ISA World Congress of Sociology, Yokohama, Japan, July 2014

Research Committee on
Senses and Society, TG07

TG07 main page

Program Coordinator

Number of allocated sessions including Business Meeting: 6.


For sessions program and schedule see

On-line congress program


Deviance and the Senses in the City

Session Organizer
Alexandre MARCHANT, Université Paris X Nanterre, France,

Session in English

Deviance, in the urban environment as anywhere else, is defined by a transgression of a collective norm and identified through a denunciation discourse held by some “moral entrepreneurs” (Becker, 1963) pointing out this so-called deviation. Beyond the objective facts, always arises the question of representations and narratives, being not uniquely related to legal, social or cultural frames, but admitting also a sensorial and/or emotional dimension. Moral critics or condemnations can indeed be expressed through sensorial categories: for instance, Corbin (1986) showed how, in the French 19th century, the bourgeoise fear of popular districts had been crystallized on smells (the stink of the unhygienic poor); or recently one of the aspects of the US criminologist theory of the “broken window” (Kelling, Wilson, 1982) is to pretend that the visual perception of a degraded environment could be seen as an encouragement for more vandalism and contribute to the development of both insecurity and criminality. Besides, perception and denunciation of deviance can also use the register of emotion: latent fear, reject motivated by hate, irrational disgust...

Defining deviance, not only as a social object, but as a sensorial and emotional one, the panel will deal with the following issues: how deviance can be perceived by public through the language of emotions and senses ? How the latter can inversely express the transgression from the side of those who commit it (e.g., visual markers, on the urban landscape, of gang territories), or be the basis of a specific identity for a particular district ? How the “moral entrepreneurs” use in their discourses, rationally or irrationally, the vocabulary of emotions to define the so-called “vice”? How these agents inscribe their action in kind of a sensorial battle aiming to ban harsh sensations (the seediness of a landscape) and to produce moderated soundscapes, smellscapes and visual scenes purged of any nuisance ? Finally, what is the role of senses and emotions in the definition and enforcement of urban policies for sanitizing the stigmatized places ?

Panel will include papers dealing with these specific types of deviance : drug scenes, legal or illegal “red light districts” (prostitution zones), high-crime areas, but any other suggestion will be taken into account. There is no restriction of periods or geographical frames. Papers should address the field of sociology, history, anthropology or even any interdisciplinary perspective in social sciences. Abstracts of no more than 500 words are invited.


Love as a Sensible Bond: Towards a Global Observation

Session Organizer
Adriana GARCIA, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Mexico,

Session in English

In the last twenty years the number of scientific articles and books on the subject of love has increased exponentially, not only in Sociology but also in other Social Sciences. The expansion has been global, suggesting that this interest reflects not only a scientific shift but also a social-global concern on such matters. The increase on the number of recent studies has called for taking love not only as a scientific object but even more as an interdisciplinary field of study (Jónasdóttir).

Even though love is a complex neuro-bio-social phenomenon which requires interdisciplinary intervention, it can be approached from a distinct sociological perspective. That is, sociologists accept the biological foundations of love (of the human being as a species), but their main interest has been to observe it as:
  1. a social discourse which constricts and allows people to express their love to others
  2. a process produced by interaction and which produces also social bonding – efervescence –
  3. a personal experience which can be expressed in words and is embodied (is felt in the body)
What these analyses share is that love is culturally and historically diverse in its discourses and experiences, in how it is felt and enacted.

Therefore, the session aims to explore the different ways love is experienced/felt, and performed/enacted and its relation to a specific region or regions. The overall objective is to present overarching theoretical elements for a global analysis of love as a social and sensory phenomenon – eg. its implications for social bonding, sexual restrain or liberation, nationalism and hatred.

Papers for this session should therefore address one or more of the following questions: Papers discussing mixed-methods-designs to inquire about love and the senses; and papers presenting specific forms of love rituals, love bonding, relations between marriage and love are both equally welcome.


Making Sense of Place

Session Organizer
Phillip VANNINI, Royal Roads University, Canada,

Session in English

Place is a type of situated affect or feeling, a mode of active, sensory engagement,” a way of being in touch with space. Making sense of place is the shaping of how we dwell in space, of how we become socialized to understand and appreciate its sounds, sights, textures, flavors, and scents. Making sense of place is how our orientations to movement, rest, and encounter, allow us to sense the speeds and rhythms of where we are. Thus place is the sum total of the sensations space gives rise to, the cumulative incorporation of those feelings carved into soils, skies, and shores, and the embodiment of its affective spaces on its dwellers.

We invite contributions to this session that help us make sense of how we apprehend and build places through all of our senses, in different worldly spaces and at different historical and present times.


Performing Arts and the Senses

Session Organizer
Florence FIGOLS, Concordia University, Canada,

Session in English

Artistic practices are related to specific sensory codes, norms and values shaped by history, nature/culture and the socio-political milieu. They enhance multi-sensorial experiences that promote social bonding as much as differences among social class. How do the performing and visual arts, by sharing sensory experiences, overcome or reinforce social inequalities? What are the sensorial implications and alterations in the division between fine and popular arts, experimental or traditional practices, arts in the city or in rural settings, doing it or looking at it? How does art, through the engagement of the senses and participative practices, blurs social boundaries fostering integration and empowerment?

Through which sensorial processes are cultural knowledge and aesthetic experiences transmitted? How are these practices communicated from one generation to the next ? How do aesthetic transgressions disturb the sensorial expectations and, consequently, the social order? Are ‘sensory alterations’ perceived as actions to generate social change or as a violation of the tradition?

Migration and technology contribute to the global circulation of traditional, popular and fine arts. Does cultural globalization enhance or hinder sensorial diversity and social equality? Does it contribute to the richness of the sensorial life, cross-feeding art propositions and experiencing other cultures, or does it contribute to the disappearance of the sensorial uniqueness of a traditional art practice? How are perception and “sense-scape” modified or recreated through the reproduction, dissemination and re-localising of artistic forms?

Papers on music, dance, drama, visual and interdisciplinary art forms from western, non-western, traditional or popular culture are welcome including intercultural collaboration, art activism, site-specific, installations, rituals, sacred art, eco-art and any other marginalized practices.


TG07 Business Meeting


Urban Food Cultures

Session Organizer
Emma FELTON, Queensland University of Technology, Australia,

Session in English

Everyday urban experience for many is increasingly virtual and digital, mediated by internet communication technologies across the spheres of work and leisure. In what may be considered one of the counterweights to the digitization of quotidian life, is the hyper-development of food cultures, offering actors sensory, varied and de-territorialized gastronomic experiences with cafes and restaurants playing a central role in the distinction of cities.

The intersection of food and the senses allows us to explore the boundaries of inside and outside, private and public, individual and collective. Food is also a key component of ritual, typically understood as stimulating sensory experience and related to social values. The production and consumption of food carries cultural meaning (Levi-Strauss) and has social, economic and gender implications.

This session calls for papers that interrogate the role of food and food cultures in the urban context and may encompass themes such as: food as a sensory and social phenomenon, the de-territorialization of food cultures, urban food practices, urban food farms and sustainability, street food in the global south, globalization of food and its implications, the public gourmand, taste distinctions, the ascendency of café culture, food rituals such as food exchange and sharing, national food practices and their gender, economic and social implications.



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International Sociological Association
June 2014