We aim to study a specific form of sociological imagination – the ‘situational imagination’ – as it appears in applied social research and in communities of practice relying on lay social knowledge.
We propose the concept of ‘situational imagination‘ or ‘situational ingenuity’ as a form of understanding actions as situated accomplishment, attributing agency to ‘equipped humans’ that act in social contexts. It is an alternative to trait-based understandings of action, that focus on the discovery of stable individual dispositions and attribute agency to individual persons.
We explore situational imagination in several settings of applied and lay social knowledge:
- marketing research
- professionals’ lay knowledge of organizational life
- fields of scientific research (in survey sociology and experimental psychology)
- online settings of knowledge production and communication (Quora, Wikipedia, serious games)
Our research objectives are:
1) To conceptualize the situational imagination as a form of sociological imagination;
2) To study how situational imagination is put to use in applied research and other forms of knowledge production, focusing on its rhetorical force: what do speakers / writers accomplish when attributing actions internally or externally?
3) To discuss the methodological value of this concept, in studies that rely on interviews and on analysis of naturalistic discourse