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The Laboratory as an Ecology for Action: An Ethnomethodological Study of Agents and Objects in Genomic Research


This work is an ethnographic and ethnomethodological study of the community of an interdisciplinary genomics laboratory in San Diego, California. Twenty-first century genomics laboratories require this community in order to conduct their research. This study takes “community” in a broad, encompassing sense, including not only the human but also biological and technological agents of the lab. Brought together in situated, co- operative interaction, these phenomena make up an ecology. This ecology is brought about by interconnections between agents and their environment as they develop through unfolding interaction. As such, this study is focused on the ways that situations in the laboratory organize their inhabitants rather than the other way around. In this, it proposes a radically social perspective. This study specifies its topics in that everyday, ordinary, and developing work. It sets these topics amidst the history of molecular biology and bioinformatics as well as a blend of feminist and ethnomethodological theory. Based on four years of ethnographic observation and participation, video recordings and analysis, this study also reflexively incorporates the ethnographer and explores new possibilities for ethnomethodological video and its analysis.

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