In the course of sociological research about the Internet, an accompanying range of new methodological approaches have been developed to investigate usage, communication, processes of appropriation, and the virtuality of the Internet. However, the exploration of the Internet as a technological and material object as well as the question of how it is involved in human practices are seen more rarely. This paper presents a methodology of software-based recording and an analysis of the interactions between humans and the Internet, which are visible on the screen. Adding methods of usability and market research to sociological Internet research, this enables us to “move closer” to the technology and to get a detailed view of human practices and Internet “actions” on the interface; therewith, it will be possible to investigate how social practices proceed when Internet technologies are involved, how users handle the Internet and to what extent it enables, facilitates, limits, or hinders practices.
In addressing mounting environmental problems in recent years, many Iranian environmentalists have increasingly adapted discourses and implemented programs that are modeled on scientific ecology. Does this mean the verbatim transfer of Western scientific modernity in Iran? My analyses suggest otherwise. This article explores the unique ways in which a burgeoning environmental awareness unfolds in Iranian contexts by investigating how conceptions of "nature" shape the environmentalists' discourses and practices. It appears that an ecological scientific conception of nature is becoming an important frame of reference among such environmentalists. However, another conception of nature-one framed in relation to Iranian nationhood-makes a key contribution to environmentalism in Iran. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in 2009-2011 in Tehran, this study demonstrates how "Iranian nature" is delineated and practiced through the environmentalists' (re)engagements with certain objects-maps, posters, and photographs-in relation to which local ways of conceptualizing nature are elaborated.
Philipp W. Stockhammer
In recent times, archaeology has seen continuously growing interest from neighboring disciplines desiring to capitalize on archaeology's experience with the evaluation of material culture. In order to be able to answer the questions now posed to our field of research, we have to be conscious of our methods and their epistemological potential. On the basis of a characterization of archaeological sources, this article focuses on four relevant fields of inquiry with regard to the archaeological analysis of an object, that is, its materiality, archaeological context, spatial distribution, meanings, and power. Moreover, I suggest that an integration of aspects of Bruno Latour's Actor-Network Theory will enable archaeologists to gain further insights into the complex entanglement of humans and objects in the past.
Today, the insight that material objects are an important part of social life is widely recognized in the social and cultural sciences. But how exactly do things affect the microlevel of social interaction? And by which methodological means can their significance for it be explored? Based on a study of Catholic liturgy, an ethnographic approach is developed that allows for systematic investigations into the role material objects play in social situations. Using Erving Goffman's frame analysis as a theoretical tool, it assumes that things are constitutive of social situations while in turn helping participants make sense of these situations. Conversely, the impact of things is considered closely tied to their particular situational involvement. In order to explore the connections between materiality, meaning, and use, I suggest investigating a number of closely related aspects: the contribution of things to the specifics of the situation in question; the bodily practices in which they are involved; the physical environment in which they are embedded; the physical qualities they possess; and the social definitions tied to them.
Competing Forms of Knowledge in Rachel's Tomb in Tiberias
that against the current flux and uncertainty of what counts as truth, we need to take materiality more seriously in our ethnography of pilgrimage sites. Further, complementing previous understandings that have emphasized sacred texts as sufficient
Experimenting with Material Strategies in Spatial Exhibition Design
A museum exhibition allows for close encounters with material objects. However, the distancing effect of the glass surfaces of display cases, as well as twodimensional text and picture panels, often seems to counteract the visitor’s sense of experiencing the three-dimensional material qualities of museum objects. In order to challenge this distancing effect, this article proposes an approach to spatial exhibition design that takes material aspects of both museum objects and exhibition design practices into close consideration. By developing the concept of material proximity, the article investigates the intimate space between museum object and visitor in which the object’s material qualities can be activated and interpreted. Based on an interdisciplinary bridging between different concepts of materiality from museum studies and architecture, the article concretizes the concept of material proximity through empirical analysis of a series of experimental display designs carried out at Medical Museion (the medical museum of the University of Copenhagen).
An important issue in contemporary social theory is how social thought can systematically take materiality into account. This article suggests that one way social theory can do so is by working with an ontology that treats materiality as part of society. The article presents one such ontology, according to which social phenomena consist in nexuses of human practices and material arrangements. This ontology (1) recognizes three ways materiality is part of social phenomena, (2) holds that most social phenomena are intercalated constellations of practices, technology, and materiality, and (3) opens up consideration of relations between practices and material arrangements. A brief practice-material history of the Kentucky Bluegrass region where the author resides illustrates the idea that social phenomena evince changing material configurations over time.
Laurie Kain Hart
effects made visible in the material-infrastructural world. The presence of scores of abandoned but architecturally impressive buildings in the border zone landscape of the Prespa Lakes in northwest Greek Macedonia puzzled me on my first visit in 1993. The
Insights from Jordan
through control of material space? How have other changes to the built environment inadvertently constrained or limited possibilities for protests? Building on the existing scholarship on protest and public space, this article aims to articulate the
Material things and phenomena have come to vie with belief and thought as worthy subjects of inquiry in the interdisciplinary study of religion. Yet, to the extent that we are justified in speaking of a “material turn”, no consensus has arisen about what materiality is or does. This article offers a preliminary sketch of the diverse terrain of material religion studies, delineating three dominant approaches to religious materiality as well as an emerging alternative. It argues that the dominant approaches—respectively characterized by an emphasis on symbolism, material disciplines, and phenomenological experience—continue to privilege the human subject while material things themselves struggle to come into sharp focus. That is, they remain anthropocentric and beholden to the biases against materiality deeply entrenched in the study of religion. Such biases may be negotiated more successfully via the emerging alternative “new materialism”.