After Method: Mess in Social Science Research by John Law

By John Law

John legislation argues that tools do not simply describe social realities yet also are occupied with growing them. the results of this argument are hugely major. if so, tools are consistently political, and it increases the query of what sorts of social realities we wish to create. most present equipment search for readability and precision. it's always stated that simply terrible learn produces messy findings, and the concept issues on the earth may 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 method. Many realities, he says, are obscure and ephemeral. If equipment need to know and aid to form the area, 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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It is no longer the case that the manipulation of inscriptions is seen to produce particular realities. Instead it is the realities that come first: Before long, more and more reality is attributed to the object and less and less to the statement about the object. Consequently an inversion takes place: the object becomes the reason why the statement was made in the first place. (1986, 177) This is the way in which reality becomes the determining factor. It is no longer the processes of comparing, contrasting, and weighing up inscriptions that produce reality.

Some are made less thinkable and less real. And yet others are rendered completely unthinkable and completely unreal. The economic metaphor suggests that it is easier and cheaper to create new inscription devices, new statements and new realities by building on to the routinised black boxes that are already available. It also suggests that as the process goes along it becomes more and more difficult and expensive to ignore or to undo the routines and create others and alternative realities. Latour and Woolgar again: Once a large number of arguments have become incorporated into a black box, the cost of raising alternatives to them becomes prohibitive.

This is the point: in this way of thinking all the reality-describing and reality-making of natural (and social) science practices surfs on more or less provisional standardised packages that are, form part of, or support, inscription devices and practices. At the beginning of this chapter I cited Latour: A proposition, contrary to a statement, includes the world in a certain state . . Thus a construction is not a representation from the mind or from the society about a thing, an object, a matter of fact, but the engagement of a certain type of world in a certain kind of collective.

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