Moroccan dating protocols
Instead, I appeal to an older, but also notably pragmatic approach to social analysis (and one whose aim was also, at least in part, to break with totalizing concepts of society): the case study pioneered by Max Gluckman in “The bridge” (1940).
Working in an intellectual environment where the presumed context and object of analysis was society as a whole, Gluckman put forward the case study as an alternative analytical frame: one that did not presuppose its object, but allowed it to emerge from the material.
This article explores the social contexts and strategies of flirtation, seduction, and relationship-building in Southern Morocco.
Boltanski’s (2009a) recent analysis of that slippery sociological object, the institution, concludes that the ambiguity he identifies as its chief characteristic can be attributed to the fact that it exists in a perpetual oscillation between instantiation and reification, and, at the same time, this oscillation constitutes the very definition of what an institution is.
Where, for instance, is the conceptual red thread connecting the ideal-typology of modes of communication pioneered by Boltanski and Thévenot (1991) with William Hanks’ (1990, 2009) phenomenological investigations of deixis, and Nicolas Dodier’s (1995) ethnography of human/nonhuman relations on the factory floor?
What unity there is to this eclectic array can be attributed to a common desire to break with analyses that start from all-encompassing and fixed oppositions between, say, society and the individual or domination and resistance.
This, I suggest, is also pragmatism’s principal analytical weakness, in that the context whose definition is the product of analysis is also, all too frequently, the initial object of study.
Take, for example, ritual, which was both the analytical starting point for this collection of themed articles, and also a particularly clear example of the tendency toward circularity.
Their approach was, in other words, pragmatic, both in its everyday sense of focusing on what is effective, rather than what is right or true, and in its simultaneously more precise and yet somehow much broader usage within the social sciences.