Mel Pollner Eulogies

December 2, 2009

We are pleased to announce the inauguration of the Melvin Pollner Prize in Ethnomethodology. The Pollner Prize will be awarded every other year beginning in 2010 to the author of an article, chapter, or book that develops original work drawing upon or resonant with Mel's ethnomethodological interests in topics such as mundane reason, reality disjunctures, radical reflexivity, and the connections and contributions of ethnomethodology to other types of sociology. The Prize will be administered by the Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis Section of the American Sociological Association. We include an attachment of the EM/CA Section first call for nominations. Mel was an important figure in ethnomethodology, producing work that had broad significance for sociological theory and research. His work analyzed how people create and sustain a sense of living in an objective, intersubjectively shared world -- in short, how people “do” ordinary reality. In a series of influential articles and in his book, Mundane Reason (1987), Mel examined the ways in which this “objective” reality is produced and sustained in ordinary interaction. Through the Pollner Prize we seek to encourage current and future generations of scholars to consider and engage these and other issues that Mel saw as central contributions from and to ethnomethodology.

While devoted to ethnomethodology, Mel was committed to and involved in sociology and the sociological perspective. Originally trained as a survey researcher, he continued to work with survey data throughout his career and published a number of articles using quantitative data and techniques. He regularly taught broadly inclusive courses on the sociology of mental illness, and edited and published work in this area addressing a variety of fundamental sociological issues and processes. Mel also had a life-long interest in the historical shaping of human consciousness, drawing inspiration from works ranging from Julian Jaynes’ analysis of the breakdown of the bicameral mind to Norbert Ellias’ studies of manners and the civilizing process. We see the Pollner Prize as providing a tribute not only to Mel’s ethnomethodological concerns, but also to his passion for the broader sociological enterprise.

Although initial funds have been donated to establish the Pollner Prize, we need additional contributions if we are to realize our goal of awarding a $1000 prize every second year. So we are asking you to contribute what you can to fully fund this tribute to Mel’s work and memory. You can do so by sending a check, made out to American Sociological Association, to the following address:

American Sociological Association
Attn: Les Briggs, Director of Finance
1430 K Street NW, Ste. 600
Washington, DC 20005

Please note on your check that your contribution is for the “Pollner Prize.” (Contributions are tax deductible.)


Judy Pollner
Bob Emerson