Practice Theory Methodologies


February 2016

Modest grand theories

“Practice theories are a kind of ‘modest grand theories’ as they offer mere frameworks of categories and assumptions for developing substantial theories on specific practices.”

  • Stefan Hirschauer (2008): “Die Empiriegeladenheit von Theorien und der Erfindungsreichtum der Praxis”, in: Herbert Kalthoff/Stefan Hirschauer/Gesa Lindemann (eds.), Theoretische Empirie. Zur Relevanz qualitativer Forschung, Frankfurt a. M., pp. 165–187, p. 172 (trans. Hilmar Schäfer)

Hilmar Schäfer – The transitive methodology of practice theory

hschaeferIn this contribution, I would like to sketch out both my take on practice theory methodology and its relationship with my current research on cultural heritage. But first of all, I want to start with some remarks about how this blog came about.

My PhD thesis centred on the question of how practice theory can overcome its focus on stability and routine and instead open up its perspective for the dynamics of the social (Schäfer 2013). As Elizabeth Shove, Mika Pantzar and Matt Watson have dealt with similar issues in their book The Dynamics of Social Practice (2012), I engaged in a conversation with Elizabeth Shove, which led to a research visit at Lancaster University in 2015.

Amongst other things (like improving my floorball skills), my research visit highly benefited from conversations I had with members of the department of sociology and the people from the DEMAND Research Centre in particular. I had the opportunity to present my work in a seminar, which led to conversations with Allison Hui about the methodological aspects of practice theory. This blog is an outcome of our exchange, which we would now like to continue with other colleagues. It is also linked to a session at the DEMAND Research Centre 2016 International Conference in Lancaster, UK.

Continue reading “Hilmar Schäfer – The transitive methodology of practice theory”

Allison Hui – ‘Configuring what comes next’: sampling

A Hui by H AlterIn their introduction to an edited collection on Inventive Methods, Celia Lury and Nina Wakeford acknowledge that inventive methods “are methods or means by which the social world is not only investigated, but may also be engaged” – that is, they are involved in “configuring what comes next” (2012, p6). While this is true of all methods – whether seemingly ‘new’ or ‘old’ – it is not often explicitly discussed in the traces circulating through research communities. This is particularly the case when considering the relationship between methodological and theoretical invention. Though it is necessary to explain how one conducted empirical research when writing papers, the conceptual implications and assumptions of methodological plans can be more sparsely addressed. Continue reading “Allison Hui – ‘Configuring what comes next’: sampling”

Blog at

Up ↑