a short post about engaging tactics by Leah Gibbs, University of Wollongong, at the Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research blog … you can read it here!
walkabout, foot tunnel, corridor, picnic area, food stalls, round table, police station, prison cell, library, lecture room, meeting space, council room, café, restaurant, workshop space, more corridor (exhibition), heating plant room… here are some images that go along
Kat, we met David today – it was productive and we will try to finalise the call for papers by next week. Prior to meeting him we spoke and drew out some ideas.
We were thinking about how, as sociologists, we take sociology out and apply it to ‘real-life’ situations/objects and conversely how we might apply ‘real-life’ everyday situations to thinking/doing sociology.
Perhaps there is no need for this division.
It would be interesting to get papers that collapse and transform this boundary (between sociology and publics) in different ways.
So we have a beginning theme of: how do methods/strategies of dissemination relate to what you are researching? For example, how can Christian develop an informal method to research the informality of the city.
David gave us some ideas of speakers, after we suggested what our aims for the conference might be. These included ‘creating a dialogue between Phd researchers’, ‘ bringing together speakers who might not otherwise meet’, ‘engaging with the current and future climate of the politics of higher education’….
So we have plenty to do in the next weeks.
Clovis, Christian and I will come up with a list of potential speakers (important to note WHY we have suggested them), but in the meantime we agreed that we should all write a paragraph as a blog entry on what engaging tactics means to us. What/who should an engaging tactics sociology conference speak about/to? Lets all do this by the end of the week or asap!
Have a look at this also: unfolding academia. Previous Grad school Symposium – see links on the right for the specific activities/workshops they ran…. what do you think of these? Are they what or how you see the engaging tactics conference turning out?
Some other bits:
- impact of social sciences conference at LSE.
- Latours recent project has multiple ways of engaging – through its structure, methods, etc
- Unrelated, but interesting: Les Back’s Academic Diary Project
Brian, New Cross, April 19th 2011
The final weekend in June a group of PhD students from the department discussed the content, form and objectives of the student conference. Threads rolled out and which are now waiting to be taken on include…
- ‘pop-sociology’ (complex but accessible)
- ‘exciting sociology’
- embracing fiction and fantasy
- the ‘art’ of sociology
- ethics of engagement
- self-reflexivity (first make sure you know your aims from which to engage with the aims of others)
- boundary crossing (listening to the other is at heart of any engagement)
- trust and respect
- movement (mediation, play, network): way-finding and navigation
- Do-it-yourself politics
Comments and further thoughts are welcome…
Now it is my turn: engaging tactics? What do I get out of this topic – or what could I put into it?
First of all, why engaging? Engaging, because (a) Sociology finds itself rendered irrelevant and wants to come out of its crisis by critically (oh, how critical we are) moving forward, or (b) because I/we as researchers have a political, cultural or what ever agenda and this agenda happens to have to do something with ‘the people out there’?
I guess, in my case – and in a very personal way – it is both. The current situation of the critical social sciences in the UK landscape of higher education calls for the same question I am asking me on a personal level every day, too: Why Sociology? My research interest is the city; my theoretical lens is pretty fragmented and thus draws in light from angles such as spatial theory, urban planing, architecture, geography and anthropology. And now I am doing my PhD and somehow I thought (and still think) that Sociology might help me to bring it all together? So in order to make this happen, I need Sociology to be able to engage with all the bits and pieces of my research setting: with city life as well as with city form. With the social as well as with the material ground in which this social is taking action… With the walker and with the dusty street he/she is walking on.
And once Sociology does open up a path into my/our understanding of the city, than I have to engage even more with ‘what is out there’ because I do have a political agenda, too. I am interested in how people live urban form not only for interest’s sake alone but because I would like to participate in finding alternative ways of ‘making’ city (starting at alternative ways of ‘seeing’ and ‘thinking’ city). So I want the outputs of my research to engage with (insurgent) residents, policy makers and planners, too – all of them people who, almost by definition, either do not have or do not want to take the time to read a 400 page PhD manuscript.
Therefore I need several, and complementary ways to engage with ‘the urban’ during and as an extension of my research. So I come to the second question inherent in our conference title: why tactics?
De Certeau (1988: xix) distinguishes between tactics and strategies: while the later, the strategy, operates out of a clearly cut institutional or otherwise defined place (and thus sustaining this place against ‘the other’), the former, the tactic, is a way of operating that does not rely on a stable ‘proper’ with its inherent power relations, visibility and spatial differentiation. It is a flexible mode of operating, one that navigates through (social) space in stead of fixing it in concrete categories (see Vigh, 2009). The notion of tactics allows to think both research and dissemination as a way of constantly engaging back and forth, sideways and up and down with the social (in my case with the socio-spatial urban as well as with urban political and planning practice).