2nd March 2012

CRESC Seminar: How methods move in markets, March 30


  • Michel Callon (Ecole Nationale Superieure des Mines de Paris)
  • Adam Leaver (CRESC Manchester)
  • Fabian Muniesa (Ecole Nationale Superieure des Mines de Paris)
  • Karel Williams (CRESC Manchester)

Event details

Friday 30th March 2012, 12.30-16.30.

The Open University, London Office; 1-11 Hawley Crescent, Camden Town, London NW1 8NP
(for a map, follow this link: http://www3.open.ac.uk/contact/maps.aspx?contactid=1)

Free, but please secure your place by emailing Bussie Awosanya: Olubusola.Awosanya@manchester.ac.uk

Academic Contact:
John Law

What the seminar series is about

Methods are constantly on the move. Ethnographic methods are adopted by organisational analysts. In the UK at least, auditing methods have been generalised within the public sector to the point where they run right through the social body. Again, as has been widely noted, theories about markets have not only been used to describe how those markets work, but have been turned into methods in practice and used to format economic transactions. And the history of (say) surveys reveals a not dissimilar story: that these have helped to shape both policy and public opinion in a wide range of areas. In short, it is clear that methods move. But they don’t move simply as transparent techniques. As they shift they are also active agents in social structuring and in social change. And, to be sure, they also get reshaped and re-ordered as they move between domains: they are not necessarily rigid.

CRESC’s ‘Social life of Methods’ theme initiative is running three events on ‘How methods move’ in 2012. We have invited distinguished speakers within and beyond CRESC to reflect critically on their own experience of the mobility of methods. Our speakers will reflect, in an empirically grounded manner, on:

  • how methods hold stable as they move from one domain to another; and correspondingly …
  • how methods shift in their form and their significance as they move; what is it that they lose? what do they gain? As a part of this we’re particularly interested in …
  • how methods format and reformat the domains to which they are transferred; what forms of knowledge and expertise do they imply? what kinds of realities do they take for granted as they are moved? what kinds of structures of authority do they imply or impose? What kinds of metaphysics are embedded in them as they move? Correspondingly, and as a part of this, we are interested in ….
  •  what is it that gets lost when new methods reformat an existing domain, politically, socially, or practically? What kinds of agendas disappear? Or, alternatively, …..
  • how it is that methodological dissent shapes areas of study and social realities as different agendas struggle with methodological tools to order an area of social life.

These are large questions. However, CRESC works on the assumption that large questions demand specific and empirically-grounded responses. In the present context this means that we’re interested in careful but theoretically and politically informed ways of thinking about the productivity of methods. And this is where these events on ‘How methods move’ fit into our continuing programme to understand social change

We are planning three relatively informal events. It is likely that one will focus on methods in Post- colonial contexts, and a second will explore Animation and automation or how methods move between film studies and science studies. The first event will be on How methods move in markets.

Speakers will be Michel Callon and Fabian Muniesa (both from the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Mines de Paris) and Adam Leaver and Karel Williams (both from CRESC Manchester). The focus will be both on how theories and methods from the academy have been used to format markets, and on how academics writing about markets have shifted methodological insights from academic work in other areas (such as STS or political economy) to understand markets.

The event, which will include short introductory talks by the speakers, followed by a panel discussion and audience questioning, will take place in at the Open University London Regional Centre in Camden Town on Friday 30th March 2012 from 12.30 to 16.30