Sociology has a deeply reciprocal relationship with technology. As Foucault reminds us, sociology has its origins in technologies of governance, especially the birth of statistics and the concomitant emergence of ‘populations’ as objects of study. Despite critical interventions at the margins, mainstream sociology continues to treat technology as a mere object of study. Technologies generate new forms of sociality that encompass both the researcher and her method – technology is already social, just as the social is already delimited by technology.
While social scientists often associate technologies with physical forms, the idea of technology has its origins in the Greek word tekhnologia, or technique – a mode or pattern of thought that is inclusive of, but not limited to, specific ‘technological objects.’ Necessarily, systems of thought often emerge before the generation of appropriate technological objects. Although there has been some research on technological objects, there has been less interest in the techno-social nexus from which these objects emerge and the ways they are shaping method – even when method does not consider itself ‘technological.’
This conference will explore the ways in which technology engages with method and method engages with technology. What subjectivities, potentialities and capacities are being generated – or suppressed – at the techno-methodological juncture? How have ideologies and social facts preceded and necessitated technological objects? How do systems of thought generate or influence the techniques of method? What kinds of technologies/methods are we using today? How is technological change shaping the questions we ask and methods we use to study the social world? What ethical problems do technologies/methods pose? What kinds of innovative methods are researchers employing using ‘new’ and ‘old’ technologies? How are new technologies (i.e. social networking media, portable media devices, etc) shaping the methods we use? How do we define a technology/method as a ‘legitimate’ research tool and how do time and technological changes alter our perception of that validity? What qualifies old (‘classical’) technologies/methods as relevant?
Technology as Method/ Method as Technology invites proposals addressing the above questions and the following thematic areas:
* the boundaries of ‘legitimate’ methods
* transgressive methods
* methods beyond disciplines
* hierarchy of methods
* power relations in methods
* power of methods
* method and political economy
* the institutionalization of marginal methods
* theorizing quantitative methods and technologies
Please submit an extended abstract of 500-750 by Thursday, September 23, 2010.
Applicants will be notified of final decisions for participation by October 1, 2010.
This event is free and open to the public