New methods book from Little Tools
How to do document analysis? In a new textbook, Kristin Asdal and Hilde Reinertsen aim to help you with precisely this.
Asdal, Kristin and Hilde Reinertsen. Hvordan gjøre dokumentanalyse. En praksisorientert metode. Oslo: Cappelen Damm Akademisk.
Documents are everywhere. But how to study, analyse and follow them? By means of practice-oriented document analysis. This is what Kristin Asdal and Hilde Reinertsen suggest in their new textbook, where they start from a practice-based approach to documents and develop this into a novel methodological framework for the study of documents.
Documents is a strikingly underexploited resource, indeed a nearly undiscovered treasure for social research. We miss out on much, both as students and researchers, if we do not interest us more in investigating them, learn ways to analyse them and try to understand how they shape both our society and our everyday lives.
Documents in practice
Documents are not simply "discourses" that tells us about events taking place outside of the documents. Documents are in themselves tightly vowen into most societal and political questions, they shape the issues that affect us, and often play a central role in the research topics we seek to pursue.
Documents are the result of work done by many different people, and they are often written in order to achieve specific aims. Some may have wide-reaching influence, others have little or no significance. Documents move through society and through institutions - as letters and piles of paper, and increasingly in digital forms. They are edited, read, discussed and used. They describe societal issues, but also contribute to shaping these issues.
Offering methods for grasping all these different forms of document work is what Kristin Asdal and Hilde Reinertsen has aimed to do with this book.
A novel methodological framework
A key part of the ERC project LittleTools has been to establish practice-oriented document analysis as an interdisciplinary method for studying economics and politics. What in the project is titled "little tools" are precisely documents -- tools that may seem small and insignificant in isolation, yet that in practice and in combination may have great significance for democracy and policy development.
The methodological framework emphasises the practice dimension of documents: How texts shape issues, how we may approach documents as sites in which actions unfold, how documents are on the move, how they are written and shaped, and how they function as tools.
Concrete and practical advice
The book also contains a distinct part with concrete advice on how to document analysis in practice. This includes suggestions to how you may do archival work, how document studies may be combined with fieldwork and ethnographic methods, how you may best handle digital documents, as well as advice on how to ensure sound source criticism and how to adhere to regulations of research ethics. The book's final part introduces the scholarly traditions upon which the methodological framework has been built.
The book is published in Norwegian by Cappelen Damm Akademisk. An English version is forthcoming from SAGE Research Methods during winter 2021/2022.