Once Upon a Problem

Motamedi-Fraser, Mariam. 2012. Once Upon a Problem. The Sociological Review, 60(S1), pp. 84-107. ISSN 0038-0261 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article investigates the specificity of sociological materials and methods in relation to other disciplines and practices (art, literature, science and journalism) and questions the opportunities for sociological attentiveness, experimentation and failure in the context of contemporary UK professional, institutional and academic/intellectual constraints. It asks whether materials and methods are ‘sociological’ to the extent that they tell about the problems of society, or whether it is the unique relation of sociology to its materials and methods that defines sociological practice. Exploring these questions in relation to a project that was researched and written during an extended period of unpaid leave (ie outside the profession and the institution), the article also examines some of the consequences of a changed relation between sociology and experience. What would be the implications if the aim of sociology was not only to theorize and explain experience but also, sometimes, to be an ‘informed provocation’ of experience? The second part of the article considers what the concept of ‘make-believe’ might offer sociology – not in terms of what sociology is, but rather in terms of what it does with its materials and methods. Finally, the article returns to the most common material that sociologists work with – words – and asks how it is possible to stay receptive to the vitality of words as forces in the research process.

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Date Deposited:

11 Oct 2013 12:51

Last Modified:

07 Jul 2017 11:26

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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