Archives de l’auteur : simonsmith

Narratives and arguments at Leicester IPA conference

Tomáš Dvořák & Simon Smith

Institute of Sociological Studies, Charles University in Prague

On July 7th 2017 a panel “Narrativizing institutional crises” took place at the Interpretive Policy Analysis (IPA) conference in Leicester, UK. The panel was organized with a specific goal. It was to focus on narratives of crisis, accounts and descriptions of disorder, failures and dysfunctions of public policies, organizations and even institutions.  Our hunch was that narrative accounts of crisis can, and often actually do, influence and shape the development of organizational fields and institutions. By viewing narratives of crisis as discursive/rhetorical tools for defining and disputing the legitimacy of institutional arrangements we aimed to tackle the issue of interrelations between narrativization and institutional change.

The panel was chaired by Simon Smith with Francis Chateauraynaud participating as discussant. The presentations of Kateřina Merklová & Tomáš Dvořák, Anna Durnová and James Beresford  sparked an intriguing discussion, which we have extended at subsequent reunions of our research team in Prague, Narrativisation of crisis and institutions in party politics and public policy (Simon Smith, Jiří Kabele, Karel Čada, Tomáš Dvořák a Kateřina Merklová).

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Using speech acts formulas to describe the narrative structure of affaires

Simon Smith

Institute of Sociological Studies, Charles University in Prague


Prospéro is a tool for use by sociologists interested in argumentation: it helps identify and explore the ‘argumentatively strong moments’ (Chateauraynaud 2011: 118) within large corpuses usually based around public controversies. Given, however, that the notion of a discursive configuration or discursive regime is certainly broad enough to encompass narrative as well as argumentative modes of expression or ways of knowing (Chateauraynaud 2003: 83), and that one of Prospéro’s strengths is undoubtedly its sensitivity to questions of time and temporality (identifying turning points in argument trajectories, for example), it is surprising that narrativity remains an underdeveloped area of its conceptual armoury, and that few researchers (to my knowledge) have used Prospéro to explore the narrative structure of corpuses (for an exception see Cézanne-Bert & Hériard-Dubreuil 2014).

In the project I lead at Charles University in Prague on Crisis narrativisation and institutions in politics and public policy we set ourselves two technical-methodological goals: one is to adapt Prospéro for use with Czech texts (perhaps this will be the subject of a later post). The other is to test whether Prospéro can in fact aid the search not only for the argumentatively but also for the narratively strong moments of large corpuses. In this post I want to introduce a way to use formulas in combination with a categorisation of verbs (épreuves) by type of speech act, which represents a promising first step in our effort to investigate narrativity.

The main protagonists in the Berbr affaire, Roman Berbr and Libor Kovařík (Pavel Mazáč, Deník Sport)

The connection between speech acts and narrativity

One way of introducing the theory of speech acts (developed principally by John Searle) is to start from distinction between different classes of speech acts according to how they mediate the relationship between the ‘word’ and the ‘world’. Hence a speech act, for Searle, can have one, both or neither of two ‘directions of fit’.

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Studying and practising justifying and accounting

Contextualisation as a research technique for staging controversies over field boundaries

Simon Smith,

Marie Curie Research Fellow, Institute for Sociology, Slovak Academy of Sciences.

Simon Smith has begun a collaboration with Prospéro’s team and network of developers, in order to adapt procedures and grids to a new kind of materials. This text is the starting point of a series of contributions and discussions, which will go on next year during the seminar on socio-informatics held at EHESS in Paris.


If understanding what kind of case you’ve got (typical, critical, extreme, paradigmatic etc.) can emerge during the course of case study research (Flyvbjerg 2006) – and probably has to for fluid organisational settings and emerging fields – can you turn this from a liability to an asset? Flyvbjerg thought you could do so by cultivating a reactive, continual readiness to reinterpret. I argue that you can also in another, more proactive sense: by employing contextualisation as a research technique. Continuer la lecture