educational institutions) and also into the ways in which family members are expected to offer support and supervision. Accountability regimes redefine what constitutes educational ‘success’ at every level. This session invites papers which report on studies of the actual practices which are regulated, coordinated and organised in the context of educational reform agendas concerned with standardisation and accountability.


Explicating the Ruling Relations of Management

Session Organizer
Cheryl ZURAWSKI, University of Regina, Canada,

Session in English

This session invites submissions from institutional ethnographers whose research explores how conditions of inequality come to be for people whose everyday lives are shaped and determined by the ruling relations of management. People who hold jobs as managers, people whose on-the-job activities are managed and people who are to be the beneficiaries of the work that managers and the managed do are all implicated as participants in these relations of ruling.

As the relations of ruling of management are continually revised and extended in contemporary society, the potential for conditions of inequality to be perpetuated is great. This is where critical, politically-oriented and social justice-minded scholars who use institutional ethnography make an important contribution by producing knowledge as a resource for people to confront and work to eliminate conditions of inequality in their everyday lives. Institutional ethnographers whose studies map or trace the way in which the relations of ruling of management are becoming more comprehensive and complex so as to perpetuate the conditions of equality in the everyday lives of the people are among those likely to be attracted to this session.


Interdisciplinary Applications of Institutional Ethnography

Session Organizer
Lois ANDRE-BECHELY, California State University, USA,

Session in English

This session seeks papers related to Institutional Ethnographic research that emanates from a variety of disciplines. Specifically, papers selected for this session will be based on research that reveals the workings of ruling relations in contemporary society. The session is designed to bridge disciplines related to institutional ethnography by bringing together work that illustrates the ways in which differing disciplines approach the core question, “how does it happen?”, that institutional ethnographers bring to their research.


Issues and Developments in Institutional Ethnography

Session Organizer
Alison GRIFFITH, York University, Canada,

Session in English

Institutional Ethnography is the focus of this session. IE claims an ontological ground that appears to have strong similarities with other sociologies (for example, public sociology, social constructionism, ANT, extended case studies, grounded theory, narrative analysis). Papers are invited that examine the social ontology of IE in relation to other sociologies in terms of theoretical development, practical application, and other issues such as research strategies or knowledge dissemination. Papers should take a didactic approach to draw out the ways that IE shares its ontological ground with other explorations of the social world, as well as identifying the points of separation that distinguish IE from similar sociological frames. Papers that use research data to illustrate conceptual similarities and differences as well as those that take a more philosophical approach are welcome.


Locating Institutional Sites of Change: Social Intervention in Times of Crisis and Welfare Restructuring

Session Organizers
Naomi NICHOLS, York University, Canada,
Isabella PAOLETTI, New University of Lisboa, Portugal,

Session in English

Availability and access to social care is a relevant aspect in the fight against poverty and social exclusion. In Western Countries welfare systems have been progressively restructured, moving increasingly towards a market economy in the provision of social care. The present economic crisis has implied significant cuts in public provision of social care in many countries, aggravating considerably the material condition of vulnerable people.

Institutional Ethnography can effectively inform community development and social change work, showing the specific institutional practices, which systemically disadvantage particular groups of people and what kinds of institutional changes will be effective and how to arrive at them. An investigation that begins with participants’ experiential knowledge lends itself to an emergent, community-driven, social-justice oriented research agenda.

This session invites papers that explore IE’ s potential for locating institutional sites of change, as well as the strategic use of IE in community or public service settings. This panel aims to discuss theoretical perspectives on social intervention at the policy level and empirical studies that document and critically discuss social intervention practices.


TG06 Business Meeting

Session Organizer

This business meeting is open to all members of Thematic Group 06 as well as ISA members interested in Institutional Ethnography. The Business Meeting will include a discussion of the election process for 2014-18 as well as an information session on IE news and publications.


The Institutional Challenges of the Legal Frameworks in the Contemporary World

Session Organizer
Laura FERRENO, Universidad Nacional de Avellaneda, Argentina,

Session in English

The minorities were historically exiled from the democratic system. The institutions reifies the social gap because it reproduces the socio-economic differences in the territory were located. The daily struggle of the vulnerable groups for survive makes invisible the inequity of opportunities to access education and jobs. This problem becomes an obstruction for the possibility of social improvement, reinforcing and reproducing the social discrimination conditions. In some countries in the 20th century this problem has been reversed with specific policies for these groups.

We invite institutional ethnography papers that examine practices that exclude or severely limit people from participation in specific areas of social life. While we are especially interested in institutional ethnography studies of obstacles to higher education, studies dealing with a variety of other issues will be welcome in this session: lack of access to education, limitations in health care provision obstacles to adequate employment and wages, boundaries in the admission at publics jobs, restrictions on expressions of sexuality, insufficient access to food and shelter, among others. The focus should be on the ruling relations (how it is that people are regulated, subordinated, and deprived) and the consequences for people in the everyday world (their daily struggles and suffering).


The Language of Research as Problematic: Doing Institutional Ethnography beyond the Ruling of the Mainstream Culture

Session Organizer
Sophie POMERLEAU, Université McGill, Canada,

Session in English/French

Le but de cette session bilingue est d’explorer les différents défis (tensions) relatifs à la réalisation d’ethnographies institutionnelles (EI) dans des contextes (langues et cultures) autres que ceux de la culture anglo-saxonne dominante en recherche. Cette session vise à inclure toute présentation qui offre une réflexion portant sur les défis rencontrés par : 1) les personnes d’expression autre qu’anglaise lors de la conduite d’EI; et 2) les personnes d’expression anglaise lors de la réalisation d’EI dans des cultures autres qu’anglo-saxonnes. De plus, les réflexions relatives à la portée universelle de l’EI sont aussi bienvenues.

The aim of this bilingual session is to explore tensions associated with the conduct of Institutional Ethnographies (IE) in contexts (language and culture) others than the dominant occidental English-speaking research culture. This session seeks papers that offer insights into tensions encountered by: 1) people speaking other language than English while conducting IE; and 2) people of English language while conducting IE in non-English contexts. Also, reflections regarding the universal application of IE are welcomed.


The Social Organization of Gendered Relations: Contemporary Perspectives, Global Responses

Session Organizer
Alison FISHER, York University, Canada,

Session in English

This session invites participants to explore ideological and institutional responses to gendered violence. Papers will examine how institutional policies and procedures organize and coordinate responses to violent incidents that are sexist, homophobic and/or trans-phobic. Papers should engage with ideas developed in Dorothy Smith’s (1987; 1990; 2005) work including her exploration of relations and apparatuses of ruling which use particular ideological practices, manifested through textually mediated discourses, to construct objectified knowledges.

Papers may also focus on how social actors within institutional settings re-construct, organize and coordinate textually mediated discourses of gender-based violence. Using Smith’s notion of ‘standpoint’ (1987; 2001) as a reference, participants may also wish to investigate how such discourses transform and/or (re)construct subjective experience ‘on the ground’.

Papers could explore a range of institutional settings, including but not limited to, schools, health care institutions, non-profit organizations, governments, unions, military and or policing agencies. This session encourages papers that engage institutional responses to gendered violence from a variety of cultural contexts.


When Western IE meets Eastern Culture of Care

Session Organizer
Frank T.Y. WANG, National Chengchi University, Taiwan,

Session in English

Not open for submission of abstracts.
Institutional Ethnography, a unique sociological method of inquiry which aims to explore social relations from the experiences of everyday lives, provides an approach to link the micro experiences with the macro institutional arrangements. The inclusion of daily experiences and the linkage of everyday experience and institutional analysis in IE have been a source of inspiration for critical scholars in Taiwan.

In this panel, we focus on the social organization of care. Five IE researchers will present their critical analysis to illustrate how care in different domains, such as child care for indigenous peoples, care for disabled students, care for victims of domestic violence, home care by live-in migrant workers, and institutional care, is organized in a way to reinforce relations of inequality. Senior IE researcher, Marjorie DeVault, will be the discussant for the session.



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June 2014