UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Fact and figure : the rhetoricity of the document Plecash, Jan S.


The least remarked of sociological practices is the one without which its investigations would come to a standstill: the writing up of research results, both theoretical and substantive. This inattention is dependent upon a widely held view of writing as a technical apparatus which is more or less competently employed by researchers to represent those features of the social world with which they are concerned. The question addressed is whether and to what extent this commonplace commits sociology to a very old version of representation and a companion account of the true, which when expressed in other idioms are readily identified as problematic. With the aid of a type of analysis known as deconstruction, it is shown that a technical construal of writing is inseparable from and indispensable to the construction of fact, and thus to the very idea of documentation as a sheerly mimetic or descriptive relation of writing to a referent. The idea of a document is accordingly treated as the most powerful expression of a largely unacknowledged system of sense-making organizing sociological discourse.

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