George Psathas

Emeritus Professor of Sociology



George Psathas (B.A. ‘50 and Ph.D. ’56 Yale University; M.A. ‘51 University of Michigan) is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Boston University (since 1997) and Professor (since 1968) and has served as Chairman and Associate Chairman of the Department. He also has taught at Indiana University, the University of Colorado, and Washington University, St. Louis, and held visiting appointments at the University of London, the Panteios School in Athens, the International University of Japan, Doshisha University (Kyoto), and the Institute for Human Sciences (Vienna). He is past president of the Society of Retired Faculty and Staff, Boston University; co-founder of the Society for Phenomenology and the Human Sciences; co-founder of the International Institute for Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis; and founder and Editor-in-Chief of Human Studies: An International Journal for Phenomenology and the Human Sciences. He is listed in Who’s Who in The World, 2006; Who’s Who in America, 2005 and Who’s Who in the East, 1997.

In recent years he has specialized in phenomenological perspectives in sociology, ethnomethodology and conversation analysis. His more theoretical research has focused on the works of Alfred Schutz, Harold Garfinkel and other contributors to this tradition. His areas of interest include qualitative research methods, social interaction, conversation analysis, ethnomethodology and phenomenology and sociology.


Ethnomethodology and conversation analysis at Boston University: A brief history, In Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz (ed.), The Social History of Language and Social Interaction Research: People, Places, Ideas, Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 2010.

Alfred Schutz’s influence on American sociologists and sociology, Human Studies, vol. 27, no. 1, 2004, pp. 1-35.

Reflections on the history of ethnomethodology: The Boston and Manchester “schools”, The American Sociologist, vol. 39, no. 1, 2008, pp. 38-67,

The correspondence of Alfred Schutz and Harold Garfinkel: What was the “terra incognita” and the “treasure island?,” to be published in Alfred Schutz and His Intellectual Partners, 2008 (forthcoming).

Goffman and Schutz on multiple realities, in Michael Staudigl (Ed.) Schutz and Hermeneutics, Vienna Conference, 2008 (forthcoming)

Helmut Wagner’s contributions to social science, in L. Embree and J. Dodd (eds.) The Golden Age for Phenomenology at the New School for Social Research, Springer, 2008 (forthcoming)


G. Psathas, 1989, Interaction Competence: Theory and Research Washington, D.C.: University Press of America.

G. Psathas, 1995, Conversation Analysis: The Study of Talk in Interaction, Sage Publications.

P. Ten Have and G. Psathas, eds. 1995, Situated Order Studies in the Social Organization of Talk and Embodied Activities, Washington, D.C.: University Press of America.

H. Wagner, G. Psathas and F. Kersten, 1996, Alfred Schutz Collected Papers Vol. IV, Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

M. Endress, G. Psathas, and H. Nasu, eds. 2005, Explorations of the Life-World: Continuing Dialogues with Alfred Schutz, Dordrecht: Springer.

G. Backhaus and G. Psathas, eds. 2007, The Sociology of Radical Commitment: Kurt Wolff’s Existential Turn, Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.