thoughts on Studio Sociology

The notion of doing sociological enquiry “in the studio” understands research as a practice of thinking about a particular topic in a physical and experimental manner. The studio is understood as a space of theoretical and hands-on intervention with the data, permitting the researcher to reconfigure this data according to any pre-set and/or arising research questions.

This approach implies perceiving the collected data as material, as flexible and/or mouldable, plastic data objects and situations that bear a variety of meanings within their appearance or material characteristics. Data, understood as plastic material, can be ‘sculptured’, that is ‘worked on with the hands’ from all intervening aspects that are attached to the data. Thus, the data can be actively enacted to reveal all the information contained within it. It can be explored as multi-dimensional data-entity (in the language of quantitative methods one could call it a data set but must not leave out of sight the understanding of this set as all data combined in one single data-material) that integrates conventional as well as contextual and sensuous data conditioning this data and our understanding of it throughout the ‘journey of analysis’ it makes while being collected, coded and interpreted over the time of the research project. Studio Sociology therefore not only emphasizes understanding the social world as highly complex, but offers (1) a way of thinking that allows the researcher to maintain this complexity throughout the entire research project and into possible dissemination strategies, and (2) a way to incorporate a reflexive moment while working on the data-material in the studio in order to interrogate the complexity of the research process itself.

Studio Sociology is a concept developed by Nina Wakeford, director of Studio INCITE and convenor of the Visual Sociology programme at Goldsmiths. It has been discussed in the seminar in October 2010.

text by Christian v. Wissel

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