The aim of this paper is to provide a comprehensive overview of ethnomethodology and explore its usefulness as a methodology for nursing. Ethnomethodology was conceived through the writings of Harold Garfinkel, an American Sociologist in 1967. The influence of phenomenology, sociology and writings of the linguistic philosopher Wittengenstein is evident in this methodology. In the 1970s, it was both heralded by some as a threat to sociology and by others as a welcome development borne out of the dissatisfaction with positivist paradigm research. It is a methodology that has been utilised not only by sociologists but also by many health care disciplines. However, its utilisation by nurse researchers has not been widespread. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.