Performative Social Science: A Consideration of Skills, Purpose and Context

Brian Roberts
This article reviews recent work applying a notion of 'performance' in the study and representation of lives. It tries to clarify some of the issues involved - including the meaning of 'performance' - and 'performative' - the range of possible approaches (e.g., in addition to drama-other arts) and the relationship between 'subjects', 'researcher' and 'audience'. An immediate concern is the nature of the researcher - as having the necessary skills and abilities or knowledge involved in
more » ... ce' (in researching, writing, recording and representing), as engaged (to some extent) in 'artistic' endeavour, and moving between a number of 'roles' and social relations in 'performing' with/ to others (the 'researched' group, audience and society). An important issue for social science in crossing or bridging the social science-arts, in taking up 'performative approaches', is 'What remains distinctive about the social science if it becomes involved with performance approaches?' As a source for comparison (and inspiration), some brief reference will be made to the work of Kandinsky - who moved across disciplinary boundaries and artistic practices - as ethnographer, painter, teacher, designer, theorist and poet. Finally, perhaps, there is a deeper 'turn' indicated by the 'turn to performance' in the study of lives, a more 'complete' portrait of the individual as an active, communicative and sensual being.
doi:10.12759/hsr.34.2009.1.307-353 fatcat:fsp65avxrngefencnb6k64vy5m