• Three sump concepts: an exhortation to critical social scientists

    John Welsh (see profile)
    Critical theory, Culture--Study and teaching, Social sciences--Philosophy, Research--Methodology, Philosophy, Continental, Discourse analysis
    Item Type:
    conceptual analysis, Negative Dialectics, Strucuralism, Cultural studies, Philosophy of social science, Research methods, Continental philosophy, Evolution
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    Do we not find that the repetitive deployment of certain phrases and words in academic language entails a conceptualisation of meaning into objects that are thereafter encountered daily not as thoughts or ideas but merely as a socio-cultural force? Is it not necessary to identify and illuminate them, and to contrive some sort of resistance to their potent, though unrecognised, illocutionary effects? This article concerns the everyday cultural practices of academic life. It is an attempted intervention into the mundane language use of academics in order to impact critically upon the ongoing and constant articulation of certain culturally latent assumptions into political effects. I argue that within the social and human sciences ‘sump concepts’ are those extremely common concepts that recur in analysis and explanation due to their easy accessibility and to the function that they serve in reproducing certain discourses of social power. In particular, they constitute territorialisations of language, linguistic creations that close off polyvocity, contingency and possibility through identitythinking into sutured and reactionary conceptualisations. I present a selection of three sump concepts that have become thoroughly imbricated into the discursive culture of academic life – Bottom- Up, Evolution, and Concrete – and that are complacently resorted to on a daily basis in social science research and in social discourse. By exploring their potencies, purposes and pitfalls, I demand a more cautious and considered deployment of these concepts in our academic discourses, and advocate for a critical practice of negative dialectics.
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    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    5 years ago
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