The Montreal Massacre: A Story of Membership Categorization Analysis adopts an ethnomethodological viewpoint to analyze how the murder of women by a lone gunman at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal was presented to the public via media publication over a two-week period in 1989. All that the public came to know and understand of the murders, the murderer, and the victims was constituted in the description and commentaries produced by the media. What the murders became, therefore, was an expression of the methods used to describe and evaluate them, and central to these methods was membership category analysis the human practice of perceiving people, places, and events as members of categories, and to use these to explain actions. This is evident in the various versions comprising the overall story of the Massacre: it was a crime; it was a tragedy; it was a horror story. The killers story is also based on his own categorial analysis (he said his victims were feminists). The media commentators formulated the significance of the murders in categorial terms: it implicated a wider problem, that of violence against women, and thus the reasons for the murders were shown to be categorial matters. As a contribution to sociology, and as a demonstration of the significance of ethnomethodology for understanding social life, the book reveals the methodical and particularly categorial character of how sense is made of events such as this and how such methodical and categorial resources are central to human interaction.
Peter Eglin is a professor of sociology at Wilfrid Laurier University. He is author of Talk and Taxonomy (1980). With Stephen Hester he is co-author of A Sociology of Crime (1992) and co-editor of Culture in Action: Studies in Membership Categorization Analysis (1997). He studies the use of membership categories in practical reasoning, and intellectuals responsibility for grave breaches of human rights, the subject of his forthcoming work, Getting a Life. Stephen Hester gained his PhD from the University of Kent and has held positions at the University of Manchester, Northumbria University, Queens University, and Wilfrid Laurier University. He is presently reader in sociology at the University of Wales, Bangor. His interests are in ethnomethodology, conversation analysis, crime and deviance, and education. In addition to the titles mentioned above, Hesters previously published books include Deviance in Classrooms and Local Ed