Exploring Intervention in the Social Sciences
This chapter explores the relationship between sociologists and their fields. This relation is strongly shaped by a dual fear that runs through the history of sociology: that of either losing epistemic distance and sociological identity trough over-involvement, or that of insufficient engagement through over-detachment from issues of concern. This dual fear dates back to positions of Weber and Marx and regularly resurfaces through e.g. discussions on Public Sociology. After reviewing such debates, this chapter introduces the emerging scholarly approach of situated intervention as an alternative way of relating sociologists and their fields. Drawing on the work of Ian Hacking on the importance of interlocking representing and intervening in the sciences, on the position proposed by Howard Becker of combining attachment with avoiding sentimentality, and on discussions within Science and Technology Studies on scholarly involvement, intervention is not presented as a matter of engagement but rather as an approach to producing sociological knowledge and normativity. Experiments with the organization of care thereby reclaim the notion of intervention from static understandings of objectivity and ethics.
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