Repositioning documents in social research

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Citations (Scopus)


In matters of social research sociologists and other social scientists have tended to view documents primarily as sources of evidence and as receptacles of inert content.The key strategies for data exploration have consequently been associated with various styles of content or thematic analysis. Even when discourse analysis has been recommended, there has been a marked tendency to deal with records, files, and the like, primarily as containers - things to be read, understood, and categorized. In this article, however, the author seeks to demonstrate that by focussing on the functioning of documents instead of content, sociology can embrace a much wider range of approaches to both data collection and analysis. Indeed, the adoption of such a programme encourages researchers to see documents as active agents in the world, and to view documentation as a key component of dynamic networks rather than as a set of static and immutable 'things'.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)821-836
Number of pages16
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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