After Method

After Method

My Amazon wishlist is an abyss. 527 items, most of which were added while I was still a doctoral student. Basically my wishlist amounts to a bibliography of stuff I felt I needed to read at one time or another. Obviously, if the things are still there, then I really didn’t need to read them.

But yesterday I added an item I wanted to remember (the first item since I added Graham Smart’s book on activity theory and the banking industry back in December), and then looked to see what else was there (peering into the abyss). I noticed that I added John Law’s (2004) After Method back in June of last year.

From the Amazon description:

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.

Glad I looked. This is a book I need to read sooner rather than later. Have you read it?


  1. I picked up a copy and read it after I saw Clay's review (http://spinuzzi.blogspot.com/2007/01/reading-after-method.html)...it didn't really fit with anything I was working on at the time, but I remember it being a good read and something I wanted to return to...


  2. @cgb

    Of *course* Clay has read it! Thanks for the tip.

    2007, it turns out, was before I started reading Clay's blog. Looking forward to reading the book and his review!