Current research

My research can be broadly described as ‘the social life of concepts‘. It spans the fields of social and political theory, sociology of knowledge/social epistemology, political sociology and political economy, and philosophy of (social) science. More specifically, I research the relationship between modes of knowing about (that is, ideas, institutions, and practices of knowledge production), and modes of being in the world (that is, how they relate to economic, political and affective regimes).

My current research takes the concern about the relationship between ontology, epistemology, and social inequalities to reflect on current political transformations, including the climate crisis. It asks: how do systems, structures and practices of knowledge production relate to the future? What kind of narrative and methodological devices do they generate or use? What kind of futures do they envisage – and, concomitantly, what kind of futures do they prevent us from seeing?

This maps onto three (very much intersecting and overlapping) intellectual projects:

  • Relationship between epistemological and moral-political aspects of knowledge claims

How do epistemic positions map onto moral or political projects? What is the (explicit or implicit) moral value of knowledge? How do different disciplines and institutions of knowledge production present, justify, and negotiate their value, power, and authority? Simultaneously, how do different forms of epistemic positioning shape or contribute to social inequalities, including class, gender and ethnicity/race?

For longer reflections on these topics, see here, here or here.

  • Non-reciprocity as social norm

Currently (2022-3) I am writing a book on this topic. For short(er) reflections, see here and here.

  • Relationship between knowledge, prediction, and agency

Both policy and everyday discourses assume the link between knowledge and agency. That is, increased awareness of the causes as well as consequences of specific occurrences, objects, or events, is assumed to correlate with a wider scope of possible reactions in relation to them. How do social systems for mediating knowledge and expertise – from education institutions to social media – interact with this link? What does the context of pluralisation of ‘legitimate’ ways of knowing (and the disputes surrounding validity of knowledge) mean for how people act and reflect on their actions? How do people and systems for knowledge production ‘back-propagate’ predictions of election or referendum outcomes, natural disasters, or wars? How do concepts of ‘agnotology’ or ignorance link to this?

For some of my work in this area, see here and here.

My broader theoretical project is building a relational ontology of knowledge production. The relational ontology of knowledge production combines elements of existentialist philosophy and ethics with feminist and standpoint epistemologies. It centres the relationship between knowledge producers (or epistemic subjects) and collective, institutional, and material arrangements of knowledge production to reflect on questions of authority, reflexivity and self-knowledge (or self-ignorance) as well as their moral, ethical, and political implications. These implications concern topics such as climate change, Open Access, public engagement or expertise. This article in Social Epistemology offers a theoretical summary of some of these arguments, as does the accompanying blog post.