From Claims to Chains: the Materiality of Social Problems
- 13 Downloads
Inspired by the work of Bruno Latour, I propose treating social problems not as claims, but as chains. Social problems chains consist of sites of claims-making activities connected by objectified forms of socialproblems, such as problem categories inscribed in texts or material constructions of problems. The focus of social problems research, then, should be three-fold. Research should attend to the activities that produce objectified forms of social problems. Research should also attend to the material forms that lend stability and mobility to constructions of social problems. And, finally, research should trace the paths those forms take, as they link sites of social problems activities and enable or constrain claims-makers’ efforts to build their own versions of problems. Doing so, social problems theory can better account for the diverse materials caught up in the construction of problems and the differences among competing constructions of problems.
KeywordsSocial problems Social problems theory Constructionism Actor-network theory Materiality
- Best, J. (1993). But seriously folks: The limitations of the strict constructionist interpretation of social problems. In J. A. Holstein & G. Miller (Eds.), Reconsidering social constructionism: Debates in social problems theory (pp. 129–150). New York: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
- Best, J., & Nichols, L. (2018). Memories as problems; or, how to reconsider confederate flags and other symbols of the past. In J. Best (Ed.), American nightmares: Social problems in an anxious world (pp. 129–158). Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Bump, P. (2018). The original source for Trump’s claim of 63,000 immigrant murders? Bad data from Steve King in 2006. Washington Post, June 22.https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2018/06/22/the-original-source-for-trumps-claim-of-63000-immigrant-murders-bad-data-from-steve-king-in-2005/. Accessed 8 March 2019.
- Del Rosso, J. (2015). Talking about torture: How political discourse shapes the debate. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- Del Rosso, J., & Esala, J. (2015). Constructionism and the textuality of social problems. Qualitative Sociology Review, 11(2), 34–45.Google Scholar
- Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. New York: Anchor Books.Google Scholar
- Goffman, E. (1961). Asylums: Essays on the social situation of mental patients and other inmates. New York: Anchor Books.Google Scholar
- Holstein, J. A., & Miller, G. (1993). Social constructionism and social problems work. In J. A. Holstein & G. Miller (Eds.), Reconsidering social constructionism: Debates in social problems theory (pp. 151–172). New York: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
- Ibarra, P. R., & Kitsuse, J. I. (1993). Vernacular constituents of moral discourse: An interactionist proposal for the study of social problems. In J. A. Holstein & G. Miller (Eds.), Reconsidering social constructionism: Debates in social problems theory (pp. 25–58). New York: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
- Kofman, Ava. (2018) Bruno Latour, the post-truth philosopher mounts a defense of science. New York Times, October 25. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/25/magazine/bruno-latour-post-truth-philosopher-science.html. Accessed 8 March 2019
- Latour, B. (1987). Science in action: How to follow scientists and engineers through society. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Latour, B. (1991). We have never been modern. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Latour, B. (1999). Pandora’s hope: Essays on the reality of science studies. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the social: An introduction to actor-network theory. New York: Oxford University.Google Scholar
- Latour, B. (2013). The making of law: An ethnography of the Conseil d’Etat. Malden: Polity Press.Google Scholar
- Physicians for Human Rights. (2008). Broken laws, broken lives. Retrieved http://brokenlives.info/?dl_id=5. Accessed 8 March 2019.
- Sorokin, P. A. (1947). Society, culture, and personality: Their structure and dynamics. New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers.Google Scholar
- Spector, M., & Kitsuse, J. I. (1987). Constructing social problems. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar