An exploration of sociological research that is neither “detached” nor “engaged”; a new approach to sociological knowledge production, with examples from health care.
In this book, Teun Zuiderent-Jerak considers how the direct involvement of social scientists in the practices they study can lead to the production of sociological knowledge. Neither “detached” sociological scholarship nor “engaged” social science, this new approach to sociological research brings together two activities often viewed as belonging to different realms: intervening in practices and furthering scholarly understanding of them.
Just as the natural sciences benefited from broadening their scholarship from theorizing to experiment, so too could the social sciences. Additionally, Zuiderent-Jerak points out, rather than proceeding from a pre-set normative agenda, scholarly intervention allows for the experimental production of normativity. Scholars are far from detached, but still may be surprised by the normative outcomes of the interactions within the experiment.
Zuiderent-Jerak illustrates situated intervention research with a series of examples drawn from health care. Among the topics addressed are patient compliance in hemophilia home care, the organization of oncology care and the value of situated standardization, the relationship between standardization and patient centeredness, the development of patient-centered pathways, value-driven and savings-driven approaches to the construction of health care markets, and multiple ontologies of safety in care for older adults.
Finally, returning to the question of normativity in sociological research, Zuiderent-Jerak proposes an ethics of specificity according to which research adapts its sociological responses to the practices studied. Sociology not only has more to offer to the practices it studies; it also has more to learn from them.