Material Methods: Researching and Thinking With Things

Sophie Woodward

Language: English

Publisher: SAGE

Published: Sep 29, 2019


Material Methods brings together resources for researchers investigating both the material, as well as the social world through material objects we design, buy, make, exchange and collect.

It covers the whole research process, from theoretical underpinnings, selection of methods and their possible uses, as well as representing and analysing data. It introduces students and researchers to the wide range of cross-disciplinary methods which help us to approach and interpret material culture and materials. The book also provides students and researchers with the tools to critically reflect upon pre-existing methods to see their limitations as well as possibilities, and apply them to their own research practice.


This is the first comprehensive presentation and review of methods for the study of material things that incorporates the advances in material culture studies and a variety of anthropological and sociological developments of recent decades. It has extraordinary breadth including both the planning of research and the presentation of results, alongside considerations of analysis and theory, taken from a broad spectrum between art and science and all delivered in a clear and thoughtful style. There are many original ideas and suggestions for how to proceed. The result will be invaluable for students and researchers wanting to study our ever expanding world of material and visual culture. -- Daniel Miller

What an excellent book Sophie Woodward has written! In ‘Material Methods’ she brings into the methodological mainstream a sophisticated and provocative analysis of the possibilities of researching the material world, in a most timely way. She considers what it means for researchers to attune themselves to and engage with the vitality of ‘things’, in ways that will provoke and inspire them to think and research differently. In chapters that cover the whole research process and span a wide range of material methods, she deftly weaves a discussion that will help the reader to be theoretically astute, practically informed, and inspired to try out new approaches. Whether or not you plan to use material methods, this book has the potential to change not only the way you do your research, but also your theoretical take on the world. -- Jennifer Mason

An insightful synthesis of key currents in studies of materiality and an essential guide for actually doing materiality studies. This book will be invaluable in helping researchers and students understand the different ways they can work with objects in their research practice.

-- Ian Woodward --This text refers to the hardcover edition.

About the Author

Sophie Woodward is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Manchester; she carries out research into material culture, fashion and everyday lives and has a particular interest in creative qualitative methodologies. She is the author of serval books including Why Women Wear What they Wear (2007), Blue Jeans: the Art of Ordinary (with Daniel Miller, 2012) and Why Feminism Matters (2009 with Kath Woodward). She is currently carrying out research into Dormant Things (things that have accumulated in domestic spaces) which explore the hidden lives of things that are not currently being used through multiple material methods. She has a parallel interest in feminist theory and is currently writing a book on Birth and Death (with Kath Woodward).

--This text refers to the hardcover edition.