Bite Size Theory: Tricks of the Trade

“I insisted earlier that researchers must learn to question, not accept blindly, what the people whose world they are studying think and believe. Now I have to say that at the same time they should pay attention to just that. After all, people know a lot about the world they live and work in. They have to know a lot to make their way through its complexities. They have to adjust to all its contradictions and conflicts, all the problems it throws their way. If they didn’t know enough to do that, they wouldn’t have lasted there this long. So they know, plenty.”

Howard Becker, 1998, Tricks of the Trade: How to Think about Your Research While You’re Doing It, University of Chicago Press.

Bite Size Theory: Designs on the Contemporary

“What judgments can we make about available forms for living, when we recognize the limits of all logoi to answer in a general and stable way questions of significance? This, we think, is the contemporary problematization of bios.”

Paul Rabinow and Anthony Stavrianakis, 2014, Designs on the Contemporary: Anthropological Tests, University of Chicago Press.

Bite Size Theory: The Government of Self and Others

“The seriousness of philosophy does not consist in giving men laws and telling them what the ideal city is in which they must live, but in constantly reminding them (those at least who wish to listen, since philosophy’s reality comes only from it being listened to), that the reality of philosophy is to be found in its practices, which are the practices of self on self and, at the same time, those practices of knowledge by which all the modes of knowledge, through which one rises and descends and which one rubs against each other, finally bring one face to face with the reality of Being itself.”

Michel Foucault, 2010, The Government of Self and Others. Lectures at the Collège de France 1982-1983, Picador.

Bite Size Theory: Alexis de Tocqueville

“Tocqueville is sometimes guilty of one of the most frustrating defects in a writer, that of not being clear enough to be wrong.”

Jon Elster, 2009, Alexis de Tocqueville: The First Social Scientist, Cambridge University Press.

Bite Size Theory: Persons and Things

“Kant, of course, warns against treating people as a means without also treating them as an end, which is not the same as excluding using people altogether. But using people has nevertheless acquired an entirely negative connotation (“I feel so used!”).

Barbara Johnson, 2012, Persons and Things, Harvard University Press.

Bite Size Theory: How to be Gay

“Subjectivity without psychology. There must be ways of getting at the inner life of human subjects, and of gay men in particular, without delving into the peculiar constitution of the individual. The study of social practices, aesthetic practices, styles, tastes, feelings – analyzed so as to disclose their internal structures, formal logic, cultural operation, meaning and distribution – could provide an alternative and fresh approach to human subjectivity.”

David Halperin, 2012, How to be Gay, Harvard University Press.