Rethinking the craft of social research

“It is still the case that most social scientists view the research encounter as an interface between an observer and the observed, producing either quantitative or qualitative data. Equally, the dissemination of research findings are confined to conventional paper forms of publishing, and research excellence is measured and audited through such forms, be it in monographs or academic journals. It remains the case that in social science the inclusion of audio or visual material in the context of ethnographic social research has been little more than ‘eye candy’ or ‘background listening’ to the main event on the page. The relatively inexpensive nature of these easy-to-use media offers researchers a new opportunity to develop innovative approaches to how we conduct and present social research. There are more opportunities than at any other moment to rethink the craft of social research beyond the dominance of the word and figure and to reconsider our reliance on ‘the interview’ (often taking place across a table in particular place) as the prime technology for generating ‘data’.”

– Les Back in Live sociology: social research and its futures

Categories: Higher Education, Outflanking Platitudes

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  1. ‘Questions of wider dissemination and methodology itself have begun to convince social scientists to look beyond their own philosophical groundings to aesthetics for solutions (Jones, 2006). They have found that text is often only linear and, therefore, temporal; in science the meaning must be precise or risk disbelief. Narrated stories turned into written text (the vast majority of the outputs of the Social Science interview culture) now require a fresh approach. The constructed memories that are the building blocks of narrated accounts, like dreams, are simultaneous layers of past and present—the visual and the spatial—and these added dimensions, beyond the purely temporal, now demand attention’. – Jones, K. (2012). Connecting research with communities through performative social science. The Qualitative Report, 17(Rev. 18), 1-8. Retrieved from

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