Time, Non-representational Theory and the "Performative Turn"—Towards a New Methodology in Qualitative Social Research


  • Peter Dirksmeier University of Bremen
  • Ilse Helbrecht University of Bremen




performance theory, non-representational theory, time, ritual, methodology


Because of their constitution, the usage of performative techniques in qualitative social research must deal with a paradox. Acting as performance takes place in the present and it takes place just once. One result of this is that every representation of a performance be it as text, discussion or film refers to the past. Performative social research solves this paradox by conceptualising performance as a kind of liminal phase of a ritual. Our thesis is that by simple outsourcing the problem of present in the theory of ritual, performative techniques commit the logical mistake of genetic fallacy, i.e., the mistake of forgetting that the primary value or meaning of an event has no necessary connections with its genesis in history. Therefore, a new methodology for qualitative social research after the performative turn requires a theoretical position which does not fall back to a position of causality as the temporal consequence of a cause and effect, as maintained by ritual theory. In this essay we suggest a "non-representational theory" for this venture, and point out how a methodology for qualitative research could be constituted "after" the performative turn. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0802558


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Author Biographies

Peter Dirksmeier, University of Bremen

Peter DIRKSMEIER is research associate at the department of geography, University of Bremen.

Ilse Helbrecht, University of Bremen

Ilse HELBRECHT is professor for applied geography at the department of geography and vice-chancellor of the University of Bremen.




How to Cite

Dirksmeier, P., & Helbrecht, I. (2008). Time, Non-representational Theory and the "Performative Turn"—Towards a New Methodology in Qualitative Social Research. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 9(2). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-9.2.385