Scholars in the social sciences are realizing more and more the extent to which the work of "scientists" in all disciplines is rhetorical, involving the persuasion of colleagues and students and depending upon textual conventions. Sociological texts themselves are part of a set of traditions and conventions that are in turn part of our academic culture. "The Ethnographic Imagination" explains how one sociological tradition - the ethnographic - has been reflected and represented in its texts. Paul Atkinson looks at selected sociological texts in the light of contemporary social theory and analyzes how their arguments are constructed and illustrated. His discussion ranges widely, from classic ethnographies of the Chicago School up to contemporary monographs. Using a wealth of illustrations, he explores how ethnographic texts persuade their readers of the authenticity of their accounts; how they portray social actors as "characters" and "types"; and how they use narrative to convey social action, and to transmit implicit sociological theory.