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Material Methods

Material Methods
Researching and Thinking with Things

First Edition

October 2019 | 208 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

How do you research materiality and material culture? 

How do you use material ‘things’ to research social life? 

Exploring a range of tools and approaches, Material Methods: Researching and Thinking with Things is a practical and inspiring guide to researching the material world. Covering the full research process, from planning your project to analysing your data, this book:

  • Explores a range of interdisciplinary methods.
  • Brings complex ideas to life with detailed case studies and examples.
  • Helps you to think critically and creatively about your research.

It is essential reading for students and researchers across the social sciences and humanities who are interested in researching materiality or using material culture in their research. 

1 Introduction
2 Orienting Yourself to Things
3 Object Interviews and Elicitations
4 Provocative Methods: Cultural Probes and Arts-based Methods
5 Understanding Things-in-Relations: Surface Assemblages, Inventories and Interviews
6 Follow the Things
7 Ethnographic Approaches
8 Analyzing, Writing and Disseminating

This is the first comprehensive presentation and review of methods for the study of material things that incorporates the advances in material culture studies and a variety of anthropological and sociological developments of recent decades. It has extraordinary breadth including both the planning of research and the presentation of results, alongside considerations of analysis and theory, taken from a broad spectrum between art and science and all delivered in a clear and thoughtful style. There are many original ideas and suggestions for how to proceed. The result will be invaluable for students and researchers wanting to study our ever expanding world of material and visual culture.

Daniel Miller
University College London

What an excellent book Sophie Woodward has written! In ‘Material Methods’ she brings into the methodological mainstream a sophisticated and provocative analysis of the possibilities of researching the material world, in a most timely way. She considers what it means for researchers to attune themselves to and engage with the vitality of ‘things’, in ways that will provoke and inspire them to think and research differently. In chapters that cover the whole research process and span a wide range of material methods, she deftly weaves a discussion that will help the reader to be theoretically astute, practically informed, and inspired to try out new approaches.  Whether or not you plan to use material methods, this book has the potential to change not only the way you do your research, but also your theoretical take on the world.

Jennifer Mason
The University of Manchester

An insightful synthesis of key currents in studies of materiality and an essential guide for actually doing materiality studies. This book will be invaluable in helping researchers and students understand the different ways they can work with objects in their research practice.

Ian Woodward
University of Southern Denmark

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ISBN: 9781473969407

ISBN: 9781473969391

SAGE Research Methods is a research methods tool created to help researchers, faculty and students with their research projects. SAGE Research Methods links over 175,000 pages of SAGE’s renowned book, journal and reference content with truly advanced search and discovery tools. Researchers can explore methods concepts to help them design research projects, understand particular methods or identify a new method, conduct their research, and write up their findings. Since SAGE Research Methods focuses on methodology rather than disciplines, it can be used across the social sciences, health sciences, and more.

With SAGE Research Methods, researchers can explore their chosen method across the depth and breadth of content, expanding or refining their search as needed; read online, print, or email full-text content; utilize suggested related methods and links to related authors from SAGE Research Methods' robust library and unique features; and even share their own collections of content through Methods Lists. SAGE Research Methods contains content from over 720 books, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and handbooks, the entire “Little Green Book,” and "Little Blue Book” series, two Major Works collating a selection of journal articles, and specially commissioned videos.