Some information about me
I have been a CRESC Centre Director at the OU since 2010, and I convene the Social Life of Method (SLOM) research theme.
My research approach
Four main points
I’m interdisciplinary. Part sociologist and part STS (science, technology and society), I’ve worked with anthropologists, sociologists, philosophers, engineers, medical practitioners, geographers and animal scientists. The world doesn't fit into disciplines, and it demands an interdisciplinary approach.
I assume that the world is materially heterogeneous. It mixes the social, economic, material, human, ‘natural’, and technical. We need rigorous ways of thinking and studying these heterogeneous processes. That’s why I’ve worked with actor-network theory and its successor ‘material-semiotic’ projects.
I assume that the world is discursively heterogeneous. I’m fascinated and horrified by the exclusions of the social. Systems both depend on and Other, the people, collectivities and realities that fail to fit. If there’s an enemy here in addition to injustice then it is hubris. In practice I go looking for gaps, aporias, and subaltern realities and draw on postcolonial sensibilities to imagine alternative knowledge spaces.
I’m concerned with the performativity of method. Methods tend to produce – often in unanticipated and contradictory ways – the worlds they claim to be describing. This is why I’m so excited about the CRESC ‘social life of method’ SLOM theme. This gives a space to debate methods and the social.
Here are some of the people I've recently worked with: Kristin Asdal (Oslo), Geir Afdal (Oslo), Marianne Lien (Oslo), Wen-yuan Lin (Hsinchu, Taiwan), Annemarie Mol (Amsterdam), Ingunn Moser (Oslo), Evelyn Ruppert (Goldsmiths), Mike Savage (LSE), Vicky Singleton (Lancaster) and Karel Williams (CRESC).
If the world is non-coherent, then what are the methods we need to know it, to enact it, and to live well in it?
People, technologies and animals
With anthropologists Marianne Lien and Gro Ween (University of Oslo) I have been working ethnographically on salmon farming on a project called ‘Newcomers to the Farm’. How do animals and people interact? How are human beings and animals being remade? Now is 'nature' done? These are our core questions. For more details click here.
Vulnerabilities and disasters
I have worked on foot and mouth disease, and the UK response to the disease outbreak of 2001. More recently I've been thinking with CRESC colleagues about the vulnerabilities of finance. How can such complex and (in the end) ramshackle systems be understood and controlled? These are my key questions.
Alternative knowledge spaces
Here I work with Wen-yuan Lin (Tsing-hua University, Taiwan) and scholars at UC Davis and Memorial University, Newfoundland. What are the alternatives to systems of hegemonic knowledge? And how can we detect the Othering that goes with hegemony? These are the central questions.
Refereed Journal Papers
Julie Froud, Sukhdev Johal, John Law, Adam Leaver and Karel Williams (2011), 'Rebalancing the Economy (Or Buyer's Remorse)', CRESC Working Paper 087.
Social life of methods
In ‘the challenge of the digital’ we explore how social science methods and research are being challenged and reconfigured by developments in the collection, storage, networking,...
In this project we ask
- How have social habits, identities, attitudes, opinions and feelings been historically constructed through devices such as the census, surveys, polls, market...
If the world is non-coherent, then what are the methods we need to know it, to enact it, and to live well in it? This is a core question in...
Infrastructures of Social Change
Intensive aquaculture has revolutionised the husbandry of marine species. In this project we treat aquaculture as the most recent turn in the human history of domestication. We are asking the...
Mon, Jun 13th 2011 - Wed, Jun 15th 2011
The baroque may be understood as a set of styles associated with the seventeenth and eighteenth century, or as a complaint about features of that large and diverse body of work. It may also be understood as a set of procedures or sensibilities that refuses representation and seeks to know, appreciate, trouble, and/or redeem the world allegorically. Informed by this last concern, this workshop will use empirical examples and case studies to explore what this might mean for practical research in the social sciences and the humanities.
Fri, Mar 30th 2012
How have theories and methods formatted markets? How have they been moved from economics and STS? These questions will be explored by Michel Callon, Adam Leaver, Fabian Muniesa and Karel Wiliams from CRESC and the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Mines de Paris.
CRESC 2013 Annual Conference: In/vulnerabilities and Social Change: Precarious Lives and Experimental KnowledgeWed, Sep 4th 2013 - Fri, Sep 6th 2013
In a world of radical political, economic and ecological uncertainty, lives and life chances are increasingly precarious for many. It is becoming ever more urgent to explore the changing vulnerabilities of the majority. At the same time, understanding the in/vulnerabilities of elites and their sometimes inadequate forms of expertise and knowledge is also crucial. These are the two central themes of the CRESC 2013 Conference, which is co-sponsored by the Journal for Cultural Economy.
Fri, Jun 28th 2013
What is it to know? And to know materially? What is it to know materials that we think of as mute? Or animal? This day seminar will explore these questions, with distinguished speakers including Penny Harvey, James Leach and Hugh Raffles.