Practice Theory Methodologies



The ‘right’ methods and conversations

Russell Hitchings: “If you’re thinking about practice as a kind of invitation to explore the world or phenomena through a range of interesting ways, I like that. I think that’s probably a good way to go. But I think that could be communicated more effectively because I think often people have a tendency to think, “Ok, am I doing it right?” when they are applying it.

Continue reading “The ‘right’ methods and conversations”


Sideways techniques

I think [practice theories] make even bigger methodological demands than sometimes realized. …

So people, institutions, and consequently archives, do not tend to speak of practices. … There is one exception, and that is Monty Python with the Ministry of Silly Walks. But I think that is telling that we have ministries that deal with housing – that is about the housing stock, not necessarily about housing practices …

we really have to think perhaps harder, more creatively about sideways methodological research techniques that allow us to get closer to the actual practice.

Digital methodologies and domestic energy practices workshop

For those curious about the intersection of practice theories and digital methodologies, this upcoming event that has been brought to our attention might be of interest:

Digital methodologies and domestic energy practices workshop

19-20th October 2016, Centre for Housing Research, University of St Andrews

Continue reading “Digital methodologies and domestic energy practices workshop”

Join the discussion

If you are interested in the relationship between practice theories (broadly writ) and methodologies, we would be interested to hear your responses, reactions, and revisions to the Propositions for Discussion. Please get in touch with Hilmar ( or Allison ( to find out more about contributing your own post to this blog.

Panel discussion on practice theory and methodology

We have discussed methodological issues of practice theory in a panel during the conference What Energy is For: The Making and Dynamics of Demand at Lancaster University, which was organised by the DEMAND Centre.

The panel members Ben AndersonAlison BrowneRussell Hitchings, and Frank Trentmann engaged with the propositions presented in this blog in relation to their own work. The panel was organised by Allison Hui and Hilmar Schäfer.

You can listen to the audio recording of all panel presentations and the discussion.

In addition, the contribution by Alison Browne can be read here on the blog.


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)

Sahakian and Wilhite (2014)

While social practice theory represents a promising theoretical framework, it could benefit from becoming more “practicable”

  • in Journal of Consumer Culture 14(1), p27


Paul Klee (1961)

We do not undertake analyses of works because we want to copy them or because we suspect them. We investigate the methods by which another has created his work, in order to set ourselves in motion.

  • from ‘The concept of analysis’ in Notebooks, Vol 1, p99

Blog at

Up ↑