Author:Juliane Jarke (University of Bremen)
Paper short abstract:
This paper discusses ethico-onto-epistemological commitments of and for sociomaterial research. I argue that we need to consider the performative conditions of our methods and attend to the limitations of terms such as observation that distally suggest that we are looking at something.
Paper long abstract:
The methodological approach any research project takes cannot be separated from its conceptual and empirical dimension or its research aims. It provides the grounds on which a researcher constructs and produces a field and navigates in it. The methodological approach includes ontological considerations about the world, the researcher and the ways in which they 'intra-act' (Barad, 2007). It also comprises epistemological considerations about what can be known about the world and subsequently how this knowledge may be acquired and conveyed.
Mol (2003) argues that research methods are not 'a window on the world, but a way of interfering with it' (p.155). We hence need to consider the performative conditions of our interferences with and in the world, our research practices. For example, we talk about how we have observed something. Yet what does that mean? What may be a unit of analysis for a study that attends to sociomateriality and aims to take it seriously? The paper will discuss—based on a 3-year ethnographic study—how terms such as 'observation' (or 'seeing') are in themselves problematic as they 'distally' (Cooper & Law, 1995) suggest that we are looking at something which is out there. I argue that methods not only produce empirical data but also a number of other subject- and object-positionings including informants, a research setting and the researcher themselves. So far, sociomaterial researchers find it difficult to develop a suitable language for overcoming assumptions associated with distal terms such as observing and analysing yet are produced—as researchers—by and through these practices.
Considering the performativity of our own research practices