Theory, Culture & Society have just published a special issue on ‘The Social Life of Methods’. It has been edited by Evelyn Ruppert, John Law and Mike Savage. The issue covers a range of issues about the role of method in social science and the spread of methods out into new social domains. As well as a range of articles on these processes, the issue contains an introduction from Mike as well as a position piece co-authored by the editors. I have an article, which I co-wrote with Roger Burrows, on ‘Popular Culture, Digital Archives and the Social Life of Methods’. I’ve posted about this article before (when it was published online first) but here is the abstract for our piece:
Digital data inundation has far-reaching implications for: disciplinary jurisdiction; the relationship between the academy, commerce and the state; and the very nature of the sociological imagination. Hitherto much of the discussion about these matters has tended to focus on ‘transactional’ data held within large and complex commercial and government databases. This emphasis has been quite understandable – such transactional data does indeed form a crucial part of the informational infrastructures that are now emerging. However, in recent years new sources of data have become available that possess a rather different character. This is data generated in the cultural sphere, not only as a result of routine transactions with various digital media but also as a result of what some would want to view as a shift towards popular cultural forms dominated by processes of what has been termed prosumption. Our analytic focus here is on contemporary prosumption practices, digital technologies, the public life of data and the playful vitality of many of the ‘glossy topics’ that constitute contemporary popular culture.