‘Research Methods’: a compulsory course, which is loved by some but hated by many! This stimulating book is about what went wrong with ‘research methods’. Its controversial argument is radical, even revolutionary. John Law argues that methods don’t just describe social realities but also help to create them. The implications of this argument are highly significant. If this is the case, methods are always political, and this raises the question of what kinds of social realities we want to create. Most current methods look for clarity and precision. It is usually said that messy findings are a product of poor research. The idea that things in the world might be fluid, elusive, or multiple is unthinkable. Law’s startling argument is that this is wrong and it is time for a new approach. Many realities, he says, are vague and ephemeral. If methods want to know and to help shape the world, then they need to reinvent their practice and their politics in order to deal with mess. That is the challenge. Nothing else will do. This book is essential reading for students, postgraduates and researchers with an interest in methodology. John Law is Professor of Sociology and Technology Studies at Lancaster University. He has written widely on social theory, methodology, technologies, and health care.
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