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Palgrave Macmillan


Concept and Method

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  • Open Access
  • © 2022

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  • This book is open access, which means that you have free and unlimited access
  • Offers a timely exploration of figure and figuration, by leading and emerging scholars from a variety of backgrounds
  • Includes case studies of complex phenomena such as AI, pollution, care of breast cancer patients, and #MeToo
  • Contributes to new thinking in interdisciplinary studies and in a range of social science and humanities disciplines

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Table of contents (13 chapters)


About this book

This open access book shows how figures, figuring, and configuration are used to understand complex, contemporary problems. Figures are images, numbers, diagrams, data and datasets, turns-of-phrase, and representations. Contributors reflect on the history of figures as they have transformed disciplines and fields of study, and how methods of figuring and configuring have been integral to practices of description, computation, creation, criticism and political action. They do this by following figures across fields of social science, medicine, art, literature, media, politics, philosophy, history, anthropology, and science and technology studies. Readers will encounter  figures as various as Je Suis Charlie, #MeToo, social media personae,  gardeners, asthmatic children, systems configuration management and cloud computing – all demonstrate the methodological utility and contemporary relevance of thinking with figures. This book serves as a critical guide to a world of figuresand a creative invitation to “go figure!”


“This fascinating collection opens up the figure of the “figure,” diving deep into its histories and ranging widely across its many contemporary lives. It is a boon for anyone interested in the strange power of figuration.”

Nick Seaver, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Tufts University, USA

Editors and Affiliations

  • Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK

    Celia Lury, Scott Wark

  • Department of Anthropology, Goldsmiths, University of London, London, UK

    William Viney

About the editors

Celia Lury is Professor in the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, University of Warwick. She has a long-standing interest in the ways in which “live” methods contribute to the enactment of social worlds. Her most recent book is Problem Spaces: How and Why Methodology Matters (2020).

William Viney is a research fellow in the Department of Anthropology, Goldsmiths, University of London, as part of the project “People Like You”: Contemporary Figures of Personalisation. His most recent book is Twins: Superstitions and Marvels, Fantasies and Experiments (2021).

Scott Wark is a research fellow for the Wellcome-funded project, “People Like You”: Contemporary Figures of Personalisation. He is based at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies at the University of Warwick. His main research focus is on online culture.

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Figure

  • Book Subtitle: Concept and Method

  • Editors: Celia Lury, William Viney, Scott Wark

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Singapore

  • eBook Packages: Social Sciences, Social Sciences (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2022

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-981-19-2475-0Published: 27 October 2022

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-981-19-2478-1Published: 27 October 2022

  • eBook ISBN: 978-981-19-2476-7Published: 26 October 2022

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XV, 283

  • Number of Illustrations: 1 b/w illustrations, 11 illustrations in colour

  • Topics: Sociology, general, Anthropology, Social Sciences, general, Cultural Studies, Media and Communication

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