Sharing history

Rob Carroll is creating a remarkable archive of the history of performance analysis (link). Recently, he has made a significant investment in this history by commissioning writers to share the story of performance analysis.

My sociological training at York and the London School of Economics, has emphasised for me just how important such stories are. In their sharing, we get to learn more about the meaning analysts give to their undertanding (Max Weber called this verstehen).

I am passionately interested in the social construction of meaning and have been transformed in this regard by Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann (link). They introduce their book with:

Reality is socially constructed and the sociology of knowledge must analyse the process in which this occurs.

It is this sociology of knowledge that has driven me to include performance analysis histories in Clyde Street. It is why I admire so much what Rob is doing. The first publication in this process is an article about Dean Oliver (link) written by Robbie Dunne, an Irish based journalist who lives in Madrid (link).

I have taken it as axiomatic that the sociology of knowledge concerns itself with what passes for knowledge in a society. Growing up when I did, this sociology of knowledge has a very strong theme of cultural studies and necessarily includes etnographic ‘thick description’ (link).

Over the past decade, Clyde Street has enabled me to explore these connections. I have been keen to look closely at the quantitative turn in analytics during this time. This has allowed me the opportunity to consider a continuum of activities that include qualitative and quantitative dimensions neither of which excludes the other.

Some time ago, I took to heart Stephen Woolgar’s (1988) observation “natural scientific knowledge is a product of social, cultural, historical, and political processes”.

I embraced Stephen’s suggestion:

our understanding of the social science text benefits from a heightened appreciation of reflexivity—at its simplest, a term which connotes self-reflection and self-referral.

I believe these are all words that we must include in our language. It will be fascinating where we go next in Rob’s journey.

The process of developing a language has helped me profoundly and I can see how we as a profession might contribute to a shared and curated history of what we do. My journey has enabled me to meet some remarkable figures that are part of our story as analysts.

They are our history and our lineage.

Photo Credits

Wielrenners beklimmen bewaakte overweg (Flikr, Nationaal Archief, no known restrictions).

Dean Oliver (Twitter)

A Football Pink report of the Swindon Town v Bristol Rovers game, played on Saturday, 18 March 1950.


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