• ff-1

New Book – Diagramming the Social: Relational Method in Research

A Book by Russell Dudley-Smith and Natasha Whiteman, published by Routledge

This book challenges the hyper-production and proliferation of concepts in modern social research. It presents a distinctive methodological response to this tendency through an exploration of one of the most underappreciated yet widely deployed conventions for the analysis of social processes: the creation of diagrammatic relational spaces. Designed to capture social processes in a way that resists reductive and essentialist categories, such spaces have the capacity to produce powerful, systematic analyses that break the spell of concept proliferation and its resultant naively realist approach to explaining the world. Through an exploration of key examples and series of original case studies, the authors demonstrate the application of this approach across a variety of empirical settings and academic disciplines. They thus offer a relational and pragmatic approach to social research that resists current trends characterised by supposedly self-evident data and/or disconnected theory. As such, the book constitutes an important contribution to some of the central questions in current social research, and promises to unsettle and reinvigorate considerations of method across different fields of practice.


Table of Contents:


1. The sorcerer’s apprentice syndrome

2. Diagrams as metaphors of containment

3. At the crossroads: The struggle to escape categorical diagramming

4. Relational diagramming

5. Ignorance vs. knowledge in the study of gender and technology

6. Diagramming relational research: Disentangling relationality from realism


Image: Routledge, book cover

Natasha Whiteman


I am a Reader in Media and Communication and Assistant Head, School of Media and Communication at the University of Westminster. My background is in film and media studies, and I have a PhD in Education from the Institute of Education, University of London. I joined the School in August 2020, having previously worked at the University of Leicester and, before that, at the Institute of Education.

My research focuses on ethics, qualitative research method, and the study of media audiences and online fan communities. I am the author of Diagramming the Social: Relational Method in Research (with Russell Dudley-Smith) (Routledge, in press) and Undoing Ethics: Rethinking Practice in Online Research (Springer, 2012).

My ESRC-funded PhD examined pedagogic activity within online television and videogame fan communities and in 2009 I secured funding from the British Academy for a project looking at the ethical manoeuvring of media audiences. I am currently completing a project examining the affective dimension of cultural work in the context of the closure of an independent DVD-rental store, and am developing a new project looking at modes of apprenticeship and creativity within contemporary makeup culture.

My work has been published in journals including the British Educational Research Journal; Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies; Journal of Fandom Studies; Forum: Qualitative Social Research; International Journal of Internet Research Ethics; Participations: International Journal of Audience and Reception Studies; and Qualitative Research.

I have served as ethics advisor for Horizon 2020 projects, chaired an Ethics Committee at the University of Leicester, and am a member of the Association of Internet Researchers Ethics Committee.

I welcome enquiries from prospective PhD students with interests in the above areas.


14 September 2020
Published By
Share this article
CAMRI | New Book - Diagramming the Social: Relational Method in Research - CAMRI
class="pirenko_portfolios-template-default single single-pirenko_portfolios postid-4165 samba_theme samba_left_nav samba_left_align samba_responsive thvers_85 wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-6.5.0 vc_responsive"