Working Groups


Adopted May 2011, revised in 2014


Institutional ethnography is an alternative sociology founded by Dorothy E. Smith that examines social relations and social institutions from the standpoint of the experiences of particular, active subjects. It is distinct from other sociological modes of investigation in that it is not under the direction or conceptual control of any sociological theory; rather, inquiry begins in and remains in the social world in which we live. The aims of institutional ethnography investigations are threefold. The first is to discover how it is that day in and day out we put together our social world, including how our local everyday activities are linked to and coordinated by social relations that are not entirely visible from any one location. The second aim is to develop new ways of discovering ruling relations that are consistent with the materialist social ontology of institutional ethnography. The third aim is to build knowledge of institutional processes in general. This work involves an examination of studies done in varied institutional settings and drawing out those relations and social processes that are commonly found across institutions. Throughout institutional ethnography investigations, however, the focus is on the material world: what people are doing, with whom they are doing it, and the conditions under which their activities are carried out. Institutional ethnography investigations are not limited to any specific substantive area of research or professional practice.

Article I. Objectives

The goals of the Institutional Ethnography Thematic Group are the following:

  1. to develop international contacts among sociologists and social activists interested in institutional ethnography as a mode of inquiry;
  2. to encourage the worldwide exchange of research findings, methodological advances and theoretical developments relevant to institutional ethnography;
  3. to promote international meetings and research collaboration by scholars and social activists using institutional ethnography;

Article II. Activities

To achieve these ends we shall

  1. organize sessions during world congresses,
  2. conduct at least one mid-term meeting between world congresses,
  3. produce and distribute a newsletter twice a year. The newsletter might be substituted by new means of communication in accordance with ISA regulations. The Vice-President shall be responsible for editing the newsletter which shall be distributed electronically.
  4. maintain a directory of members,
  5. conduct business meetings during the world congresses and other ISA meetings.

Article III. Membership

  1. There are two types of members: regular and affiliated members.
    1. Regular members in good standing are those who have paid their Group dues, and who are also members in good standing of the ISA.
    2. Affiliated members in good standing have paid Group dues but are not ISA members in good standing. Affiliated members may fully participate in the activities of the Group, but affiliated members may not act as Board members.
  2. All regular and affiliated members shall
    1. uphold the present statutes;
    2. conscientiously fulfill the tasks entrusted to them.
    3. participate actively in recruiting new members, and disseminate news of Group activities and of research by Group members;
    4. pay dues for a four year period in a timely manner or, exceptionally, seek an exemption from dues by application to the Group Secretary-Treasurer. Non-payment of dues will lead to loss of membership six months after the final period paid for, unless special arrangements are made.
    5. receive regular communication from the Board.
  3. All Group members are encouraged to join the ISA since the ISA may take into consideration the number of regular members when determining the Group’s rights and benefits.
  4. Membership fees will be determined by the Board at each General Meeting. The Membership fees shall be specified in the By-Laws to the present Statutes.

Article IV. Members of the Board

  1. Officers and Board members shall be knowledgeable of institutional ethnography and be regular members of the Group. They shall be dedicated to working toward the Group objectives.
  2. The Board shall consist of a President, a Vice-President, a Secretary-Treasurer and at least two other members of the Board.
  3. Each member of the Board must be a member in good standing of the ISA in accordance with ISA statutes and a member in good standing of the Group.
  4. The terms of office shall be four years and no officer may serve more than two consecutive terms except to serve as President.
  5. If casual vacancies arise in the Board between elections, they may be filled by appointment of the Board.
  6. Should the President fail to carry out their Presidential responsibilities or allow their membership to lapse, the Secretary/Treasurer is required to inform the board and to serve a six month grace period on the President. Should the irregularity not be resolved by the end of this period, the Secretary/Treasurer is required to inform the Board. One of the Board members, identified by the Board, will assume the responsibilities of the President of the Board in the case of the death, incapacitation, resignation, or other inability of the incumbent to carry out the responsibilities of the office of President.
  7. The Secretary-Treasurer shall give an accounting of any resources and liabilities of the Group at each Business Meeting. Decisions regarding expenditures must have the approval of the Board.
  8. The President shall make periodic reports to the ISA and members of the Group at appropriate times.
  9. The Board shall establish limited term committees for specific areas of interest, such as a Nominations Committee.
  10. The main means of communication will be the Internet but the officers take responsibility for informing members with limited access to it.

Article V. Elections

  1. The election of Officers and Board members shall take place at a Group Business Meeting or by email if necessary.
  2. All regular and affiliated members in good standing of the Group shall be eligible to vote.
  3. Preparation of a slate of candidates is the province of the Nominations Committee established by the Board. Members of the Nominations Committee shall not be candidates for any positions. The Nominations Committee shall be mindful of the desire for geographical diversity in the process.
  4. Only regular members of the ISA and of TG06 are eligible to be nominated as Officers and Board Members.
  5. All nominations shall be submitted to the Nominations Committee three months before the Business Meeting.
  6. All nominees must have agreed to stand for office.
  7. All nominees must have written support from at least three TG06 regular or affiliated members in good standing and shall submit a candidature statement and a short CV.
  8. If no nominations have been received in time, the officers of the Nominations Committee are empowered to nominate candidates.
  9. The Nominations Committee shall submit nominations to the President no later than one month before the start of the Business Meeting.
  10. A quorum consisting of two-thirds of the membership is necessary for elections. If the Business Meeting is inquorate, the elections shall take place electronically.
  11. Voting shall be by secret ballot.

VI. Business Meetings

  1. a. A Business Meeting of the Group shall be held during each World Congress of Sociology. In addition, interim meetings may be held.
  2. The functions of the Business Meeting are
    1. to report on the work of the Group since the last business meeting,
    2. to elect officers of the Group,
    3. to provide direction regarding the work of the Group, by passing resolutions or by other means.
    4. to handle other issues as they may arise

VII. Amendment of Statutes

Any motion to amend the statutes shall be sent to the Secretary-Treasurer three months before the Business Meeting for distribution to the membership b. Such motions shall have the written support of five members of the Group in good standing. c. Motions to amend the statutes will be considered at Business Meetings of the Group and come into effect if supported by a simple majority of those present and eligible to vote.

By-Laws of the Institutional Ethnography Thematic Group

Membership Fees
In line with ISA practice, membership fees are collected for a period of four years. Membership fees are fixed as follows:
Dues for a 4-year period

Category A, USD 40
Category B, USD 20
Category C and students, USD 10

See a currently valid ISA membership form for a list of countries for each category.