The Open UniversitySkip to content

After Method: Mess in Social Science Research

Law, John (2004). After Method: Mess in Social Science Research. International library of sociology. London: Routledge, pp. 225–254.


There is a more recent version of this eprint available. Click here to view it.

Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


John Law argues that methods don't just describe social realities but are also involved in creating them. The implications of this argument are highly significant. If this is the case, methods are always political, and it raises the question of what kinds of social realities we want to create.

Most current methods look for clarity and precision. It is usually said that only poor research produces messy findings, and the idea that things in the world might be fluid, elusive, or multiple is unthinkable. Law's startling argument is that this is wrong and it is time for a new approach. Many realities, he says, are vague and ephemeral. If methods want to know and help to shape the world, then they need to reinvent themselves and their politics to deal with mess. That is the challenge. Nothing less will do.

Item Type: Book
Copyright Holders: 2004 Taylor & Francis Group
ISBN: 0-415-34175-2, 978-0-415-34175-2
Keywords: ANT; actor-network theory; STS; science technology and society; narrative; multiplicity; method; research methods; mess; complexity; non-coherence; performativity
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > History, Religious Studies, Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
Item ID: 22040
Depositing User: John Law
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2010 08:44
Last Modified: 04 Oct 2016 10:39
Share this page:

Available Versions of this Item

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU