Talking to Samuel Shaw

Talking about the ‘sociological’ side of Making Place

Amelia suggested that the project fits somewhere between social practice art and sociology. Let me qualify the ‘sociology.’ I am an urban/community and cultural sociologist, so I think about the world in terms of how groups and individuals interact – how they come together, and how they differentiate from each other – in space, in the built environment and its representations; how cities are made; and how cities, then, accumulate relationships to become a template for further interaction. Or, in academic terms, how the city is both structured by, and is structuring of, human social relationships.
While people in positions of political and economic power have the greatest capacity to shape the character of the city, all individuals exercise agency on at least some level. We all shape our cities, communities, and places, in part through our patterns of daily life, representations we produce and consume, and in the relationships we make and/or avoid. We all have at least some political voice in representing what we ‘like’ and what we ‘dislike’ about our cities and communities, or what ‘makes it better’ and what ‘makes it worse’. Making place suggests that “places” are made in part through individuals who a) make their place, b) express their likes and c) dislikes.
In this way there is a sociological rationale for the project. However, at this point, there is no intention to use participant submissions as ‘data’ for sociological analysis. Rather, it is intended that the photos will speak for themselves, allowing participants to tell their own stories through photographs without imposing a sociological narrative on them.
Our greatest ambition is that the site will provide participants with a venue to connect local and global experiences. Potentially the site will connect individuals to their city, to other individuals in their cities, and to other individuals and other cities around the world.
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