After Method: Mess in Social Science Research by John Law

By John Law

John legislation argues that equipment do not simply describe social realities yet also are fascinated with developing them. the consequences of this argument are hugely major. if that is so, equipment are constantly political, and it increases the query of what varieties of social realities we wish to create. most modern tools search for readability and precision. it is often acknowledged that basically terrible learn produces messy findings, and the concept that issues on the planet should be fluid, elusive, or a number of is unthinkable. Law's startling argument is this is incorrect and it's time for a brand new procedure. Many realities, he says, are obscure and ephemeral. If tools need to know and aid to form the realm, then they should reinvent themselves and their politics to accommodate mess. that's the problem. not anything much less will do.

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The list is endless. All of these form a part of the hinterland of research. Its boundaries are porous and extend outwards in every direction. However, the problem is that the word ‘method’ doesn’t really catch these ramifications. To take one instance, it doesn’t catch the way in which discourses about ‘users’ have become integral to most funded research in the UK over the last twenty years; or the ways in which related assumptions about audit have been embedded in the practice of research. This, then, is the second reason why we need a new vocabulary.

In general the answer is no, it doesn’t. Reality and the statements that correspond to it are produced together in the disciplinary and laboratory apparatuses of inscription. But in specific circumstances (and we are all, and all the time, in specific circumstances), there is always also a large hinterland of inscription devices and practices already in production. This means that an equally large hinterland of statements, and realities that relate to those statements, are already being made. There is a backdrop of realities that cannot be wished away.

It is not a matter of words representing things. Words and worlds go together. Propositions (as he is now calling them) include realities – include a collective. Include and grow from what I am calling the hinterland. Certain additional consequences follow. The hinterland produces specific more or less routinised realities and statements about those realities. But this implies that countless other realities are being un-made at the same time – or were never made at all. To talk of ‘choices’ about which realities to make is too simple and voluntaristic.

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