Looking back and looking ahead

This site has been painfully neglected over the last few months. This is probably a sign of both how busy I have been with private and professional endeavours in my life, and of how unexperienced a blogger I still am. Starting a website – like starting a diet or a workout routine – is much easier than actually keeping it up. But since summer has now fully arrived, it is time to prepare the beach body together with more blog posts for other people whose beach body, like mine, only comes in two modes: pale or burnt red. A lot like Pommes Schranke.

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One of the things taking up my time has been an engagement at the University of Lüneburg. Over the winter term I have had great fun teaching a course with the befuddling title: “Ethnomethods of the Sciences”. What I tried to achieve over those four months was to give students an introduction to ethnomethodology in combination with a few issues in the sociology of science. Being part of what Lüneburg calls their “Leuphana semester”, the students I had in this seminar came from all across the academic spectrum: psychology, business studies, media studies, theology. The only thing they had in common (at least most of them) was that they had just started university. While I had not designed this course for first term students (I had no idea how Lüneburg organises its very odd degree system), I was surprised to see how well this course played out. Maybe because students hadn’t yet been subjected to the mantra that “only countables are accountables”, they easily embraced a situationist and interactionist perspective. The co-production of meaning and context in conversation, labs or the use of technology is, in my opinion, an easily demonstrable fact that students of all levels and from all degrees can observe, make sense of and benefit from in their own thinking within their own practical problems. Finally, the courage to acknowledge that the production of knowledge is a deeply practical and pragmatic issue allows not only for cynicism (which can be healthy at times, too) but should also enable practitioners to think about their work more clearly and reflect their methods and conceptual grids in the context of the essential triviality of everyday life.

Thanks to Tetiana, one of the students from this course, for taking some lovely pictures at and after our last session. I had a great time with these impressive students who have renewed my motivation to take up more teaching in the future.