Against Narrative: A Preface to Lyrical Sociology

Sociological Theory 25 (1):67-99 (2007)
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Abstract

This article develops a concept of lyrical sociology, a sociology I oppose to narrative sociology, by which I mean standard quantitative inquiry with its "narratives" of variables as well as those parts of qualitative sociology that take a narrative and explanatory approach to social life. Lyrical sociology is characterized by an engaged, nonironic stance toward its object of analysis, by specific location of both its subject and its object in social space, and by a momentaneous conception of social time. Lyrical sociology typically uses strong figuration and personification, and aims to communicate its author's emotional stance toward his or her object of study, rather than to "explain" that object. The analysis considers many examples and draws on literary criticism, the philosophy of time, and the theory of emotion. It also addresses contemporary debates in ethnography.

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