Phenomenological sociology and ethnomethodology are two new and significant developments in modern sociological theory. Traditional sociology takes for granted that the social world has an objective existence; it does not query the commonsense assumptions that are grounded in experience. Ethnomethodological studies, on the other hand, seek to treat practical activities, practical circumstances, and practical sociological reasoning as topics of empirical study. By paying to the most commonplace activities of daily life the attention usually accorded extraordinary events, it seeks to learn about them as phenomena in their own right.
New Directions in Sociological Theory is the result of a course of lectures given by the authors at Goldsmiths' College, University of London. Part I is an analysis of traditional sociology, including such topics as "Sociology and the Social World," "Varieties of Positivism," "Functionalism and Systems Theory," and "Theory, Methodology, and Conceptualization." Part II discusses phenomenological alternatives, including "Phenomenological Philosophy and Sociology," "Some Neglected Questions about Social Reality," "Methodology and Meaning," and "On Harold Garfinkel's Ethnomethodology," a study of one of the most important ethnomethodologists of today.