Accepted Paper:

Reconsidering the performativity of methods in STS research from a constructive design research perspective  


Sissel Olander (Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts)
Tau Lenskjold (University of Southern Denmark)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses the performativity of methods in STS research from the position of material-experimental practices in constructive design research. The paper seeks to highlight and reconfigure what seems to somewhat underexposed relations between ethics, knowing, and becoming in much STS research.

Paper long abstract:

In one way it seems the STS research community subscribes to a deeply rooted performative understanding of how technology, science and socio-material collectives are brought into being. Human and non-human actors perform worlds as they collide, negotiate and translate into new realities. The very general observation that research takes part in these formations is broadly acknowledged within the STS community. At the same time however, most STS researchers rely on very particular technologies of observation, tracing and description to generate knowledge. These technologies, it seems, are rarely scrutinized as part of STS research projects, yet they both settle and circumscribe what we can know about the world. Entering this discussion from the field of constructive design research, a field that is increasingly informed by ideas from STS and ANT, we suggest that an exploration of the research process as a series of forged yet not always controllable experimental events (Rheinberger 1997, Lury & Wakeford 2012) may open a richer discussion of methodologies in STS.

In the design processes we recount in this paper, such epistemic events are characterized by continuous (and sometimes uneasy) attempts to simultaneously capture and construct worlds. We may say that this kind of epistemic work is always directed by an engagement with change, where the ongoing un-packing of the methodological apparatus becomes the very condition for generating knowledge. This focus on the performativity of methods offers an opportunity to highlight and reconsider the relations between ethics, knowing and becoming in STS.

Panel T014
Considering the performativity of our own research practices