Doing new materialist data analysis: a Spinozo-Deleuzian ethological toolkit

Nick J Fox, Pam Alldred

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


With growing social science interest in new materialist and posthuman ontologies, it is timely to explore how these may translate practically into social research methodologies. This task is complicated by differing interpretations of how new materialist precepts should shape research. This paper aims to fill a gap in the literature by setting out a methodology using one specific thread within the new materialisms: Deleuzian ‘ethology’. Inspired by Spinoza’s Ethics, Deleuze established a conceptual toolkit for ethological inquiry, comprising ‘relation’, ‘assemblage’, ‘affect’ and ‘capacity’. We show how this toolkit translates into a design for analysing empirical data. Effective data analysis also depends on the adequacy and appropriateness of earlier stages in the research process. We therefore also consider an ethological approach to setting a research question, choosing data collection methods and presenting study findings. We conclude with some reflections on the challenges of translating philosophical theory into social science methodology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)625-638
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Social Research Methodology
Issue number5
Early online date3 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2022


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