Rematerialising the Commodity in Social Theory: Performativity, Iconicity and Object Transitioning

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 9:15 AM
Room: 302
Oral Presentation
Ian WOODWARD , Griffith University, Australia
The frontiers of social theory and cultural inquiry have been advanced by the affordances of object-oriented analyses and, more critically, a material ontology. Objects, things and materials are the stuff of new ecologies of meaning and practice, whereby social structures, global networks, cultural ideals, social values and human bodies have been shown to be materially fashioned and constituted. Studies of object ecologies, material culture and things have challenged how we think about the nature of mundane experiences, modes of social communication and performance, and networks of social affiliation. In all of these fields, the material basis of social life has been uncovered and emphasised. As it has matured, material analysis has tended to bifurcate into interpretivist and materialist approaches, leaving approaches to materiality at something of a crossroads. One the one hand, strongly materialist approaches tend to fetishise material dimensions and relational, systemic patterns of exchange, while interpretivist approaches focus on patterns of signification and meaning. Using the central sociological category of the commodity, this paper explores opportunities for integrating these approaches with special focus on the relatively new cultural sociological resources of performance theory and theories of iconicity.