Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Barbara Fox

Second Advisor

Kira Hall

Third Advisor

James A. Cowell


The present study concerns the actions of participants in routine Border Patrol checkpoint stops along major highways in the American southwest. Through detailed single-case analysis of the participants' actions, this paper investigates the commonsense knowledge that members both produce and rely on in interaction at the checkpoint. The participants in these data do not treat the stop as a straightforward activity. Instead, they call into question the moral character of the employees of the checkpoint for initiating the stop and asking the questions or making the requests that they do. The analysis follows members' characterizations of the actions and membership categories at play in the unfolding checkpoint stop, showing that participants actively negotiate their orientations to the facts of daily life at the checkpoint through the situated actions and activities they produce in this setting.