Thematic Groups

TG07 Senses and Society

Established in 2011 

Recent social research on the senses has drawn attention to the manifold roles that the senses play in everyday life. Studies address the multifaceted ways through which sensorial analyses throw light on conceptions of social categories such as ethnicity, class, and gender, as well as the manner in which sensory experiences structure everyday life. This thematic group is an endeavour towards analysing both theoretically and empirically, how the senses work as socio-cultural phenomena in different societies or cultures.

Beginning with the premise that the senses afford a lens on the manner in which social life is organised, including how they shed light on power structures, social relationships and macro-micro interconnections, the goal of TG07 Senses and Society is to expand the literature and generate theoretical inquiry into the subtle interrelations of sensory experiences in shaping the social.


  • To carve out and broaden the parameters of sensory scholarship by inviting researchers working on variegated aspects of culture, power, gender and other dimensions of social life to critically address the social politics of the senses
  • To provide grounds for discussion and debate pertaining to analyses of the senses in both local and trans-national settings and cultures
  • To expand upon extant sensory studies beyond research conducted in Euro-American contexts, with non-industrial communities, or through historical inquiry, so as to locate how the senses function in a plurality of social settings, both in historical and contemporary dimensions
  • To explore and deliberate upon embodied forms of research and fieldwork that incorporates both the senses of the researcher and the researched, and to consider how sensory experiences may be articulated through different media of data presentation and analyses
  • To interrogate conceptual debates in social scientific projects that have to do with analysing how senses and society avail further theorising on larger-scale social processes of globalisation, migration and transnationalism, and the flows of peoples, lifestyles, and circulation of ideas, habits, and goods through different arenas of everyday life
  • To critically consider the underpinnings of sensory relations, power/knowledge structures and political maneuverings vis-à-vis policy-making, ecological concerns, urban redevelopment and cross-cultural encounters in varying milieus
  • To explore possibilities of inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary investigations of sensory experiences.

To realize these objectives TG07 will

  • Convene meetings, workshops and seminars in which scholars can develop discussions and collaborations in their various research endeavours
  • Publish and circulate a TG07 newsletter to disseminate information on planned activities, latest publications on the senses, and raise attention to opportunities for collaboration among members and other academics
  • Publish edited volumes and/or journal special issues of papers arising from various activities as listed above
  • Review and develop modules related to sensory studies as a branch of the discipline of sociology
  • Establish contacts and develop collaborations with research institutes and fellowship programs based upon sensory analyses.

Board 2018 - 2022. Extended 2023

President Kelvin LOW, National University of Singapore, Singapore,
& Newsletter Editor
Mark W.D. PATERSON, University of Pittsburgh, USA,
Secretary-Treasurer Noorman ABDULLAH, National University of Singapore, Singapore,
Members-at-Large Jean DURUZ, University of South Australia,  Australia
Emma FELTON, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Florence FIGOLS, Concordia University, Canada
William GIBSON, University College London, United Kingdom
Mariangela Mihai JORDAN, Cornell University, USA
Devorah KALEKIN-FISHMAN, University of Haifa, Israel
Alexandre MARCHANT, ENS Cachan, France

Program Coordinator for IV ISA Forum 2020 is:
Kelvin LOW,



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