On blackboxing


Christopher Kullenberg unpacking the black box of the survey as a research instrument:

Just like the anthrax bacilli needed to get in and out of Pasteur’s laboratory, as shown in the figure above, so is the case of questionnaires that the respondents need to fill out and return to the SOM-institute. The respondents are the microbes of society, and not until they are captured and counted, they can be transformed into ‘macrobes’ that speak in the name of society as a whole. Whereas Pasteur had to travel to the countryside to get his samples, the SOM-institute is utilizing mediating actors; the questionnaires are sent via the postal system, they are gathered by the Kinnmark contractor and turned into computer readable data, which is handed over to the institute and sent further to the researchers in the involved projects. If everything goes as planned, articles and reports can be written, news media can print articles covering the findings and circulate them back out to anyone who has an interest in a society described by the social sciences. To put it in Latourian vocabulary, to say something about macro-society, the SOM-institute needs to amplify a sample of micro-society through trials of strength.


2 Responses to “On blackboxing”

  1. Christopher Kullenberg Says:

    Thanks for reposting an excerpt from my text. Will make sure to publish more draft sections on my blog in a a near future. Makes dissertation-writing more fun :)

  2. PE Says:

    You’re welcome, Christopher, it’s good stuff! Looking forward to the next instalment.

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