Understanding Trans-Sequential Ethnography and its Place in the Contemporary Sociological Landscape


  • Matthew Mahler Yale University
  • Mirco Liefke Freie Universität Berlin




What is trans-sequential ethnography? What defines it – both as a theoretical apparatus and a way of practicing ethnography? We address these questions by situating trans-sequential ethnography, also frequently known as trans-sequential analysis or TSA, within broader trends within the discipline of sociology as a whole. In particular, we argue that TSA can perhaps best be understood in two ways. First, we argue that it should be seen as standing within a long line of social theory which argues that the fundamental ontological condition of social life is one of, what we term, excess. Second, we argue that TSA should also be seen as a rather systematic attempt to overcome the methodological difficulties that sociologists (and ethnographers in particular) have encountered as a result of this ontological fact.


Matthew Mahler, Yale University

Research Affiliate

Senior Fellow, Urban Ethnography Project

Department of Sociology

Yale University

Mirco Liefke, Freie Universität Berlin

Research Associate and Lecturer

Department of Political and Social Sciences

Institute for Media and Communication Studies

Division Communication Policy/Media Economics

Freie Universität Berlin


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Ad-Hoc: Jenseits innerfachlicher Pole: Die Transsequentielle Analyse und ihre Potentiale für eine transdisziplinäre Vergleichbarkeit