Reassembling Social Science Methods: the challenge of digital devices

Article English OPEN
Ruppert, Evelyn ; Law, John ; Savage, Mike (2013)
  • Publisher: Sage
  • Subject: L370 | L300 | L391

The aim of the paper is to intervene in debates about the digital and in particular framings that imagine the digital in terms of epochal shifts or as redefining life. Instead, drawing on recent developments in digital methods, we explore the lively, productive and performative qualities of the digital by attending to the specificities of digital devices and how they interact, and sometimes compete, with older devices and their capacity to mobilise and materialise social and other relations. In doing so, our aim is to explore the implications of digital devices and data for reassembling social science methods or what we call the social science apparatuses that assemble digital devices and data to ‘know’ the social and other relations. Building on recent work at CReSC on the Social Life of Methods, we recommend a genealogical approach that is alive to the ways in which digital devices are simultaneously shaped by social worlds, and can in turn become agents that shape those worlds. This calls for attending to the specificities of digital devices themselves, how they are varied and composed of diverse socio-technical arrangements, and are enrolled in the creation of new knowledge spaces, institutions and actors. Rather than exploring what large-scale changes can be revealed and understood through the digital, we argue for explorations of how digital devices themselves are materially implicated in the production and performance of contemporary sociality. To that end we offer the following nine propositions about the implications of digital data and devices and argue that these demand rethinking the theoretical assumptions of social science methods: transactional actors; heterogeneity; visualisation; continuous time; whole populations; granularity; expertise; mobile and mobilising; and non-coherence.
  • References (74)
    74 references, page 1 of 8

    Agamben, Georgio (2005) State of Exception, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Amoore, L. (2009) 'Lines of Sight: On the Visualization of Unknown Futures', Citizenship Studies 13(1): 17-30.

    Barry, A. (2005) 'Pharmaceutical matters: the invention of informed materials', Theory, Culture and Society 22 (1): 51-69.

    Bauman, Zygmunt (1987) Legislators and Interpreters: On Modernity, Post-modernity and Intellectuals, London: Polity Press.Beck, Ulrich (1992) Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity, London: Sage.

    Beer, D. (2009) 'Power through the Algorithm? Participatory Web Cultures and the Technological Unconscious', New Media and Society 11(6): 985-1002.

    Bell, Daniel (1976) The Coming of Post-Industrial Society: A Venture in Social Forecasting,

    boyd, D., & Crawford, K. (2012). Critical Questions for Big Data. Information, Communication & Society, 15(5), 662-679.

    Braverman, H. (1974) Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century. New York: Monthly Review Press.

    Callon, M. (1986) 'Elements of a Sociology of Translation: Domestication of the Scallops and the Fishermen of St Brieuc Bay', in J. Law (eds) Power, Action and Belief: A New Sociology of Knowledge?, London: Routledge.

    Callon, M. (1998) The Laws of the Market, Oxford: Blackwell.

  • Similar Research Results (1)
  • Metrics
    views in OpenAIRE
    views in local repository
    downloads in local repository

    The information is available from the following content providers:

    From Number Of Views Number Of Downloads
    Goldsmiths Research Online - IRUS-UK 0 1,397
Share - Bookmark