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Visiting scholar seminar | Thinking with Problems: Sociology and the craft of description


A Social Sciences seminar presented by Dr Nicole Vitellone, AF Warr Senior Lecturer in the School of Sociology at the University of Liverpool

Start Date

12 Dec 2018 3:00 pm

End Date

12 Dec 2018 4:00 pm


Social Sciences Rm 312, Sandy Bay campus

RSVP / Contact

No RSVP necessary. For enquiries please contact

Nicole Vitellone is AF Warr Senior Lecturer in Sociology in the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology at the University of Liverpool. Her research to date has focused on harm reduction policies and practices and she has published widely on these areas. Her recent book Social Science of the Syringe (Routledge, 2017) is an investigation of Needle Exchange programs from a socio-material perspective.

Howard Becker's methodological practice of description has been debated, critiqued and renewed in a range of fields including sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, STS, drug policy and research and more recently Heather Love's (2015) appraisal of deviance studies. Much of this debate concerns the uses of social research methods and their political effects.

Taking up these concerns with the construction of social scientific knowledge, Nicole's presentation returns to the problem of description in Becker's work. Focusing on his research on drug use and deviance (Becker 1953, 1963, 1967, 1998) she addresses the methodological problem of description in the research process and the effects of the descriptive method for situating knowledge of the problem. In reviewing the methodological relevance of problems as a tool for thinking sociologically, she evaluates the contribution of Becker's pragmatic methodology for a politics of knowledge production. In so doing, she demonstrates how problems are transformative meetings of methods, objects, publics and disciplinary practices.

This event is hosted by the School of Social Sciences and the Institute for the Study of Social Change


Institute for Social Change
University of Tasmania
Private Bag 44


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