From methodology to methodography?

Hammersley, Martyn (2020). From methodology to methodography? Methodological Innovations, 13(3)

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/2059799120976995

Abstract

This article examines the character of a small but detailed observational study that focused on two teams of researchers, one engaged in qualitative sociological research, the other developing statistical models. The study was presented as investigating ‘the social life of methods’, an approach seen by some as displacing conventional research methodology. The study drew on ethnomethodology, and was offered as a direct parallel with ethnographic and ethnomethodological investigations of natural scientists’ work by Science and Technology Studies scholars. In the articles deriving from this study, the authors show how even the statisticians relied on background qualitative knowledge about the social phenomena to which their data related. The articles also document routine practices employed by each set of researchers, some ‘troubles’ they encountered and how they dealt with these. Another theme addressed is whether the distinction between quantitative and qualitative approaches accurately characterised differences between these researchers at the level of practical reasoning. While this research is presented as descriptive in orientation, concerned simply with documenting social science practices, it operates against a background of at least implicit critique. I examine its character and the closely associated criticism of social research methodology and conventional social science.

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