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A Manifesto for Live Methods: Provocations and Capacities

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Abstract

In this manifesto for live methods the key arguments of the volume are summarized in eleven propositions. We offer eleven provocations to highlight potential new capacities for how we do sociology. The argument for a more artful and crafty approach to sociological research embraces new technological opportunities while expanding the attentiveness of researchers. We identify a set of practices available to us as sociologists from the heterodox histories of the tradition as well as from current collaborations and cross-disciplinary exchanges. The question of value is not set apart from the eleven points we raise in the manifesto. Additionally, we are concerned with how the culture of audit and assessment within universities is impacting on sociological research. Despite the institutional threats to sociology we emphasize the discipline is well placed in our current moment to develop creative, public and novel modes of doing imaginative and critical sociological research.

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... In the aftermath of Writing Culture (Clifford & Marcus, 1986), for example, the narrative-driven text of the traditional anthropological account was skewered, resulting in a diversification and fragmentation of both fieldsites and approaches. In sociology, ethnographic work has sought to capture the shifting terrains of the global era through mobile, 'live' methods (Back & Purwar, 2012;Burawoy, 2000). In criminology, however, there have been few stocktakes or renewals of this kind-rather, ethnographers of crime and deviance have subsisted at the margins, burrowed deep in their fieldsites and only coming out for air to speak to one another or with confused colleagues. ...
... The classical idea of the ethnographer is akin to that of the out-of-town stranger in John Ford films, arriving in a new place, figuring out who's who, the social dynamics involved, how these are shaped and how to make your way through them. I wonder, though, in an era that is at least as much about mobility as immobility, whether we need to think about moving ethnographies-more urgent, live accounts of events as they unfold (Back & Purwar, 2012). I'm thinking here more of the immediacy of recent films like Tangerine, a tale of humour and vengeance on the streets of LA, shot on an iPhone; or like Victoria, told in a single-shot, real-time, tugging the viewer urgently into and through the lives of others. ...
... Finally, virtual and digital ethnographies-and the hinterland between 'online' and 'offline' presence-represent a critical lens through which to engage the present. Such issues require ethnographers to think creatively and inventively about how we do 'real-time' sociological research into evolving social relations, practices and interactions whilst remaining attentive to the bigger historical and political frames (Back & Purwar, 2012). ...
Chapter
As researchers, our lives, attitudes, and experiences shape the questions we ask, how we ask them, and potentially even our methods of answering those questions. How we approach scholarly work is not just about our studies but how we perceive where we are at the time and where we are ideologically. Our positions can have both positive and negative effects on our research. In this chapter, I discuss my own personal experiences as a young scholar of neighborhood disorder and how I ultimately changed a biased position toward neighborhoods and race into a more open, less-biased research agenda and methods.
... Collecting social media data in real-time provides the possibility of studying social and managerial processes during Covid-19 as they are happening (Edwards et al, 2013). It also provides the opportunity to achieve simultaneity in data collection, analysis, and dissemination of results (Back & Puwar, 2012). Especially in subdisciplines such as crisis management, this simultaneity is desirable for understanding how firms manage the Covid-19 crisis in real-time. ...
... Furthermore, data on social processes collected retrospectively after the crisis might be affected by data loss, biased documentation, and faulty memories (Levick & Olavarria-Gambi, 2020). On the other hand, focusing too much on real-time data might put one in the "trap of now" (Back & Puwar, 2012). Qualitative research is known for its ability to capture the subjectivities and experiences encountered by people. ...
... Collecting data retrospectively after the pandemic times might even be advisable in this case (Schröder, 2011). On the other hand, collecting qualitative data involves immersion in the research context and a transformation of the researcher's perspectives over time (Back & Puwar, 2012). A retrospective data collection might affect this process by curbing this immersion and gradual transformation. ...
Chapter
Qualitative social media data has immense potential to contribute to management research. This chapter familiarizes novice management student-researchers with the risks and benefits of qualitative social media data collection during COVID-19. With the help of examples from published studies, this chapter illustrates the concepts of availability (i.e. accessibility and timeliness) and relevance (i.e. significance and fitness) in the context of qualitative social media data collection. The implications of this chapter go beyond COVID-19 times - By analyzing the risks and benefits associated with the use of feasible data sources, the efficiency of the research process and the trustworthiness of results can be ensured. This risk-benefit analysis of potential data sources is also vital for business schools, journal editors, funding agencies, and regulatory bodies who make policies and assess the value of research. Academics of the future should therefore explore the enormous potential of qualitative social media data rigorously, but wisely.
... I designed my methodology following the perspective of live methods proposed by Back and Puwar (2012). It proposes involving more attention to the sensory and the personal with creative methods in sociological research. ...
... In this way, the diagrammatic and collaborative data analysis can focus on how the participants' descriptions differ from a binary understanding of gender, rather than how they conform with it. My methodological approach draws on the perspectives of live (Back and Puwar, 2012) and inventive (Lury and Wakeford, 2012) methods that encourage researchers 1 6 to develop innovative devices engaging the multi-modal and sensorial registers through which participants may recall and describe their own lived experiences (Back and Puwar, 2012). I noticed a comparable methodological interest in fashion studies that probe the embodied experiences of fashion (Granata, 2012;Jenss, 2016;Barry, 2017), and there are some research projects in which I could indeed identify methodologies corresponding to the intentions of live and inventive methods (see Luvaas, 2016;Von Busch, 2016;Woodward, 2008). ...
... In this way, the diagrammatic and collaborative data analysis can focus on how the participants' descriptions differ from a binary understanding of gender, rather than how they conform with it. My methodological approach draws on the perspectives of live (Back and Puwar, 2012) and inventive (Lury and Wakeford, 2012) methods that encourage researchers 1 6 to develop innovative devices engaging the multi-modal and sensorial registers through which participants may recall and describe their own lived experiences (Back and Puwar, 2012). I noticed a comparable methodological interest in fashion studies that probe the embodied experiences of fashion (Granata, 2012;Jenss, 2016;Barry, 2017), and there are some research projects in which I could indeed identify methodologies corresponding to the intentions of live and inventive methods (see Luvaas, 2016;Von Busch, 2016;Woodward, 2008). ...
Article
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This sociological research studies how fashion editors, art directors, and photographers make the fluidity of gender more visible within an industry established on the binary womenswear/menswear. It addresses gender fluid practices as a questioning of the conditions in which relations between body and dress are made systematic. The research has identified some of the restrictions faced when producing gender fluid fashion imagery, and highlighted the alternative solutions that originate from these limitations. This paper proposes to apply live and inventive methodological approaches to fashion studies. The design of my methodology was concerned with its capacity to study a subject still mostly understood through a binary ontology. Consequently, the “Diagrammatic Manifestos” is a research method attentive to the conditions in which relations can be made different, rather than identical, to dominant gender ideals. Throughout the series of interviews, diagrams were operated as analytical devices to graphically reorganize transcripts into manifestos. The diagrams’ forms were made responsive to the differences in each participants’ narrative and reveal how their individual experiences of gender affect the images they produce.
... Sociologists have long documented how methods that were once their distinctive contribution in the project of making sense of the world have been deployed instrumentally to generate seemingly infinite data in the service of power (Savage and Burrows, 2007). This is a process in which methods have become decoupled from the critical evaluation and ethical judgement integral to the sociological craft, further accelerated by the 'frenzied rhythm' of the audit-led research environment (Back and Puwar, 2012). ...
... We managed this central tension in the research by embracing Les Back and Nirmal Puwar's (2012) call to live sociology; that is, for sociologists to reimagine and reclaim the (social) researcher's craft in the context of broader political contexts. This approach calls for us to respond to conditions of rapid change and ongoing contingencies, to inspire 'creative, public and novel modes of doing imaginative and critical sociological research' (Back and Puwar, 2012: 1; see also Back, 2007). This includes making use of the affordances offered by new platforms and technologies in the conduct and communication of social research, and disturbing linear and static understandings of the research process to call for an agile, contingent and collaborative reflexive practice. ...
... We turn now to examine more closely the dynamic, flexible and agile aspects of reflexive practice; how working reflexively on a live and collaborative project entailed constant and conscious changes, developments and responses as our research and Brexit shapeshifted in real time. Live sociology calls for us to rethink how we employ the sociological imagination in the public sphere (Back and Puwar, 2012;Gunaratnam and Back, 2014); reflexive practice extends this to the navigation of new opportunities and technologies, and to consideration of how communicating in 'real time' shapes the research and the production of knowledge. We remind readers that reflexivity should be an enduring practice that is collaborative, responsible, iterative, engaged and creative. ...
Article
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This paper brings reflexivity into conversation with debates about positionality and live sociology to argue for reflexivity to be reimagined as an enduring practice that is collaborative, responsible, iterative, engaged, agile and creative. We elaborate our argument with reference to examples and contemplations drawn from our experiences researching what Brexit means for Britons living in the EU-27 for the BrExpats research project, which was informed from the outset by reflexive practice. We outline three (of a number of) potential strategies for engaging in reflexive practice: reflexive positioning, reflexive navigating and reflexive interpreting or sense-making. We acknowledge that these are not separate actions in practice but are conceptually distinguishable aspects of an ongoing reflexive practice, informed by our understanding of the cognitive relationship between reflexivity and practice theory.
... Digital devices and data have offered new possibilities for social research and the generation of research data (Back & Puwar, 2012;Burrows & Savage, 2014;Marres, 2017;Marres & Gerlitz, 2016;Savage, 2013). In their 'Manifesto for Live Methods', Back and Puwar (2012) encouraged sociologists to question prevailing research conventions and to develop 'empirical devices and probes that produce affects and reactions that re-invent relations to the social and environmental ' (p. ...
... Digital devices and data have offered new possibilities for social research and the generation of research data (Back & Puwar, 2012;Burrows & Savage, 2014;Marres, 2017;Marres & Gerlitz, 2016;Savage, 2013). In their 'Manifesto for Live Methods', Back and Puwar (2012) encouraged sociologists to question prevailing research conventions and to develop 'empirical devices and probes that produce affects and reactions that re-invent relations to the social and environmental ' (p. 9). ...
Article
Following calls to rethink the repertoires of social research and take advantage of the new possibilities opened by digital data and devices, this article discusses the opportunities and challenges of using Facebook Activity Logs (FAL) and Search History (FSH) as digital probes during interviews. Drawing on empirical data, the article outlines the value of using social media features in qualitative research with regard to generating thick data and encouraging people to reflect upon the range of everyday practices captured by the platforms. This article argues, however, that to use social media features and data in interview settings researchers need to carefully identify and examine the different forms of liveliness generated by their use and the ways in which liveliness mediates and affects the research data and the situation of the interview itself. The article contends that critically engaging with the liveliness generated by these types of probes in interview settings will allow researchers to better discern how digital platforms and data can inform social enquiry while simultaneously forming a part of how we know social lives and practices.
... I seek to develop such a programme of work, and offer two principal concepts as starting points. First, I term this process 'painting with data', which means to treat the method not only as a form of data production, as a kind of object or visual elicitation which is now quite well-developed (though still underused) in creative methods research (Back & Puwar, 2012), but also to treat it as a style of analysis, too. Second, I draw on the concept of 'layering', inspired by Jennifer Mason's (2018) use of the term in her book Affinities, but adjusted in order to apply to this particular methodological endeavour. ...
... In broad agreement with this wider concern with political aesthetics, I have sought to understand the painting with data method through an ontological perspective on life that highlights the relational, embodied, affective, sensory, atmospheric, temporal and ecological dimensions of experience (Foster, 2019;Lambert, 2016). Creative methods research has made excellent progress in seeking to expand the range of data production techniques to better capture and represent these qualities of life (Back & Puwar, 2012). And there have been attempts to bring the creative through into all aspects of the research process (Ayrton, 2020) but the imaginative, playful or poetic dimension is still mostly confined to the data production phase, returning researchers to the transcript as the object of analysis and to the extract as the mode of presentation. ...
Article
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In this article I outline an original creative method for qualitative research, namely the painting with data technique. This is a participatory methodology which brings creativity and participation through to the analytical phase of qualitative research. Crucially, I acknowledge but also challenge the dominant aesthetic that currently shapes qualitative research and renders life in a monochromatic palette. The painting with data method evidences an alternative aesthetic to the predominant one and I argue that we can understand this methodology by adapting Jennifer Mason’s concept of ‘layering’ to conceptualise how different aesthetics help us to see the different shapes, forms and moulds that make us, our relationships and our worlds. The process moves away from traditional ways of treating transcribed data, and prioritises addition above extraction; juxtaposition over thematisation; and collaging rather than ordering. This alternative aesthetic for qualitative research offers an evocative form and a conceptual schema through which to interpret the world, providing a route to novel insights, that enlivens the interpretative work of the analyst and offers opportunities to make and witness potent connections.
... They seek to understand how this apparatus has been shaped by, and in turn helped to shape, material, social and historical processes. One strand of work takes research methods as objects of study to understand how they emerged; and what kinds of assumptions about individuals and society these methods have implicitly relied on and helped to materialize when put into practice (Back & Puwar, 2012;Law, 2004Law, , 2009Law & Urry, 2004;Lury & Wakeford, 2012;Ruppert, Law, & Savage, 2013;Savage, 2010Savage, , 2013. 6 For example, Savage (2010) argues that the survey and interview methods that became prominent in Britain after the Second World War, and that were used to investigate social change, were not simply capturing or representing national identities -rather, they were contributing to the remaking of them while at the same time helping to constitute sociology as a discipline. ...
Chapter
Against a background of renewed interest in materiality in the social sciences, this chapter considers what this ‘material turn’ might entail for qualitative research and its ethical practice. The chapter is organized in the following way. I begin by discussing some of the ways in which the material turn is inspiring new ways of conceptualizing and conducting research in the social sciences by highlighting two bodies of work in particular: ‘post-qualitative inquiry’ (Lather, 2015; St Pierre, 2011) and ‘the social life of methods’ (Law, 2004; Savage, 2013). While these studies draw on diverse notions of materiality, they share an interest in the ways in which attention to the material dimensions of research gives rise to new methods and objects of inquiry. This materiality may take the form of the embodied experiences of researchers and research participants, the material artifacts used by participants, the physical settings of investigations, and the tools and devices used in social inquiries. In the second section of the chapter, I discuss in more detail different theoretical conceptualizations of materiality. To Reckwitz’s (2002) three notions – materi- ality as ‘social structures’, ‘symbolic objects’ and ‘material artifacts’ – I add a fourth new materialist understanding of materiality as ‘materialization’. I discuss Barad’s specific conceptualization of materiality as ontologi- cal processes of materialization, and the non- essentialist ontology that this entails. In the third section, I explore Barad’s agential realist metaphysical framework that she elaborates on the basis of her concept of materiality and non-essentialist ontology. I consider how it opens up new and distinctive possibilities for social inquiry and its ethical practice, includ- ing how it makes way for what Barad calls a ‘posthumanist ethics of mattering’. In the fourth section of the chapter, I explore how Barad’s posthumanist ethics can be put into practice through what she calls diffractive practices, and I propose two such practices: ‘diffractive genealogies’ and ‘metaphysi- cal practices’. In the fifth section, I illustrate a posthumanist ethical practice of qualitative research using the Listening Guide feminist method of narrative analysis, a method I have been engaged with for twenty-five years.
... Drugi, pak, smatraju da nove tehnologije mogu pomoći da se razreše neke od najvećih dilema društvenih nauka (Housley et al, 2014). Bek i Puvar blagonaklono gledaju na ono što donosi revolucija masovnih podataka zalažući se za razvoj "žive" sociologije koja na kreativan, javan ali i kritički način koristi dostupne "žive podatke", nasuprot "mrtve" sociologije koja upotrebljava zastarele "zombi" koncepte (Back, 2012;Back & Puwar, 2012). ...
Article
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The paper critically examines the attitude of the mainstream sociology towards the study of big data in social sciences. Content analysis of the scientific papers published in the top-tier sociological journals ranked on the Thomson Reuters Impact Factor ssci list (2000-2017) shows that, in the observed period, the issue of big data was largely neglected. This topic is still rather invisible in the mainstream sociological thought, although it draws a lot of attention outside the academia. The analysis of big data within mainstream sociology is dominated by a critical perspective, while the application of the big data analytics is quite rare. In the concluding section, the importance of the big data study for sociology is emphasised. Moreover, it is pointed out at the risk of auto-marginalization in case of neglecting the ?tectonic? changes induced by the big data analytics in the space once dominated by the social sciences.
... In crafting this special issue, we aimed to push back on hegemonic modes of knowledge production in the academy, which have often privileged written text as the sole channel through which we can collect, analyze represent and disseminate research. We also seek to contribute theory in relation to sound, rather than simply how sonic methods and techniques can be incorporated into qualitative research, following Back and Puwar's (2012) call to mobilize sound and listening as a way to re-imagine modes of social research and develop social methods that are collaborative, imaginative and lively. Thus, we sought pieces that were generated from documentary studies and artistic-led practice, and those that are conceptualized as being anchored in qualitative methodology more broadly. ...
... Others have advocated "polyphonic methods" in an effort to extend more convivial and caring practices of listening that resonate with these more experimental methods, opening up a "sonic geography of voice" and a renewed focus on the politics of speaking and listening (Kanngieser 2011). Likewise, Back and Puwar (2012), in their provocative call for a "live sociology," emphasize the need to rethink the sociological craft and forms of representation that are creative, imaginative and playful. Their manifesto arises directly from debates over empirical sociology's methodological crisis, which results from the emergence of sophisticated information-based capitalism and digital culture, discussed above. ...
Article
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This article considers the manner in which visual criminology has flourished in the current moment, while exploring its foundational relations and points of distinction as a form of critical criminology. In particular, we devote attention to the relationship of images to control, power and resistance at a time defined by the spectacular proliferation of media. We also discuss new and recent directions in visual criminology that enlarge our understandings of both critical and visual work, including forensic architecture and sensory criminology.
... They argue that social science methods are unable to organise 'lively' sources such as 'social' transactional data, which are now routinely collected, processed and analysed by a wide variety of private and public institutions and represent a coming crisis for empirical sociology's jurisdiction for knowing social relations. But new sources of data are not only understood as a crisis but also a provocation to the discipline to invent methods that can adapt, re-purpose and engage with digital media (Adkins andLury 2009, Back andPuwar 2012). ...
Article
The working paper is a report on an ESRC-funded project, Socialising Big Data, that sought to address problematic conceptions of Big Data in popular discourse such as the 'data deluge' and the tendency to reduce the term to definitions such as the oft-cited '3 Vs'. Instead, building on how social scientists have conceived of things, methods and data as having social and cultural lives, the project sought to identify the normative, political and technical imperatives and choices that come to shape Big Data at various moments in its social lives. Recognising that Big Data involves distributed practices across a range of fields, the project experimented with collaboratories as a method for bringing together and engaging with practitioners across three different domains-genomics, national statistics and waste management. In this way it explored how relations between data are also simultaneously relations between people and that it is through such relations that a shared literacy and social framework for Big Data can be forged.
... From climate change to vaccines, they explore how problems, solutions and interventions are entangled and dynamically reformulated. Back and Puwar (2012) take this up differently in their call for 'live sociology'. Amongst some eleven propositions, they highlight that one meaning of live sociology is to engage with the possibilities of adapting and repurposing data generated by online platforms for sociological research that are 'real-time' and 'live' investigations of social worlds. ...
Article
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We develop the concept of methods as ‘forces of subjectivation’ in relation to experiments we have encountered in a study of government methods for generating official population statistics. These experiments problematise the subjects of traditional methods based on paper questionnaires and offer new digital technologies and data sources as possible solutions. We reflect on these experiments in relation to recent work on sociological and digital research methods as inventive and live. What this work identifies in relation to questions of research methods we take up to think about government methods in two ways. One concerns how government method experiments offered as solutions to problematic subjects, once put into action, change initial problem formulations and are inventive of new ones. Secondly, they are also inventive of their subjects who do not pre-exist but come into being through the agential capacities that methods configure. Both aspects of methods, we argue, are the result of the interactions and dynamics between human and technological actors, the outcomes of which cannot be settled in advance.
... Like ethnographic film, multimodal digital ethnography can be leveraged to create "spaces analogous to those we experience in everyday life, as we sample visual and other sensory information" (Marks in Pink, 2015: 140). The sensorial possibilities of multimodal storytelling coupled with multilinear features can be used to represent dynamic social processes that are often "open, processual, nonlinear, and constantly on the move" (Adkins and Lury, 2009: 16;Back and Puwar, 2012). As Dicks et al. (2005) note, the "journey" through multimedia, multilinear digital texts seems analogous to the ethnographers' own journeys through the social world. ...
Article
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Ethnography may have a unique capacity to capture the attention of non-academic publics, but if it remains tied to conventional publication and dissemination strategies, this capacity will remain unrealized. This article examines the possibilities and challenges of appropriating digital storytelling for public ethnography. To do so, we consider how two key features of digital storytelling platforms—multimodality and multilinearity—can help ethnographers make public ethnography. We show how these features can be used by ethnographers to publicize and politicize ethnographic accounts and translate descriptive and theory-driven ethnography for non-traditional audiences. Making effective use of multimodality and multilinearity has practical and epistemological implications. Appropriating digital storytelling for public ethnography recasts how ethnographers use theory, create and configure ethnographic data, deploy interpretive and evaluative schema, and structure accounts. Though challenging and potentially risky, we contend that if ethnographers want to make a difference, they should experiment with making ethnography differently.
... Em resposta às previsões pessimistas do futuro da sociologia esboçadas por escritores tais como Burrows e Savage, Back e Puwar (BACK, 2012;BACK;PUWAR, 2012) convoca-se uma 'sociologia viva' para lidar com o 'dado vivo'. Por esse termo quer-se dizer formas criativas, imaginativas, divertidas e inéditas de fazer sociologia que são também públicas e críticas, muitas das quais usam tecnologias digitais. ...
Article
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p>A subdisciplina de sociologia digital tem, recentemente, começado a atrair a atenção dos/as sociólogos/as, particularmente no Reino Unido. Nesse artigo, eu irei revisar algumas das características mais interessantes que têm surgido até agora no corpo acadêmico da sociologia digital. Alguns podem contestar argumentando que a sociologia digital é simplesmente um novo nome para um tipo de pesquisa sociológica já há muito tempo estabelecida, interessada em tecnologias online e computadorizadas. Contudo, meu argumento é que a sociologia digital, como tem se desenvolvido particularmente no Reino Unido, se distingue por desenvolver uma abordagem teórica distinta, que levanta questões importantes no que diz respeito à natureza da pesquisa social e da sociologia como uma disciplina e uma prática na era digital. Nesse sentido, a sociologia digital tem implicações mais amplas que simplesmente o estudo de tecnologias digitais.</p
... Nowadays, it is not only a question of methodological principle that addresses social researchers, but also the evergrowing relevance of the kind of data used, the information contained therein, the possible multilayers of reality which they lead to, and the undeniable need for integration between these pieces of reality to build ever more complete paths of knowledge. It should also be noted that the crossing of the quantitative-qualitative dichotomy is directly and indirectly supported by perspectives such as those of "live sociology" (Back and Puwar 2012) and of "punk sociology" (Beer 2014). They try to imagine, and direct to at the same time, the development of sociology in the digital world through new, even heterodox forms, compared to consolidated approaches. ...
Book
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This book includes thirty-one selected studies that have been published in various ATINER academic journals since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. All of these studies have undergone a double-blind peer review process and have been accepted for publication. These studies cover research related to COVID-19 from a variety of research fields that include Health; Mass Media and Communication; Sociοlogy; Business and Economics; Tourism; Education; and Law.
... In proposing this new term, I am making a theoretical intervention which contributes to urban studies in bringing scholarship on storytelling and spaces of encounter into dialogue with philosophical debates around Benjamin's work on tradition and history, and contemporary utopian studies. Methodologically, through focusing on visual and tactile artefacts as forms of storytelling and a key form of knowledge production, this article contributes to work on multisensorial methods as a way of understanding everyday urban life (Back & Puwar, 2012;Edwards, 2012;Keith, 2003;Rhys-Taylor, 2017;Tsilimpounidi, 2017). This article may be pertinent to work on sharing discontinuous histories of resistance in the context of rising authoritarianism, and in particular to the remembrance of urban uprisings. ...
Article
This article explores creative remembrance practices within the 39 and 40th commemoration of the 1973 Athens Polytechnic uprising. It draws on interviews, cultural artefacts, and fieldnotes to focus on tactile forms of storytelling with an attentiveness to their potential to generate different affective encounters in a context of prolonged crisis, and rising neo-fascist, structural and police violence. The article discusses the ways in which the annual coming together on the site of the uprising creates a meaningful, intergenerational space of encounter, a time for reflection and sharing discontinuous histories of resistance, oppression, and solidarity. I propose that the specificities of the annual coming together can be considered a “space of transmission,” a concept that brings recent scholarship in urban geography on storytelling and spaces of encounter into dialogue with Walter Benjamin's work on tradition. This article contributes to urban studies through highlighting the importance of sustaining “spaces of transmission” in the context of wider situated practices of everyday urban politics.
... In reconceptualising and redeploying reflexivity, it must not be a "personal attribute, character disposition or acquired skill, but rather, ethically, it is an existential struggle that is at the heart of any practice that would involve generating knowledge about other people" (Rhodes andCarlsen 2018, 1304). Here, I join critical feminist postcolonial researchers (e.g., Back and Puwar 2012;Smith 1999), in reflecting and deliberating on the politics and ethics of craft research practices (Bell and Willmott 2020). I turn to Judith Butler's work (2016, 2020) on vulnerability to explore what it may offer in the way of an ethico-political imperative to examine social suffering, including whose suffering is deemed grievable and who is denied grievability. ...
Preprint
This chapter reflects on the possibility of vulnerability as praxis in studies of social suffering. Drawing on research examining the community-based palliative care movement in Kerala, I discuss what it might mean to focus on vulnerability as an ethico-political imperative in our research process. Specifically, I explore how from a condition of vulnerability, we may adopt three modes of praxis: 1) vulnerability as susceptibility, which allows openness to silence and challenges epistemic certitude, 2) vulnerability as collective care, which acknowledges the role of time and generosities, and 3) vulnerability as learning to be affected by difference, where one learns from the wounding and the unsettled habitations that arise over the course of fieldwork. Keywords: Vulnerability, Judith Butler, social suffering, palliative care, qualitative research methods, feminist research methods
... There is a long history in ethnography of researchers 'walking alongside' participants in order to observe, experience, and make sense of everyday practices (for example Evans and Jones, 2011;Carpiano, 2009;Anderson, 2004;Kusenbach, 2003;Reed, 2002); and develop live methods (Back and Puwar, 2012;Clark and Emmel, 2010) and mobile methods (Büscher et al., 2010;Büscher and Urry, 2009). Walking interviews were preferable over static interviews in this instance for a number of reasons: the method allows participants to potentially have a greater degree of control over the research process, particularly in deciding where to take the researcher (Clark and Emmel, 2010). ...
Article
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The growth of citizen science and participatory science, where non-professional scientists voluntarily participate in scientific activities, raises questions around the ownership and interpretation of data, issues of data quality and reliability, and new kinds of data literacy. Citizen social science (CSS), as an approach that bridges these fields, calls into question the way in which research is undertaken, as well as who can collect data, what data can be collected, and what such data can be used for. This article outlines a case study—the Empty Houses Project—to explore how CSS plays out in practice, and to reflect on the opportunities and challenges it presents. The Empty Houses Project was set up to investigate how citizens could be mobilised to collect data about empty houses in their local area, so as to potentially contribute towards tackling a pressing policy issue. The study shows how the possibilities of CSS exceed the dominant view of it as a new means of creating data repositories. Rather, it considers how the data produced in CSS is an epistemology, and a politics, not just a realist tool for analysis.
... All these platform functions, options, and settings frame our principal object of study, the video itself of the disrupted online meetings, classes and events. While a 'real-time' digital methods study (Back & Puwar, 2012) of Zoombombing could have focused directly on the Zoom platform, our study of recorded Zoombombing videos hosted on YouTube offers the additional benefit of understanding how such seemingly fleeting moments have prolonged the phenomenon in the form of curated YouTube compilations. In other words, the choice of YouTube once again helps us to understand how the affordances of the platform have contributed to the remediation of the Zoombomb as a media object, further qualifying the ongoing disruptive nature of Zoomboming before (online pre-planning of attacks), during (on Zoom) and after the attack itself (Zoom video hosted on YouTube). ...
Article
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Using a digital methods analysis, the following article conducts a cross-platform study of the emergent “Zoombombing” phenomenon alongside COVID-19 and the concomitant on-lining of professional and public life. This empirical study seeks to provide further insight to media frames characterizing Zoombombing at the outbreak of the pandemic, providing further insight into Zoombombing as a practice, how related actions act as an extension of longer histories and practices of online harassment, and the role that various platforms play in the phenomenon’s unfolding. By interrogating these points of departure, our study sheds light not only on Zoombombing as a cultural practice, but also how these acts manifest within and across a range of Internet platforms.
... The sensewalk on Istiklal Street is a mobile ethnographic method that is part of the area's liveness and sensuousness. We know the bodily movement and attention to senses would collaborate well while walking (Back and Puwar, 2012). We say people would evaluate spatial qualities as a combination of different senses (Gibson, 1966;Rasmussen, 2001;Pallasmaa, 2005a;Middleton, 2010). ...
Article
The 'sensory' plays a vital role in examining human and world interrelations if often overlooked. This thesis aims to have a new understanding of Istiklal Street, Istanbul, through the area's sensory qualities. The research is ground on a 'phenomenological' approach and intends to move beyond the urban visual experiences by looking into the area's multi-sensory experiences. The practice of 'sensewalking' has been used in research to cope with visually-oriented urban assessments. This investigation, which is structured with a qualitative lens to discover the Street's sensory aspects, would be worthwhile primarily for the fields of architecture, urban sensory design. As we see, the changing socio-cultural structure, economic and political movements, law regulations, innovative transportation and communication activities have resulted in a controversial modification of Istanbul in recent years. On Istiklal Street, Istanbul's culture, entertainment, tourism focus, many buildings were restored, moved, converted, closed, and demolished after the 1990s. All have been significant elements in terms of the qualitative value of this area. Many debates have been put forward by social scientists, urban planners, and architects about Istiklal Street's transformation. Except for the field of academic discussions, the enormous amounts of discourses in social media have shown that the multi-layered socio-cultural and architectural structure of Istiklal Street has been changing dramatically in a controversial way. This thesis supports the idea that while Istiklal Street has changed, the transformation has not been only spatial, socio-cultural, or economic. The research claims that the sensory experiences which have great importance in terms of intangible qualities of this area have begun to lose their distinctive features. Therefore, the research has focused on the individually sensed and assessed sensory qualities on the Street beyond the visual experiences. With the way of 'mapping', collected data of the sensewalking-based fieldworks has been presented. As the primary assessment, the research claims that Istiklal Street's sensory dimensions deserve to be recorded and decoded as expeditiously as possible to observe the sensory reflections of transformations in the area. The research findings showed that Istiklal Street's latest modifications and adjustments had arguably influenced this place's sensory qualities. The result says sensory stimuli of the place are connected, and the sensory elements create a specific sensory ambience. Moreover, the sensory interaction in the place is infected by the physical or spatial changes in the area. This research offers convincing evidence for the argument that the sensory composition of the urban place should not be considered separately from its non-visual characteristics. Istiklal Street's sensory consideration needs to be embedded in further investigations and applications. Increasing awareness about the distinctive sensory qualities and Sensemarks of urban places is worthwhile. The inhabitants' sensory urban experiences provide new insights to comprehend urban places. The research method, ‘sensewalking’, produced an unconventional, novel attitude in the context of qualitative-based urban studies to see the sensory reflections of the physical urban transformations. The research's findings opened creative and productive ways for architecture, urban design, planning, urban ethnography, and intangible heritage studies. Keywords—Istiklal Street, Istanbul, Sense, Sensory Experiences, Sensewalking, Sensory Mapping.
... There are two further reasons that may have given rise to this revival of content analysis in the digital scenario. First, the crossing of the dichotomy is directly and indirectly supported by new perspectives, such as those of "live sociology" (Back & Puwar, 2012) and of "punk sociology" (Beer, 2014). In practice, this has the advantage of low costs, in terms of both money and time. ...
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The explosion of platform social data as digital secondary data, collectable through sophisticated and automatized query systems or algorithms, makes it possible to accumulate huge amounts of dense and miscellaneous data. The challenge for social researchers becomes how to extract meaning and not only trends in a quantitative and in a qualitative manner. Through the application of a digital mixed content analysis design, we present the potentiality of a hybrid digitalized approach to social content applied to a very tricky question: the recognition of risk perception during the first phase of COVID-19 in the Italian Twittersphere. The contribution of our article to mixed methods research consists in the extension of the existing definitions of content analysis as a mixed approach by combining hermeneutic and automated procedures, and by creating a design model with vast application potential, especially when applied to the digital scenario.
Article
Theorisation of culture is often absent from research on production in the creative and cultural sector. Further, cultural production has been largely untouched by the insights of the cultural economy approach. Culturalisation is a means of addressing the question of what constitutes culture and thus a cultural (economy) approach. It is the process by which culture and cultural production combine in the ‘operationalisation of the real.’ Culturalisation underpins much scholarship in this journal by posing the (economic) real as a problem of definition in order to illustrate the operations involved in its temporary resolution. The implications of this position need further addressing. There is a feedback between culture as a problem of definition and a cultural approach. Devices can interrogate the relationship between processes of cultural definition and the conceptual parameters of a cultural economy approach. Workshopping, projects and events are put forward as cultural devices emerging from a 10-month ethnography of literary performance in Bristol, England. This illustration shows firstly, how culturalisation occurs in a designated cultural sector to contingently realise culture; and secondly, the implicit logic of cultural economy as culturalisation, typified by the device as method, so as to open a debate concerning its implications.
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Nos últimos anos os pesquisadores das ciências sociais têm desenvolvido um crescente interesse em expandir seus objetos de estudo, em ampliar novas áreas do conhecimento e suas específicas problemáticas. As diferentes temáticas de investigação despertam novas formas de pesquisar. Composta por nove artigos, a presente coleção apresenta um leque de questões metodológicas suscitadas por diferentes vertentes teóricas e temáticas de pesquisas. Ela está voltada, principalmente, para revisitar e questionar algumas pressuposições que estão subjacentes nas pesquisas contemporâneas sobre fenômenos sociais. Foi pensando nisso que intitulamos de "Novas fronteiras metodológicas nas ciências sociais". Destinada a estudantes e pesquisadores interessados em pensar a construção do conhecimento em ciências sociais, os diferentes capítulos pretendem inspirar práticas de pesquisas mais do que prescrever procedimentos metodológicos.
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This paper draws on ethnographic data about Filipino migrant domestic workers’ perceptions of and responses to the use of surveillance cameras in the home to intervene in recent debates about surveillance, care and social control. On the one hand, our participants disclose what we refer to as the gendered ironies of care and control. Digital surveillance practices in the home not only produce tactics for evading control but also reduce the capacity of migrant workers to deliver the best possible care that is ostensibly the basis for the deployment of new forms of watching. On the other hand, the responses we document here speak to critiques of the Foucauldian vision of surveillance derived from the panopticon that are ‘abstract, disembodied and distrustful’. In contrast to the Benthamite reading of God’s all seeing eye, Filipino migrant workers invoke a relational vision which speaks to connectedness, trust and the possibility of mutual concern. While the use of covert surveillance cameras especially was perceived as undermining the trust necessary for care relationships, some respondents used the devices to provoke face to face encounters deemed necessary to re-establish relations of trust.
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Based on our experience in the project 'The Importance of Being Digital: Exploring Digital Academic Practices and Methods' , we narrate our different trajectories of engagement with digital methods and digital practices. Inspired by emerging scholarship that looks at prototypes as a cultural and epistemic form, we delve into an exploration of methods (both traditional and digital) as prototypes open ended , non-instrumental explorative devices-for our knowledge processes. By opening up the craft of our research we illustrate and discuss what 'digital ways of knowing'-ways of knowing inspired by digital practices-might look like, and which reconfigurations of knowledge practices and trajectories they could enable. This article reflects on our research experience during the project 'The importance of being digital: exploring digital academic practices and methods' 1 , initially aimed at investigating the role and the potential of digital technologies, social media and digital methods for academic work. During the project we organized two training activities with the aim of creating the practical conditions to engage a group of social scientists within our research and to gather-through focus groups and interviews-empirical materials to analyse expectations and utopias, anxieties and disbeliefs, regarding the contribution of digital technologies and tools to academic work and to knowledge creation.
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This paper focuses on the figure of the flâneur and sets out to explore how the practice of flânerie might offer social researchers a different way of engaging with digital worlds. It is articulated around two main interests: the relationship of the flâneur to digital worlds and the theoretical and methodological implications of envisioning the practice of flânerie as a way of engaging with digital worlds. This paper contends that flânerie could inform and creatively enrich our practices as social researchers in two ways: enabling us to approach differently the exploration of digital worlds and leading us to investigate phenomena that might have remained concealed through more conventional methodologies. Flânerie, we argue, offers the possibility of a more open and explorative approach to digital research. Our paper outlines implications of positioning flânerie as a methodological practice and reflects on potential of flânerie in the exploration of digital worlds.
Article
Computational science is intrinsically interdisciplinary; the methods of one scientist may be the objects of study for another. This essay is an attempt to develop an interdisciplinary framework that can analyse research into methods as a distinctive kind of epistemic orientation in science, drawing on two examples from fieldwork with a group of specialists in computer modelling. Where methods for simulation are objects of research in their own right, they are distinct in kind to the objects of simulation, and raise a different set of sociological and philosophical questions. Drawing on the historian Hans-Jorg Rheinberger’s theory of epistemic objects, I ask: what kind of epistemic object does a method make, and how is research organized around it? I argue that methods become objects of research as purposeful things, in terms of their enrolment in the intentional structure of the experimental system. And, as methods research tends to be interventionary, in the sense that its mode of study creates and modifies its objects, we therefore observe a practical recursion, a dynamic of scientific reinvention, a ‘tuning’ of experimental systems that sheds light on the form of these systems’ historicity, their differential self-reproduction.
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This chapter examines the queer temporalities of the internet. Our starting point is that space cannot be adequately theorised without reference to time. Geographers have theorised the spatial structure of internet infrastructures, but they have paid less attention to the temporal structure of these systems. Contemporary queer theory provides analyses of temporality as a critique of the heteronormative-reproductive times of state-capitalism, which also characterise imaginaries of digital systems. Instead of the internet as a necessarily futuristic invention, we demonstrate the necessity of thinking through the concrete histories and embodied presents of the internet. We first conceptualise internet infrastructures as historical anachronism—evidence of the continuing inequalities of colonialism. Then we examine how queer presence online can lend itself to a troubling of modern temporalities.
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This study concerns the usage of foetal ultrasounds, more specifically those produced during the 5th month of pregnancy within the routine checks of any pregnancy in France. Interestingly, more and more parents are posting short films on YouTube of their baby-to-be using the medical images produced during such antenatal examinations. This study therefore analyses a set of 108 YouTube posts among the thousands available to understand the social implications of such posts on the unborn. Uncannily, it appears that these videos constitute not only the first pages of the biographies of a girl or a boy but also the autobiographical tales of a mother or father waiting for the birth of a daughter or son. The close reading of 31 archetypical videos reveals how those who post such videos see 5th-month ultrasound imagery as a means for them to prepare, not just for the birth of a child, but for the birth of a girl or a boy and simultaneously to prepare to become, not just parents, but the father or mother of a son or a daughter.
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The article draws on recent debates about empirical sociology’s lack of imagination in order to champion the strength and virtue of a peculiar type of close, but also thin description as a central mode of social scientific observation. A case in point for the evocation of a descriptive sociology is Andrew Abbott’s neologism lyrical sociology. Examining the lyrical-sociological approach, the article claims that the concept presents a distinct heuristic for the elicitation of a more colorful and vivid sociological imagination, namely, an emotional imagination in the empirical toolbox of the descriptive sociologist. After the article considers the potential of description as a specific type of sociological representation and thus discusses the concept of the social imaginary from a methodological point of departure, the article suggests three vantage points to qualify the lyrical mode as a sociological descriptive: First, it presents its central properties, thereby referring to the notion of a so-called “descriptive turn”; second, it examines the heuristic value of lyrical sociology. And third, the article juxtaposes lyrical sociology and the compelling work of French-American anthropologist Didier Fassin to evaluate the potential but also the limits of lyricism within the sociological craft.
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Research with communities, even co-produced research with a commitment to social justice, can be limited by its expression in conventional disciplinary language and format. Vibrant, warm and sometimes complex encounters with community partners become contained through the gesture of representation. In this sense, 'writing up' can actually become a kind of slow violence towards participants, projects and ourselves. As a less conventional and containable form of expression, poetry offers an alternative to the power games of researching 'on' communities and writing it up. It is excessive in the sense that it goes beyond the cycles of reduction and representation, allowing the expression of subjective (and perhaps sometimes even contradictory) impressions from participants. In this cowritten paper we explore poetry as a social research method through subjective testimony and in the light of our Connected Communities-funded projects (Imagine, Threads of Time and Taking Yourself Seriously), where poetry as method came to the fore as a way of hearing and representing voices differently.
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Background : Prior to undertaking a study looking at the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic upon lived experiences of hospice services in the West Midlands, we sought to identify the range of issues that hospice service users and providers faced between March 2020 and July 2021, and to provide a report that can be accessed and understood by all interested stakeholders. Methods : We undertook a collaborative multi-stakeholder approach for scoping the range of potential issues and synthesising knowledge. This involved a review of available literature; a focus group with hospice stakeholders; and a collaborative knowledge exchange panel. Results : The literature on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on hospices remains limited, but it is developing a picture of a service that has had to rapidly adapt the way it provides care and support to its service users, during a period when it faced many fundamental challenges to established ways of providing these services. Conclusions : The impacts of many of the changes on hospices have not been fully assessed. It is also not known what the effects upon the quality of care and support are for those with life-limiting conditions and those that care for them. We found that the pandemic has presented a new normative and service context in which quality of care and life itself was valued that is, as yet, poorly understood.
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Digital media time is commonly described as ‘real-time’. But what does this term refer to? How is ‘real-time’ made, managed and experienced? This article explores these questions, drawing on interviews with UK-based digital media professionals. Its specific concern is with how accounts of the time of digital media indicate a particular, yet supple, temporality, which emphasises ‘the now’. I draw on current literature that explores how real-time is a temporality capable of being stretched and condensed, or variously compressed and paced. While much of this literature focuses on the technological fabrication of real-time, I explore how ‘the now’ is produced through the interplay between human and non-human practices. Through discussion of the interviews, the article concentrates on social, cultural and affective dimensions of ‘the now’, fleshing out more technologically focused work and contributing to understanding of a prevalent way in which time is organised in contemporary digital societies.
Article
Embracing the manifesto for a ‘live’ sociology, I included portraiture into the research design of an ethnographic study into women’s lived experiences of French suburbia and organised an exhibition entitled Habitantes d’Hier and d’Aujourd’hui: exposition sociologique et photographique. This was a personal project in the neighbourhood of my youth and was motivated by the intention to shine some light on the invisible stories of women living in lower-middle and middle-income suburbs in France. In this article, I reflect on the use of portraiture for the possibility it offers in capturing the ethnographic encounter as well as in giving saliency and offering a visual representation of the sociological analysis. I also discuss the exhibition of these portraits as a moment of conviviality grounded in the endeavour of writing differently from hegemonic modes of academic communication and dissemination allowing for a sharing and sharpening of the sociological imagination. It represents an opportunity to think beyond some of the more neoliberal imperatives that govern academia today and shape our sociological craft. I argue for the value of creating a moment of conviviality, that is a space challenging modes of dissemination, engagement and even impact to some extent, as well as modes of knowledge production: broadly opening up more possibilities for a truly public sociology to continue to exist.
Article
Using an adapted version of auto-driven photo-elicitation, this paper examines how young women garner digital body capital on Instagram, with a particular focus on their embodied understandings of health and fitness. In total, nine young women (aged 20–24) enrolled in kinesiology programmes at Canadian universities participated in this research. We found their Instagram practices to be complex, paradoxical and multi-layered. We argue that this is because Instagram understandings, experiences and practices transpire within a complexity of relationships between bodies, technologies and discourses. Notwithstanding this complexity, we identified four informal ‘rules’ that govern the acquisition of body capital on Instagram. These rules include: showing the body; being vainglorious without being vainglorious; enhancing but not editing your pictures; and finally, showcasing a healthy and active lifestyle. We conclude the paper by arguing for a methodological approach to digital media, more specifically social media, that accounts for the myriad of factors that shape Instagram experiences, practices and meanings as a way of accessing the space between the digital, human and discursive.
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The once ‘new’ sociology of childhood demanded that we consider children in the present tense, rather than interpreting them through developmental, future-oriented frameworks. Drawing on the conceptual resources of queer theory and especially Bond Stockton’s (The Queer Child, or Growing Up Sideways in the Twentieth Century, Duke University Press, Durham and London, 2009) challenge to imagine children as potentially ‘growing sideways’ rather than always ‘growing up’, this paper uses a single ethnographic example to explore how narratives are forged collaboratively in a research context. The paper elaborates two sideways swerves, through which it is possible to see tensions between dominant future-oriented narratives of childhood and the more situated narratives of a particular child—characterised in this case by nostalgia and attachment to the past. The chapter offers an evocative account of how children’s narratives are context specific, collaboratively generated and always exist in relation to narratives about childhood.
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This chapter presents a practitioner-research study of criticality development in a five-week Pre-sessional academic English course, involving eight students and the lecturer (myself), at a UK partner university in Mainland China. The study begins with an exploration of criticality in the light of the literature on Critical English for Academic Purposes (CEAP), critical pedagogy, critical thinking, and critical theory. The aim of the research was to identify signs of criticality in what we did. Data collected included semi-structured interviews; students’ written reflections on learning; students’ reflective paintings; and video-recorded student talk about each other’s artwork. A conventional content analysis of the data was conducted, revealing three main overarching themes: being in charge; working with others; and socio-cultural awareness. In turn, these served as the basis on which to identify signs of criticality. The main signs of criticality include students’ enquiries into their own epistemic doubts; dialogue for understanding and joint enquiry; and developing awareness of the constructed nature of knowledge and socio-cultural discourses and practices, and of struggles in the performance of difference. The study contributes to understanding of the nature of criticality and of how to develop it in EAP contexts. The study shows the value to EAP of a broader understanding of criticality with contributions from CEAP, critical pedagogy, critical thinking, and critical theory.
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This pilot study explores the use of an arts-based design to record the experience of a Shared Reading workshop. There is considerable evidence of the effectiveness of Shared Reading as a support for well-being across a wide range of situations and settings, and studies have suggested that this literature-based intervention may have the potential to support both thinking and feeling. However, describing the personal and emotional responses that provoke the impact of Shared Reading is a challenge. The capture of the discussion occurring during this pilot workshop is made visual using both words and pictures, and this ‘capture’ is then synthesized and an evocation is created using the medium of film. This article discusses the process and the effectiveness of this arts-based approach as evidenced during data collection, in interpretation and again in dissemination, and implications for further use of this methodology are explored.
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This article contributes to literatures on sociological by advocating for ‘playing’ with the concept of slow methods. Slow methods include a reflexive disposition towards the unfolding of social life in ordinary spaces (dwelling), the use of drawing as an embodied tool for understanding this unfolding (doodling) and the combination of these approaches into writing which deliberately seeks to evoke the liveness of the social world (describing). It draws on an ethnography of a joint-use public-academic library and several scenes selected from its fieldwork. I make three arguments: first, I argue for analogue methods to compliment digitally focussed live methods. Second, I explore the value of slow methods for being drawn into a scene and drawn to see its micro-happenings, particularly in spaces where the social world unfolds in mundane and uneven ways. Third, I argue the approach allows ‘shy researchers’ to engage attentively and reflexively in the field.
Article
Using a GoPro harnessed to the body of participants, we sent the camera into the sea, in order to explore how swimming under an open sky makes people feel about themselves and the natural world. Giving people GoPro cameras to record their swims and make pre- and post-swim video diaries, we aimed to investigate the rejuvenating effects of cold water and the connections between swimming and wellbeing. We are interested in the ways in which wellbeing is experienced, understood, and constructed in situ as an unfolding event. Here, we reflect on the methodological challenge of conducting research on the move and in water. We suggest that the technological innovation of the GoPro, a lightweight, small, rugged and, most essentially for us, waterproof camera, provides new means of addressing methodological challenges, while the combination of this technology with the video diary method enables the development of a multidimensional and multisensory account that mixes together talk and action, helping us to develop more immersive and attentive ways of doing research through which we can come to understand different ways of being in the water.
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This paper is concerned with the power of social science and its methods. We first argue that social inquiry and its methods are productive: they (help to) make social realities and social worlds. They do not simply describe the world as it is, but also enact it. Second, we suggest that, if social investigation makes worlds, then it can, in some measure, think about the worlds it wants to help to make. It gets involved in 'ontological politics'. We then go on to show that its methods - and its politics - are still stuck in, and tend to reproduce, nineteenth-century, nation-state-based politics. How might we move social science from the enactment of nineteenth-century realities? We argue that social-and-physical changes in the world are - and need to be - paralleled by changes in the methods of social inquiry. The social sciences need to re-imagine themselves, their methods, and their 'worlds' if they are to work productively in the twenty-first century where social relations appear increasingly complex, elusive, ephemeral, and unpredictable. There are various possibilities: perhaps, for instance, there is need for 'messy' methods. But in the present paper we explore some implications of complexity theory to see whether and how this might provide productive metaphors and theories for enacting twenty-first-century realities.
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This ar ticle argues that in an age of knowing capitalism, sociologists have not adequately thought about the challenges posed to their expertise by the proliferation of `social' transactional data which are now routinely collected, processed and analysed by a wide variety of private and public institutions. Drawing on British examples, we argue that whereas over the past 40 years sociologists championed innovative methodological resources, notably the sample survey and the in-depth interviews, which reasonably allowed them to claim distinctive expertise to access the `social' in powerful ways, such claims are now much less secure. We argue that both the sample survey and the in-depth interview are increasingly dated research methods, which are unlikely to provide a robust base for the jurisdiction of empirical sociologists in coming decades. We conclude by speculating how sociology might respond to this coming crisis through taking up new interests in the `politics of method'.
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A new and innovative account of British sociology's intellectual origins that uses previously unknown archival resources to show how the field's forgotten roots in a late nineteenth and early twentieth-century debate about biology can help us understand both its subsequent development and future potential.
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In this powerful, compassionate work, one of anthropology's most distinguished ethnographers weaves together rich fieldwork with a compelling critical analysis in a book that will surely make a signal contribution to contemporary thinking about violence and how it affects everyday life. Veena Das examines case studies including the extreme violence of the Partition of India in 1947 and the massacre of Sikhs in 1984 after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. In a major departure from much anthropological inquiry, Das asks how this violence has entered "the recesses of the ordinary" instead of viewing it as an interruption of life to which we simply bear witness. Das engages with anthropological work on collective violence, rumor, sectarian conflict, new kinship, and state and bureaucracy as she embarks on a wide-ranging exploration of the relations among violence, gender, and subjectivity. Weaving anthropological and philosophical reflections on the ordinary into her analysis, Das points toward a new way of interpreting violence in societies and cultures around the globe. The book will be indispensable reading across disciplinary boundaries as we strive to better understand violence, especially as it is perpetrated against women.
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In January 1937, Mass-Observation was launched in the letters columns of the New Statesman with an appeal for voluntary observers to take part in ‘an anthropology of our own people’.1 Similar appeals in highercirculation newspapers such as the News Chronicle and the Daily Express attracted responses from across society but, as Tom Jeffery notes, far and away the largest identifiable distinct social grouping in the project’s original membership was from the lower middle class.2 This chapter investigates the dissemination of the ideas of imagism and surrealism by the Mass-Observation founders to its lower-middle-class membership as an example of the interaction between modernist techniques and middlebrow culture, which transformed that culture in the late 1930s and contributed to the wider socio-cultural changes that took place in mid-twentieth-century Britain. Following the work of Kristin Bluemel, this interaction, by which individual modernist consciousness accommodated itself to the modern mass values of the twentieth-century world and thereby both expressed and became part of the realization of those values, may be described as intermodern.3 Therefore, this chapter will also seek to map out the relationship between the critical terms ‘middlebrow’, ‘modernism’ and ‘intermodernism’.
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First historical account of the development of social science research methods in Britain Accessibly and engagingly written Sheds new light on the huge social changes experienced in Britain over the last 70 years Identities and Social Change in Britain since 1940 examines how, between 1940 and 1970 British society was marked by the imprint of the academic social sciences in profound ways which have an enduring legacy on how we see ourselves. It focuses on how interview methods and sample surveys eclipsed literature and the community study as a means of understanding ordinary life. The book shows that these methods were part of a wider remaking of British national identity in the aftermath of decolonisation in which measures of the rational, managed nation eclipsed literary and romantic ones. It also links the emergence of social science methods to the strengthening of technocratic and scientific identities amongst the educated middle classes, and to the rise in masculine authority which challenged feminine expertise. This book is the first to draw extensively on archived qualitative social science data from the 1930s to the 1960s, which it uses to offer a unique, personal and challenging account of post war social change in Britain. It also uses this data to conduct a new kind of historical sociology of the social sciences, one that emphasises the discontinuities in knowledge forms and which stresses how disciplines and institutions competed with each other for reputation. Its emphasis on how social scientific forms of knowing eclipsed those from the arts and humanities during this period offers a radical re-thinking of the role of expertise today which will provoke social scientists, scholars in the humanities, and the general reader alike.
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public role of writers;intellectuals;the nation;political agenda;non-political writers
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Responding to the growing gap between the sociological ethos and the world we study, the challenge of public sociology is to engage multiple publics in multiple ways. These public sociologies should not be left out in the cold, but brought into the framework of our discipline. In this way we make public sociology a visible and legitimate enterprise, and, thereby, invigorate the discipline as a whole. Accordingly, if we map out the division of sociological labor, we discover antagonistic interdependence among four types of knowledge: professional, critical, policy, and public. In the best of all worlds the flourishing of each type of sociology is a condition for the flourishing of all, but they can just as easily assume pathological forms or become victims of exclusion and subordination. This field of power beckons us to explore the relations among the four types of sociology as they vary historically and nationally, and as they provide the template for divergent individual careers. Finally, comparing disciplines points to the umbilical chord that connects sociology to the world of publics, underlining sociology's particular investment in the defense of civil society, itself beleaguered by the encroachment of markets and states.
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This book, which accompanies a major exhibition at the Centre for New Art and Media (ZKM) in Karlsruhe, Germany, invoked three disparate realms in which images have assumed the role of cultural weapons. Monotheistic religions, scientific theories and contemporary arts have struggled with the contradictory urge to produce and also destroy images and emblems. Moving beyond the image wars "Iconoclash" shows that image destruction has always coexisted with a cascade of image production, visible in traditional Christian images as well as in scientific laboratories and the various experiments of contemporary art, music, cinema and architecture. While iconoclasts have struggled against icon worshippers, another history of "iconophily" has always been at work. Investigating this alternative to the Western obsession with image worship and destruction allows useful comparisons with other cultures, in which images play a very different role. "Iconoclash" offers a variety of experiments on how to "suspend" the iconoclastic gesture and to renew the movements of images against any freeze-framing. The book includes major works by Art & Language, Will Baumeister, Christian Boltanski, Daniel Buren, Lucas Cranach, Max Dean, Marcel Duchamp, Albrecht Durer, Lucio Fontana, Francisco Goya, Hans Haacke, Richard Hamilton, Young Hay, Arata Isozaki, Asger Jorn, Martin Kippenberger, Imi Knoebel, Komar & Melamid, Joseph Kosuth, Gordon Matta-Clark, Tracey Moffa, Nam June Paik, Sigmar Polke, Stephen Prina, Man Ray, Sophie Ristelhueber, Hiroshi Sugimoto and many others.
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This article excavates a discussion on the mediations that informed the making of the film Aaj Kaal by Asian elders, in a project directed by Avtar Brah and coordinated by Jasbir Panesar with the film trainer Vipin Kumar. It brings this largely unknown and inventive film to the foreground of current developments in participative media research practices. The discussion explores the coming together of the ethnographic imagination and performative pedagogies during the course of an adult education community project centred on South Asian elders making a film. Collaborative dialogic encounters illuminate post-war British front rooms, the seaside and public spheres from what is usually an unlikely vantage point of view in public accounts.
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This paper examines the relationship between metrics, markets and affect in the contemporary UK academy. It argues that the emergence of a particular structure of feeling amongst academics in the last few years has been closely associated with the growth and development of ‘quantified control’. It examines the functioning of a range of metrics: citations; workload models; transparent costing data; research assessments; teaching quality assessments; and commercial university league tables. It argues that these metrics, and others, although still embedded within an audit culture, increasingly function autonomously as a data assemblage able not just to mimic markets but, increasingly, to enact them. It concludes by posing some questions about the possible implications of this for the future of academic practice.
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This article argues that the descriptive turn evident in contemporary capitalism challenges orthodox sociological emphases on the central importance of causality and the denigration of descriptive methods. The article reviews the different evocations of descriptive sociology pronounced by three very different contemporary sociologists: Andrew Abbott, John Goldthorpe, and Bruno Latour, and lays out their different approaches to the role of the `sociological descriptive'. It is argued that their apparent differences need to be placed in a broader re-orientation of sociology away from its historical interface with the humanities and towards the natural sciences. How this reorientation involves a new role for visual methods which have traditionally been decried in orthodox sociology is examined, and the article concludes with suggestions for how sociology might best orient itself to the descriptive turn.
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This special issue poses the question: what is the empirical? More specifically, it raises this question for the discipline of Sociology. This question, we believe, is a vital one to pose in our current juncture which witnesses two seemingly paradoxical movements in regard to the place, status and significance of the empirical within Sociology. On the one hand, the discipline faces what has been termed a ‘coming crisis’ of empirical Sociology (Savage and Burrows, 2007), an impending crisis created by the expansion of the production of data relating to the social world by researchers (and technologies) outside the university. This expansion puts in question the sociologist’s claim to have a monopoly of expertise in the techniques of the generation of social data and the analysis of social life.
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For D.H. If i had an agent, i am sure he would advise me to sue James Cameron over his latest blockbuster since Avatar should really be called Pandora’s Hope!1 Yes, Pandora is the name of the mythical humanoid figure whose box holds all the ills of humanity, but it is also the name of the heavenly body that humans from planet Earth (all members of the typically American military-industrial complex) are exploiting to death without any worry for the fate of its local inhabitants, the Navis, and their ecosystem, a superorganism and goddess called Eywa. I am under the impression that this film is the first popular description of what happens when modernist humans meet Gaia. And it’s not pretty. The Revenge of Gaia, to draw on the title of a book by James Lovelock, results in a terrifying replay of Dunkirk 1940 or Saigon 1973: a retreat and a defeat.2 This time, the Cowboys lose to the Indians: they have to flee from their frontier and withdraw back home abandoning all their riches behind them. In trying to pry open the mysterious planet Pandora in search of a mineral—known as unobtanium, no less!—the Earthlings, just as in the classical myth, let loose all the ills of humanity: not only do they ravage the planet, destroy the great tree of life, and kill the quasi-Amazonian Indians who had lived in edenic harmony with it, but they also become infected with their own macho ideology. Outward destruction breeds inward destruction. And again, as in the classical myth, hope is left at the bottom of Pandora’s box—I mean planet—because it lies deep in the forest, thoroughly hidden in the complex web of connections that the Navis nurture with their own Gaia, a biological and cultural network which only a small team of naturalists and anthropologists are beginning to explore.3 It is left to Jake, an outcast, a marine with neither legs nor academic credentials, to finally “get it,” yet at a price: the betrayal of his fellow mercenaries, a rather conventional love affair with a native, and a magnificent transmigration of his original crippled body into his avatar, thereby inverting the relationship between the original and the copy and giving a whole new dimension to what it means to “go native.” I take this film to be the first Hollywood script about the modernist clash with nature that doesn’t take ultimate catastrophe and destruction for granted—as so many have before—but opts for a much more interesting outcome: a new search for hope on condition that what it means to have a body, a mind, and a world is completely redefined. The lesson of the film, in my reading of it, is that modernized and modernizing humans are not physically, psychologically, scientifically, and emotionally equipped to survive on their planet. As in Michel Tournier’s inverted story of Robinson Crusoe, Friday, or, The Other Island, they have to relearn from beginning to end what it is to live on their island—and just like Tournier’s fable, Crusoe ultimately decides to stay in the now civilized and civilizing jungle instead of going back home to what for him has become just another wilderness.4 But what fifty years ago in Tournier’s romance was a fully individual experience has become today in Cameron’s film a collective adventure: there is no sustainable life for Earth-bound species on their planet island. It is in the dramatic atmosphere induced by Cameron’s opera that I want to write a draft of my manifesto. I know full well that, just like the time of avant-gardes or that of the Great Frontier, the time of manifestos has long passed. Actually, it is the time of time that has passed: this strange idea of a vast army moving forward, preceded by the most daring innovators and thinkers, followed by a mass of slower and heavier crowds, while the rearguard of the most archaic, the most primitive, the most reactionary people trails behind—just like the Navis, trying...
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This paper describes a site-specific sociological experiment and looks back at the history of British sociology from the Outlook Tower in Edinburgh. It considers the role of technological innovation in observation, and explores how attention is guided through two exercises in sensory attunement; augmented listening and telescopic looking. Reconfiguring the observer through different technologies and devices, the paper questions what it means to listen and to look, and highlights how our sociological outlook is deeply ethical and historical.