Expert for a day: Theory and the tailored craft of ethnography1

Diana Graizbord, Michael Rodríguez-Muñiz, Gianpaolo Baiocchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sociologists exhibit growing interest in the politics of expertise. Analyses of evaluations, economic paradigms, blueprints, censuses, policy instruments and the like have come to occupy an important position in recent research. While much of this emergent scholarship has drawn on historical methods, a growing number of scholars have turned to ethnography. A close reading of this work reveals that ethnographers have actively tailored rather than passively transposed ethnography to the study of expertise. Departing from traditional conceptions of ethnography, these works exhibit growing attentiveness to movement, mediation, and materials. We argue that this retooling of ethnography is not merely a response to empirical realities but rather stems, at least in part, from the influence of science and technology studies, specifically Actor-Network Theory. This case provides the occasion to make a broader point about ethnography as a ‘theory/method package’: theory does not only shape what ethnographers study, but also how they conduct research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)322-344
Number of pages23
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017


  • actor-network theory
  • experts and expertise
  • materiality
  • mediation
  • movement
  • political sociology
  • theory/method package

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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