Accomplishing the Categorial Landscape of the Classroom: The Case of Group Singing


  • Patricia Jimenez
  • Robin James Smith



This article contributes to the corpus of ethnomethodological studies concerning the lived order of educational settings and, specifically, the accomplishment of what we call the "categorial landscape". In this sense, we aim to further demonstrate the contribution of ethnomethodology for understanding educational settings as accomplished through the local, practical, reflexive, and accountable accomplishment of the "classroom-as-context" by its participants. Our particular contribution is the description of how institutional educational settings are not only accomplished in and through stable category relations (i.e., "teacher" – "pupil") and associated "bound activities" but, rather, how other category relevancies and devices might be in play for specific activities which sustain the setting as one in which "education" is demonstrably getting done in this instance, a class singing session. Drawing on insights from studies of membership categorisation practices (Watson 2015; Fitzgerald 2020), we demonstrate how the multi-layered categorial landscape of the classroom is accomplished in and through the singing which occasions shifting relational devices of "teacher-pupil" and "leader-follower". Most significantly we show how the staffing and incumbency of these categories is not necessarily mapped in expected ways by and for the setting's staff.