Project Description

“Uncertainty is the only certainty”: how pragmatic sociology provides a theoretical framework for researching the third sector during COVID 19

Janis Petzinger, Tobias Jung, Kevin Orr

Voluntary Sector Review, 2021, forthcoming March

Abstract: This research note argues that pragmatic sociology is a useful theoretical framework when researching the third sector during the uncertain times of COVID-19 and beyond. It begins by introducing pragmatic sociology, which describes how actors express their values through the ‘orders of worth’ framework, and then how they justify their practices during moments of conflict, through the process of ‘tests’. This ultimately employs complex and fragile moments in history to uncover meaning making and, by extension, individual and organizational practice. This paper then demonstrates useful research questions that pragmatic sociology can offer for the third sector during this uncertain time and how pragmatic sociology’s utility can be applied even after the pandemic, due to its embracement of organizational dynamism, nuance, and fresh approach to power relationships.