Articulating Materialities in Social Science – SOS9007

November 09-11, 2021

​​​​​​​​Course code and name:
Number of points: 5 ECTs including paper
Course type: Elective
Study location: Bodø
Dates: November 09-11, 2021
Course coordinators: Associate professor Astri Dankertsen, Nord University;
professor Anne-Jorunn Berg, Nord University; professor Britt Kramvig, UIT the Arctic University of Norway
Teaching language: English
Teaching semester: Autumn 2021
Offered as independent course: Yes
Costs: The course is free for candidates admitted to a PhD program at Nord
University and UIT the Arctic University of Norway. Other candidates should pay a course fee of 1000
Evaluation: Oral evaluation at the end of the course


>> Application deadline for all applicants: October 15, 2021

Short introduction:

The course provides an advanced and critical introduction to theories of materialities in social science. Studies of materialities engage a wide range of research methods, fields of knowledge, and theoretical approaches; a multitude of seeing and doing partly depending on the purpose of the study at hand, on research traditions and on sources of inspiration. Focusing on concepts, methodologies, and ways of studying materialities empirically, the course pays particular attention to indigenous studies, feminist studies and actor network theory (ANT). 

How can we as social scientists investigate pressing heterogeneous issues which require an understanding of nature as lively and technologies as more than expressions of power relations? What kinds of research methods are suitable and how can we write about issues rarely addressed in the social sciences? These questions imply opening contested issues on ontology, too, the relationship(s) between technologies and the social, nature and culture, humans and non-humans as well as the-more-than human and posthumanism. We will discuss key perspectives, concepts, and theories in the broad church of social theories of materialism, explore central controversies and inquire into key research challenges in the field.

We are happy to announce Open University (UK) Emeritus Professor John Law as key-note speaker. Law is a central critical contributor to ANT; relentlessly pushing discussions and posing new research questions, twisting the taken for granted always reminding us “it could have been otherwise”.  In 2015 he was awarded the John Desmond Bernal Prize by the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) for his distinguished contribution to the STS field. We recommend students to familiarize themselves with his 2004 book After method: mess in social science research.  In a reflexive critical assessment of the book, he now wishes for a stronger focus on heterogeneous care-ful (Law’s spelling) research. The text (in press) will be made available to the participants as part of the course curriculum. 

Program TBA.​

Learning outcomes:


  • of key perspectives, concepts, and theories in the broad church of social theories of materialism
  • of central controversies and theoretical and empirical debates in the field
  • of key research challenges in the field


  • ​can assess critically the potential of theories of materialities for the social sciences
  • can select and apply relevant theories of materialism in own thesis project
  • can evaluate pros et cons in scientific debates on articulations of materialities in social science

General competence:

  • ​in possession of an extensive overview of key theories and controversies in the field
  • can develop a self-reflexive stance, theoretical framework and analytical perspectives in their own research
  • can engage in scientific discussions on central theories in the field


The course is open to students enrolled in a doctoral program.


For approval you need to be an active participant throughout the course, be present on all days, read the curriculum, and write a 5000-word paper that critically evaluates your own research agenda in dialogue with the themes and theories from the reading list (a minimum of two texts) discussed during the course. To pass the course, the paper must be sent to Astri Dankertsen,​, by 15 February 2022.



Mode of delivery:

Course venue for teaching and lunch (included) is Quality Hotel Ramsalt, Sjøgata 37/39, Bodø, Norway .​

Learning activities and teaching methods:

A combination of independent study and lectures, seminars, and discussions. A high degree of independent work is expected in connection with the writing of the paper.

Reading list:

TBA 550 – 600 pp. of compulsory reading.