In the course of sociological research about the Internet, an accompanying range of new methodological approaches have been developed to investigate usage, communication, processes of appropriation, and the virtuality of the Internet. However, the exploration of the Internet as a technological and material object as well as the question of how it is involved in human practices are seen more rarely. This paper presents a methodology of software-based recording and an analysis of the interactions between humans and the Internet, which are visible on the screen. Adding methods of usability and market research to sociological Internet research, this enables us to “move closer” to the technology and to get a detailed view of human practices and Internet “actions” on the interface; therewith, it will be possible to investigate how social practices proceed when Internet technologies are involved, how users handle the Internet and to what extent it enables, facilitates, limits, or hinders practices.
Moral Economy and Treatment Regimes in Comparative Perspective
Today the social and material situations of sick bodies are increasingly and intimately bound up with the variable moral economies of national healthcare systems in uncertain and contrastive ways. I approach these ‘intimate uncertainties’ comparatively and methodologically by drawing on ethnographic fieldwork on transplant medicine in Mexico in order to interrogate European healthcare, specifically the UK. The UK National Health Service is an exemplary site of moral economy, one that the Mexican case appears to stand in stark contrast to. However, as I show, the uncertainties we see at work in Mexico enable us to seek them out in the UK too, particularly those generated at the nexus of the state, failing organs and new strategies for healthcare rationing. The article traces the gendered and socioeconomic inequalities, which follow from these shifts, while offering a critique of analyses that take the European and North American experience as methodologically foundational.
A Focus on the History of Concepts
The special section “Knowledge Quests in the European Periphery” attempts to explore the different ways in which conceptual history’s methodologies could be applied to disciplines with which traditional conceptual historians have not previously engaged, such as the history of science, political economy, Enlightenment studies, postcolonial history, and transnational history. This special section, when read as a whole, opens up a multidisciplinary space in which center-periphery tensions are examined in the context of conceptual transnational exchange. Coming from different geographical places and cultural spaces within the European periphery, the three case studies draw their methodological background from conceptual history and aim to reflect on the center-periphery dichotomy by asking how historians from different historiographical traditions could take advantage of the methods and theories of conceptual history, as well as how conceptual history could take advantage of the coming together of disciplines that traditionally do not communicate with each other.
The Contribution of Max Gluckman
Gluckman and the Manchester School pioneered approaches in anthropology that are now commonplace. But they were interested in achieving generalizations of both a local and more global kind. Their central methodology was that of situational analysis and extended-case analysis, which are examined here as attempts to make anthropology, via its ethnographic field method, a scientific discipline that opened out to novel ideas and theories concerning the human condition. This essay critically assesses the thinking that underpinned the methodology of situational analysis and suggests some areas of redirection. The overall idea is to impart some sense of the spirit that motivated various aspects of the Manchester innovation, especially the politics that gave it some coherence, and the wider importance of its directions that are occasionally overlooked in reflections on the history of social anthropology.
Capturing the impress of boredom and inactivity
Outside the main railway station in Bucharest, Romania, otherwise unemployed day laborers hustle for small change as informal parking lot attendants (parcagii). While their efforts yield numerous ethnographic observations of entrepreneurial activity, these attendants report “doing nothing” day in and day out. This article explores the tension between etic observations and emic feelings in order to ask a methodological question: how can “not doing” and “absent activity” be captured within an ethnographic method primed to observe activity constantly? In response, this article takes inspiration from photography to develop “the negative” as a technique for bringing the impress of absent activity on social worlds into ethnographic view. The intent of this methodological intervention is to open new theoretical lines of flight into the politics of inactivity.
This article discusses the current confusion surrounding qualitative methods in demographic and health research that prevails amongst young researchers in Arab countries. It presents the author’s reflections on years of train- ing researchers from the region in qualitative methods and the frustrations of differentiating between qualitative methods, qualitative methodology and anthropology in the midst of rising demands to produce a critical Arab social science.
Several important facets of Sartre’s work are exemplified in this issue of Sartre Studies International: on the one hand, the range and variety of his intellectual and literary achievements (methodological innovation, political intervention, amorous discourse and theatrical exploration); on the other, his interactions with other key intellectuals (specifically, Lefebvre, Camus and de Beauvoir) that were the source of a productive and challenging re-evaluation and reassessment.
In this article Merriman responds to Gijs Mom's suggestion that mobility historians should develop a common research agenda, formulate big questions, and adopt a transnational and comparative approach. In reply, Merriman suggests that dissensus and multiple approaches have their advantages, and highlights the ongoing importance of the national as a frame of understanding, as well as the importance of spatially sensitive approaches that pose clear challenges to comparative methodologies.
Archaeology, Ritual, and Religion
This article is an introduction to the emerging sub-discipline of the archaeology of ritual and religion. It addresses the question of how archaeologists can approach these fields: what are the challenges and opportunities? Using theory and methodology, ritual and religion are explored in the archaeological record by means of so-called framing, and an interpretation is attempted through analogy and 'ethos'. Selected Neolithic sites from the Near East that have yielded rich and important data regarding ritual and religion serve as examples.
Between Theory, Ethnography, and Method
Martin Holbraad, Sarah Green, Alberto Corsín Jiménez, Veena Das, Nurit Bird-David, Eduardo Kohn, Ghassan Hage, Laura Bear, Hannah Knox and Bruce Kapferer
Recent years in anthropology have seen a noticeable trend, moving from debates about theory to a concern with method. So while some generations ago we would tend to identify ourselves as anthropologists with reference to particular theoretical paradigms—for example, Marxism, (post-)structuralism, cognitivism, cultural materialism, interpretivism—these days our tendency is to align ourselves, often eclectically, with proposals conceived as methodological: entanglements, assemblages, ontologies, technologies of description, epistemic partnerships, problematizations, collaborative anthropology, the art of noticing, and so on.