Saturday, July 13, 2019
2019 EMCA Distinguished Book Award
The committee for the 2019 EMCA Distinguished Book Award, consisting of Jason Turowetz, Donald Everhart, and Waverly Duck, has unanimously selected Charles Goodwin as this year’s recipient for his book, Cooperative Action (Cambridge University Press, 2017). The committee chose Dr. Goodwin’s book for its outstanding contributions to the field of ethnomethodology and conversation analysis. The book represents the culmination of the late Dr. Goodwin’s decades-long scholarship in EMCA, applied linguistics, and anthropology, and ties together all of his work, from his earliest research on collaborative sentence construction and argumentation to his pathbreaking studies of interaction and disability, professional vision, embodied and multimodal action, and archaeological practice.
At the center of the book is Goodwin’s argument that cooperative action is the cornerstone of human culture and social order, providing “in the midst of action itself, a systematic mechanism for progressive accumulation with modification from all scales, from chains of local utterances, through tools, to the unfolding differentiation through time of human social groups” (2017:1). Drawing on materials from a range of fields, including evolutionary biology, anthropology, sociology, archaeology, linguistics, and psychology, Goodwin addresses big questions that cut across disciplinary boundaries as he makes the case for an interaction-centered theory of human society. In particular, he shows how actors build courses of action by using and modifying resources created in previous interactions, and how local actions are implicated in the continual making and remaking of culture. His book puts EMCA in dialogue with scholars in the social and natural sciences, articulating a “general mechanism…for both accumulation and incremental change, one lodged within the interstices of mundane action itself” (2017:7) and challenging popular alternatives that reduce social behavior to psychological and/or biological processes.
Goodwin’s impressive book will no doubt serve as a resource and inspiration for current and future generations of EMCA scholars.