The Orderliness of Flow


  • Michael Ball Staffordshire University
  • Gregory Smith Staffordshire University



This paper follows Sharrock and Anderson's recommendation (derived from their comparison of the practice of general ethnographic enquiry to ethnomethodological studies) in order to consider what "can be found from a small amount of data." Our data comprises 60 seconds of audio-video materials contained in an advertisement, materials that are publicly available. The advertisement employs a range of commonplace idioms and understandings from everyday life that are simultaneously embellished and manifest a strong element of fantasy to fashion an entertaining and amusing advertisement, a component within what Schutz has termed "multiple realities". The advertisement comprises a collection of behavioural episodes that are located in a range of common place everyday settings, that display real people working with real items of material culture, what Goffman has termed "commercial realism". The episodes within the advertisement draw upon the viewers' knowledge of how scenes within everyday life exhibit an orderliness and are made sense of in context. As viewers of an advertisement, we however recognise that the depicted behavioural episodes are contrived choreographed scenes in which real people work with "real world" objects (Garfinkel). Following these analytic directions, we explore aspects of how the advertisement is assembled and of how it operates to market the advertised product.