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Short Title

Introduction to the Special Issue

Abstract

Twelve years ago the Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare (JSSW) published a special issue devoted to institutional ethnography, “Institutional Ethnography: Theory and Practice” (Winfield, 2003). This alternative sociology, founded by Dorothy E. Smith, begins from the standpoint of the experiences of particular, active subjects and sets out to discover and describe the social relations shaping those experiences (Smith, 1987, 2005, 2006). JSSW, dedicated to publishing new, cutting-edge theoretical and methodological articles, was the first academic journal to devote a special issue to this new mode of inquiry used to investigate the social world. Over the ensuing years, the number of international practitioners of institutional ethnography has increased across a diverse array of disciplines, opening up new areas of investigation and methodological strategies, and in the process increasing our knowledge of “ruling relations,” that “expansive, historically specific apparatus of management and control that arose with the development of corporate capitalism and supports it operation” (DeVault, 2006, p. 295).

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