Home » » Ethnography on Trial: Introduction to the Dialogue
While [ethnographers] do seek to uncover the rules of action, such rules are not as clearly discoverable as law is to lawyers – through examination of definitive statements. Most rules of social behavior are tacit and unstated. Frequently they arise in interaction and can only be recognized after the fact … . They are, however, the rules used by participants, not those imposed by others – [e.g.,] legal officials … . In observing behavior, including conversation, my intention is to capture the rules and meanings by which [what I am studying] is defined and observed by participants; to understand the cultural categories and meanings through which [that activity] is assessed, understood, and seen as appropriate or inappropriate and the ways in which such categories are applied in different circumstances.
– Joseph Gusfield (1996, 102–103, emphases added)