Chapter 10: Documents

  1. What features seem to differentiate the blogs of the two males in the blogs provided by Hookway?
  2. Attempt to use any one data analysis method discussed in this book (e.g. content analysis, narrative analysis or membership categorization device analysis) on these extracts. What further features can you see?

The following is a completed selector’s report using the same form as found in Table 10.4.

Name: Fortescue

Appearance: Tall, thin, straw-coloured hair. Neat and tidy

Acceptability: High. Pleasant, quite mature sensible man

Confidence: Very good. Not conceited but firm, put himself across very well

Effort: Excellent academic record

Organization: Excellent, both at school and university

Motivation: Keen on administration and very well informed on it. Has had considerable experience. Quite well informed about both organization and its functions generally.

Any other comments: Call for interview. First-rate.

  1. What conclusions may be drawn from how the selector has completed this form (e.g. what sort of features does the selector find praiseworthy or not needing comment?).
  2. Does the completed form help us in understanding why certain candidates are selected at this organization? If so, how? If not, why not?
  3. If you were told that this selector came to a different decision when played a tape recording of the same interview some months later, what would you make of this fact? What research questions could be asked now?

In a discussion of how records are assembled on ‘juvenile delinquents’ in the US justice system, Cicourel (1968) considers the case of Linda, aged 13. Linda first came to the attention of the police when she reported that she had been kidnapped by four boys. She said that she had been coaxed away from a party by them and admitted that she had told them that she would get drunk and then have sexual intercourse with one of them. After stealing some alcohol, the boys took her to a club where they all got drunk and she had sex with the youngest boy. Although the boys sought to depict Linda as a ‘slut’, the police viewed Linda as an ‘attractive’ victim with no prior record. However, some weeks later, acting on information from Linda’s parents, the police saw Linda in a drunken state and obtained an admission that she had had sex with ten boys. She was now charged as in danger of leading a lewd and immoral life. Extract 10.3 is from an interview between Linda (L) and a female probation officer (PO) after Linda’s arrest:

PO: You’re not pregnant?

L: No

PO: Have you used anything to prevent a pregnancy?

L:   Once X (one of her boyfriends) used one of those things

PO: Did you ever feel scared about getting pregnant?

L: No, I was always trying to get even with my parents

PO: You sort of wanted to get even with them?

L: Yes. I always wanted to get even with other people. My mother gets mad at me. I love my father. I know that’s what’s wrong with me. I talk about this with my parents. I don’t know why.

The PO’s report suggests that Linda needs psychotherapy and suggests that she be institutionalized for three to six months’ treatment.

  1. How does the PO organize her questioning to support her eventual recommendation?
  2. Is there any evidence that Linda is colluding with the PO in a particular interpretation of her past behaviour?

Analyse the following extract from Enron’s Ethical Code as a narrative (see Section 5.4) or as a set of membership categories (Section 10.4). Explain why Enron won prizes for this statement.

The material that follows can be found at:

Principles of Human Rights

As a partner in the communities in which we operate, Enron believes it has a responsibility to conduct itself according to certain basic tenets of human behavior that transcend industries, cultures, economics, and local, regional and national boundaries.

And because we take this responsibility as an international employer and global corporate citizen seriously, we have developed the following principles on human rights.

Enron’s Vision and Values are the platform upon which our human rights principles are built.


Enron’s vision is to become the world’s leading energy company – creating innovative and efficient energy solutions for growing economies and a better environment worldwide.



We treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves. We do not tolerate abusive or disrespectful treatment. Ruthlessness, callousness and arrogance don’t belong here.


We work with customers and prospects openly, honestly and sincerely. When we say we will do something, we will do it; when we say we cannot or will not do something, then we won’t do it.


We have an obligation to communicate. Here, we take the time to talk with one another... and to listen. We believe that information is meant to move and that information moves people.


We are satisfied with nothing less than the very best in everything we do. We will continue to raise the bar for everyone. The great fun here will be for all of us to discover just how good we can really be.

Select an Internet forum that interests you. To simplify analysis, limit your data to posts which total no more than 20 lines.

Now identify the identities invoked and the activities described in these messages.

In Table 10.6 how would we have interpreted the story if the headline had read as follows? ‘Supermarket Manager and School Student in Snow Ordeal’

  • Given that headline, would we have felt like reading the rest of the story and, if so, why?
  • What are the implications of the chosen categories being derived from the MCD ‘family’? And what does it tell us about the saliency of this MCD, that single categories will do (remember that the Economy Rule is not obligatory)?
  • Why do we not doubt that this is not any daughter but the daughter of this ‘father’?
  • Why is ‘snow ordeal’ newsworthy in the context of the MCD ‘family’?

Here is another lonely hearts advertisement:

Good looking (so I am told!) Englishman, 35, tall, professional, seeks very attractive lady, preferably non-smoker, to wine, dine and make her smile. Age unimportant. Photo appreciated.

  1. What does this advertisement imply about the advertiser or the ‘lady’ sought even though it does not tell us these things directly?
  2. Show how we can see this by examining how this advertisement uses the following devices:
  • MCDs
  • Economy rule
  • Consistency rule
  • Category-bound activities
  • Category-modifiers
  • Standardized relational pairs
  • Positioned categories