© 2016

The Adventure of Relevance

An Ethics of Social Inquiry


  • Engages critically and creatively with contemporary theories and debates in philosophy, social theory and the social sciences more bradly.

  • Draws on the tradition of process philosophy and speculative empiricism.

  • Develops a new concept of 'relevance' that renders it not the product of a subjective act of interpretation, but an event that is part and parcel of the immanent, multiple and heterogeneous processes by which the facts that compose situations come to matter.


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. Martin Savransky
    Pages 1-23
  3. Martin Savransky
    Pages 25-55
  4. Martin Savransky
    Pages 57-87
  5. Martin Savransky
    Pages 89-120
  6. Martin Savransky
    Pages 121-151
  7. Martin Savransky
    Pages 153-179
  8. Martin Savransky
    Pages 181-207
  9. Martin Savransky
    Pages 209-219
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 221-248

About this book


At a time where the relevance of the social sciences is under threat, this innovative book offers a speculative experimentation on the philosophy and methodology of the social sciences to rethink what 'relevance' is, and to cultivate a new ethos of knowledge-making for an eventful world. Engaging a diverse a range of thinkers including Alfred North Whitehead, Gilles Deleuze and Isabelle Stengers, as well as the American pragmatists John Dewey and William James, Martin Savransky challenges longstanding assumptions in the social sciences and argues that relevance is an event that is part and parcel of the immanent and situated processes by which things come to matter. He develops new conceptual tools for cultivating an empiricist ethos of inquiry that is attuned to the question of how things come to matter– an ethics that turns social inquiry into a veritable adventure. The result is an original and rigorous book that infuses knowledge-practices in the social sciences with new sensibilities, creative possibilities, and novel habits of thinking, knowing, and feeling.


Pragmatism Philosophy of the social sciences Methodology Empiricism Alfred North Whitehead Gilles Deleuze Isabelle Stengers

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of LondonDepartment of Sociology Goldsmiths University of LondonLondonUnited Kingdom

About the authors

Martin Savransky is a Lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK, where he teaches philosophy, social theory, and methodology. He works at the intersection of process philosophy, the philosophy and methodology of the social sciences, and the ethics and politics of knowledge. 

Bibliographic information


“This brilliant and insightfully written book might just change the social sciences and the way in which they matter to us. Martin Savransky makes a creative wager, an experimental proposition, the most convincing and the most promising one: to give the social sciences an appetite for new forms of inventiveness, to arouse the taste for transforming their inquiries into possible adventures and for taking care of their manners of knowing without giving up the obligations which constitute the value of their knowledge and practices.” (Vinciane Despret, Université de Liège, Belgium)

“Martin Savransky’s book is a very welcome contribution to a new pragmatism in social inquiry. Explicitly empiricist, and speculative, it aligns ‘early pragmatism’s’ innovative engagement with the ‘experimental method’ applied across different spheres of activity, with recent French philosophy to propose that the adventure of inquiry consists in its (re)making of worlds as it is itself (re)made through them . This is a novel and challenging work that demands our engagement.” (John Holmwood, University of Nottingham, UK)

“In an era where the social and human sciences are struggling for survival, Martin Savransky proposes a bold reconstructive agenda centred on the issue of relevance. This is not relevance in the form of a question, a demand or a judgement. For Savransky relevance is an event that belongs immanently to the world. In The Adventure of Relevance he proposes that by restoring relevance to the world real possibilities emerge for alternative knowledge practices. This is a timely and incisive intervention that locates this book as a must read for anyone passionate about the future of the social and human sciences today.” (Lisa Adkins, BHP Billiton Chair of Sociology, University of Newcastle, Australia)

“At a time when social life increasingly seems to be reduced to a matter of collecting and manipulating huge datasets, and incessantly reiterating the same  few memes, Martin Savransky recalls us to the need for practices of speculation and invention.” (Steven Shaviro, Wayne State University, USA)