Celia Lury, Problem Spaces: How and Why Methodology Matters – Polity, November 2020

Celia Lury, Problem Spaces: How and Why Methodology Matters – Polity, November 2020

In this innovative book, Celia Lury argues that the time has come for us to explore the world not only with new methods, but with a new approach to methodology itself. Fundamental changes are taking place in how we produce knowledge, how we communicate it and, indeed, what we consider to be knowledge. These changes demand innovative and creative responses to research questions.   

Lury’s rethinking of the nature of social inquiry starts by reconceptualizing the ‘problem space’. Problems are not static or a ‘given’; rather, they are created and continually recomposed as part of the methodological process itself. Following the line of thought that methods are practices that articulate as much as capture a social problem, Lury further develops the notion of compositional methodology to think through its implications. With remarkable fluency, the book draws into conversation a range of hot-button issues, both longstanding and novel, from observation, reflexivity, recursive measurement and feminist methodologies, to participation, context, datafication and platformization.   

Always with an eye to the methodological potential of new trends, the book provides a strong challenge to much received wisdom and argues that a combination of techniques can contribute to better understanding of the problem spaces we all inhabit.

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