© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2009 DOI: 10.1163/156853109X436784 Asian Journal of Social Science 37 (2009) 391–407 brill.nl/ajss Sociology and Beyond: Agency, Victimisation and the Ethics of Writing Gudrun Dahl Stockholm University Abstract During the last decades, development discourse has taken a neo-liberal turn. Parallel to this, the discourse of social science has become more oriented to matters of individual agency. Within the sociological and anthropological literature on development, this emphasis on individual agency is often expressed in terms of an explicit statement taken by the author that s/he wishes to correct an earlier (ethically inferior) emphasis on structure that is assumed to imply that the concerned people are passive victims. Problematising this ethics of scientiﬁ c writing, this paper will look at various discourses in which the concept of victimhood is used, seeing claims and disclaimers of victimhood as themselves being expressions of agency in a contestation over accountability, responsibility, recognition and possible indemniﬁ cation or blame. Keywords Agency, victimhood, discourse, recognition, ethics Introduction Contemporary texts in sociology and anthropology often position themselves morally by stating, “Th ese people are not victims, but agents.” Th e purpose of the present paper is to problematise the place of such
Asian Journal of Social Science – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2009
Keywords: DISCOURSE; AGENCY; VICTIMHOOD; ETHICS; RECOGNITION
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