The Social Life of the Senses

Monday, 11 July 2016: 18:30
Location: Hörsaal BIG 1 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Kelvin LOW, Sociology, National University of Singapore, Singapore
Social science literature on the senses has proliferated in the last few decades, especially in the fields of sociology and anthropology. Departing from related works located within disciplines such as biology, psychology, and physiology, sensory studies argue for the senses as social, revealing important insights pertaining to selfhood, culture, and social relations. I delineate three interrelated sections that inform how sensory works have developed by first providing an adumbrated background with regard to the hierarchy of the senses, and the need therefore to move beyond the hegemony of vision. The second section includes not only how the senses have been theorized, but also comprises some notes on the senses and body of the researcher that is as important as those of whom we study. Another dimension of sensory methodology that warrants mention has to do with how one can articulate sensory lifeworlds with and beyond textual means. If the senses are regarded as avenues of lived experiences that at times, even respondents are not able to harness linguistic terminology with which to convey their experiences, then what resources might researchers be able to mobilize so as to pronounce data of the sensory type? Finally, a third section locates the development of sensory research in organizational terms, elucidating upon the various institutional efforts that have been pursued towards organizing sensory research and scholarly publications through different avenues. The article concludes with suggestions for the next step forward towards broadening the field of research that deliberates upon sensory transnationalism.