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Time and method: After survival, for a renewed praxis of social theory

Frade, C 2013, 'Time and method: After survival, for a renewed praxis of social theory' , CRESC Working Paper Series (132) , pp. 1-17.

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This paper is an intervention in the debate on Big Data or the digital. Recognising the importance of engaging with what has become known as Big Data, I seek to re-situate the Big Data issue in a different perspective and to disrupt the debate around it. The paper shows that the call to fully and inventively engage with the digital, or Big Data, is a strategic response which can be construed as a wager for the survival of academic sociology, and that underpinning such a wager there lies a rather coherent, but essentially unstated, vision which involves ontological and epistemological assumptions, and a whole stance. Once such assumptions are brought out through an ontological analysis, the paper is able to spell out the political stance within which the ‘politics of method’ advocated by many participants in the debate has to be situated, as well as to show how such politics overlooks the political economy of social data and displaces theory and critique. Even more importantly, the paper seeks to expound an alternative view. Thus, to the temporality of running after an endlessly changing time, it opposes the temporality of subjectivation. To the emphasis on method, it opposes a praxis, or a conduct of life – a praxis encompassing and appreciative of method and methodological inventiveness, but subordinating it to theory and more in particular to a Machiavellian social theory. Thus, to the risk of falling into resignation in view of the inevitability implied in the aforementioned ontology, the paper is also a call for a more combative social theory – one which is still able to feel disquiet in view of what is happening in our present times, but never abandons hope. Only such capacity for disquiet, for wonder and astonishment, it is argued, can provide the impulse for a renewal of social theory – the impulse which was at the origin of the discipline and has to be at the core of its renewal. The paper is thus an invitation to widen the Big Data debate and to seriously consider so far unexamined perspectives and possibilities.

Item Type: Article
Themes: Media, Digital Technology and the Creative Economy
Schools: Schools > School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work & Social Sciences > Centre for Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work & Social Sciences Research
Journal or Publication Title: CRESC Working Paper Series
Publisher: The University of Manchester
Refereed: Yes
Related URLs:
Funders: Non funded research
Depositing User: C Frade
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2013 09:40
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2015 00:33

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