Pathways to practice: praxiography and international politics

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Bueger, Christian (2014)

Political scientists have started to focus on ‘practice’ as the smallest unit of analysis. Following a broader turn in the social sciences, the practice focus provides multiple advantages, including better conceptualizations of short-term social change, getting closer to the everyday activities of those speaking, writing and doing politics, appropriate conceptualization of agency-structure dynamics, or forms of analysis resonating with other communities than scholarly ones. This contribution asks what the methodological implications of the practice turn are. It is argued that the practice focus does not only imply a certain ‘theory’ but also a certain methodology. I advance the term praxiography to speak about the forms of analysis produced by practice researchers. I discuss key guidelines of praxiographic research on two levels: first, general research strategies that provide empirical access points, second, guidelines for data collection in the frame of participant observation, expert interviews, and document analysis. I conclude in arguing that although praxiography is context driven, and hence requires to be tailored to the research problem, it is vital to reflect on the methodological repertoire of praxiographic research.
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