Being undisciplined: doing justice to the immensity of human experience

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This monograph has been an appraisal of the anthropology of Britain as a project. In this final piece, the volume is reviewed and an argument is made along Kierkegaardian lines. Human life is an inward, personal adventure, of each in the face of the other: life is individual and possessed of infinite depth. Conducting social-scientific research (whether ‘anthropological’ or ‘sociological’) in a language – verbal, gestural and conventional – with which the researcher is ‘at home’ enables that individual and inward life, and its public and social dimensions, to be apprehended with a subtlety and sophistication far more difficult to acquire in ‘foreign’ settings. Anthropology ‘at home’ is ideally placed to differentiate between the cultural forms of life, the social structures of life, and how these are individually inhabited and personally experienced. To do justice to human life – descriptive, analytic – is to apprehend an immensity – a complexity and contrariety – beyond the delimitings of partial labels and categories, even beyond particular disciplines of study.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-204
Number of pages9
JournalThe Sociological Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2017


  • Britain
  • Labels
  • Existence
  • Individuality
  • World-view
  • Life-project
  • Symbolic interpretation


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