This article explores the strong tie betweeb writing and anthropology. For Social sciences
in general and for anthropology in particular writing has always been a fundamental feature of field research. So the recent transformations in anthropological ephistemology and methodology have changed not only anthropology research objects bur also the role of writing, that has become even more important. Marc Augé is one of the most important anthropologists whose thought has taken to a significant renewal of that discipline and in this paper he offers his authoritative poin of view on writing and anthropology.
In this article the author supports the hypothesis that a sociologist, or generally speaking a
social scientist, is a writer, even it is necessary to distinguish between uno scrivente (a sheer writing
subject) and uno scrittore (a writer strictly speaking), the difference being represented by the
quality of writing of the latter as compared to the former: in particular, a writer-sociologist will
make use of personal and discretionary choices as concerns written language. On the other hand,
the author illustrates some examples drawn by contemporary poetry in order to show how literary
production can contribute to give remarkable sociological insights. In conclusion, the article
suggests that social sciences can learn about their own subjects and issues from literature.
Taking their inspiration from philosophy, human sciences have learnt that collecting people’s
life history is fundamental to understand and clarify situations and the «lebenswelt» of
human beings. Life histories and the narrations of self provide the human scientist a deeper
wiew and comprehension of the causes and reasons that other methodologies, such as observation,
cannot get. Everyone is a storyteller of himself and such narrations of self enable us to
know the invisible and the inner life of all our similars. Starting from this convinction Duccio Demetrio sees writing as a fundamental exercise that everyone should do in order to get a better
knowledge of himself. An exercise that is also and mainly a pleasure and a way to «play seriously
» with our own identity.
The essay should give pleasure, as Virginia Woolf would put it, the essay must be «pure like
water or pure like wine». Unfortunately, most efforts in this direction are being destroyed these
days since writing in a standardized, arid, and academic English is a must if you want your essay to
be accepted and taken seriously by the scientific community. Over the last decades the essay in the
social sciences received valuable contributions from poetry, literature and philosophy. The contaminatio
generum contributes in a positive way to the pleasure on the part of the reader, and of «tired
people coming home in the evening» (V.W.), too. This phenomenon happens to occur, for instance,
in Gasparini’s sociological writings, where the contributions of his different souls (the poet, the critic,
the social scientist) amalgamate in a most agreeable and pleasant «interstitial» writing.
After the linguistic turn in Social Sciences, the investigation on how Sociology should be
communicated has become a central issue for postmodernists. The choice of pursuing a narrative
sociology is not inspired only by the new paradigm of communication. It takes into account
the changes in the sociological field which affect the ways of communication, the relation with
expert audiences and the self-representation patterns of this discipline. The theory of this essay
is that, within the context of the ethnographic research on the field (in particular the Grounded
Theory), the sociologist engages in practices which have a certain affinity to literary work, as he
plays a role of storyteller and painstaking manager of the written material related to the collection
and interpretation of data. In all the main stages of the research process Sociology builds
theories and at the same time communicates its results by means of an articulated writing which
should be treated with the greatest care and attention.
Within a very extended historical perspective, we could connect to the beginning of the
modern paedagogical era, with the debate between the classicist and the modernists concerning
the question of curriculum. Coming to our times, we can identify the confrontation between the
ones who privilege the «high writing» (rhetoric, poetry, etc.) and the ones who privilege the
«low writing» (technical languages, functional symbolizations, etc.). The challenge to meet can
be conceptualized in terms of democratizing the «high» in order to guarantee the access to the
treasures of humanism to every child. This can be thought of as a third and really postmodern
instructional model, based on the idea of mixing the values of decribing and representing with
the values of imagining and transfiguring.
«Science» and «literature» have been considered, for very long time, as two separate
domains because of their different relationship with «objectivity». This dicothomy has its roots
in the logocentric tendency of western thought and culture. After the social sciences «linguistic
turn» and the consequent adfirmation of a post-modernist and post-logocentric sensibility the
border between literature and (mainly social) sciences hase become more and more permeable
and the same distinction between the two spheres has been interpreted in rethorical terms, as a
difference between two genres of writing. This article explores reasons and paths that have led to
such revenge of the literary domain reflecting both at the epistemological and sociological level.
This article examines roles and aims of writing in Social sciences and in literature analysing
and comparing the works of the sociologist Edgar Morin and the athropologist Marc Augé. In
thei wide intellectual production, these authors, in fact, share the same tendency to use different
genres of writing. Beside of their scientific production, both Augé and Morin have published
also diaries, essays and, in Augé’s case, even novels. This paper try to read such tendency
in writing experiments as indicator of the authors’ capability to produce an interdisciplinary
This paper contributes to studies on the social use of written communication by analysing
the relationship of physicists with writing. It addresses issues with particular regard to the
debate on whether or not the language used by scientists is comparable to literary language.
The basic idea is that in literary writing images are always only comments on the text, an interstitial
part of the message. Instead, when the text becomes a commentary on the images (captions,
comics), writing loses its literary character. Physicists make ample use of images (photographs,
tables, graphs) in their publications and presentations to conferences. A brief analysis
of empirical materials shows that physicists usually employ verbal language to support acoustically
or mentally a discourse which in itself is intrinsically iconic. They are subject to the ambiguity
having to rely on writing to state and solidify their knowledge claims while at the same
time being unable to use a literary style but only one interstitial to iconic instruments of communication.