Conference Agenda

RN20_03: Media Transposition II: Acoustic, Olfactory, and Visual Data
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Ulrike Tikvah Kissmann, University of Kassel
Location: UP.3.209
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Third Floor Oxford Road


Olfactory Perception – A Neglected Sense In Social Research

Thomas Samuel Eberle

University of St Gallen, Switzerland

Qualitative social research has been preoccupied mainly with verbal statements and descriptions, only a few include auditory and visual data as data in their own right. Other sensory data have remained strikingly absent or downplayed in sociological research. This implies that the actual life-world of social actors is considerably reduced in sociological investigations.

My presentation will put an analytical focus on the olfactory sense. This sense has been regarded as “brute” and “animalistic” throughout the history of Occidental philosophy, and it comes as no surprise that this disrespectful attitude persisted in the social sciences. In everyday life, however, human perception is always multimodal, including several senses at the same time. We may often concentrate on visual and auditory information, but olfaction is always included, too. In certain situations olfactory perception stands out, for instance, when tasting wine or fine food or when smelling blooming flowers or perfumes. In other situations bad smells are avoided or managed, for example, by deodorants or other smell neutralizers. But even when we do not perceive it consciously, each space has a certain smell (odor, scent) and co-constitutes a locality’s atmosphere. Smells can often be recognized, and memory studies reveal that olfaction and memories are intimately interrelated – a smell can bring on a flood of memories.

I will ponder the methodological question, how we can integrate olfactory experiences into sociological research. My thesis is that a phenomenological analysis can clarify the difficulty to transpose pre-predicative experiences into verbal statements, and that it is crucial for qualitative social research to adopt a methodology which covers that realm of pre-lingual experiences and a-semiotic communication.

Sounds And Knowledge. Animal Bells As Protoypical Technology

Christoph Maeder

University of Teacher Education Zürich, Switzerland

In my paper i want to investigate on an ancient acoustic technology from a sociology of knowledge point of view: the handling and use of animal bells. At first glance, this technology seems to be irrelevant and completely outdated to modern man. But the implications of the mastery of sounding artefacts that produce acoustic, non-linguistic knowledge are manifold: bells produce prototypical structures of knowledge and power in functional, aesthetic and symbolic regards (Augoyard et. al. 2009). And the sounding artefacts allow the formation of unexpected stocks of special knowledge in relation to the uses of time, space and social relations: I will illustrate the production of audibility by means of bells for animals as an audio-technical structure of power, a kind of "Governmental Soundscape" which shapes the boundaries in the man-animal relation. Put together we are looking at, and hearing an auditory culture (Bull & Back 2003) which is far more reaching and complex than the simplicity of the sounding artefact - the bell - implies. As empirical data I will use photographs and video strips of exemplary situations in which animals and humans are governed by sounds in the Swiss Agriculture. The data used will finally bring me to the question of how to do research on non-linguistic acoustic phenomena: is the non-linguistic character of a phenomenon observed a boundary for qualitative research?

Augoyard, Jean-François, Henry Torgue, Andra Shirley Jean McCartney, David Paquette, eds. 2009. Sonic Experience: A Guide to Everyday Sounds. Reprinted. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s Univ. Press.

Bull, Michael / Les Back. 2003, eds. The Auditory Culture Reader. Oxford: Berg Publishers.

Maeder, Christoph. 2017. «Bells and Social Order: Analysing Sounds in Ethnography».SAGE Research Methods Datasets. London: SAGE.

Abstract Music Videos, Pop Culture Media and Social Media Comments: Challenges and Perspectives for the (Audio Visual) Grounded Theory Methodology

Marc Dietrich2, Günter Mey1

1Magdeburg-Stendal, Germany; 2Magdeburg-Stendal, Germany

Since decades the Grounded Theory Methdology (GTM) is one of the most popular methods among qualitative researchers around the world. One reason for that sucess might be the „All is data“- credo (Glaser 2007) promising the opportunity to integrate every data type into one methodological approach. On the other hand the GTM has not always taken the chance to develop methods in reaction to new challenges of data. Especially concerning audiovisual data (with their complex interplay between text, tone and moving image) GTM has not offert adequate methods yet. Apart from the fact that methods for the analysis of audiovisual data still tend to be neglected in qualitative methods, the lack of visual methods in GTM has two negative consequences: One is that researchers in areas that are traditionally focused on empirical research (e.g. in youth culture research) might have to switch their method – another is that the integration of methods rooted in other theories tends to produce incompatabilities. Based on our project "Music Videos, Scene Media and Social Media - on the Negotiation of Racism in German hip-hop" (funded by the German Research Foundation), we would like to discuss two questions: First, how can we analyze and reconstruct socially polarizing thematizations (e.g. ‚racism‘) in pop cultures (such as hip-hop) on different levels of discourse (e.g. in music videos but also in digital pop culture media and social media comments) and how does their interplay shape the discourse? Second, how does an (Audio)Visual Grounded Theory Methodology (Mey/Dietrich 2017; Dietrich/Mey 2018) deal with pop cultural audiovisual products (such as hip-hop videos) and how do maps help to create a „situational analysis“ in a digital area (Clarke 2018)?

Depicting and Visualizing Boundaries and Borders

Luc Pauwels

University of Antwerp, Belgium

‘Border studies’ have developed into a varied and promising field of research, involving scholars from many disciplines such as political science, social geography, visual social science, (visual) communication studies, visual culture, multimodal and linguistic landscape studies. After a period of widespread belief in a ‘borderless’ globalizing society (the post-1990 era) geopolitical borders and bordering processes again have become a harsh reality. But the concept of borders has also expanded beyond the geopolitical sphere and today may comprise ethnic, socio-political and economic, linguistic, sociolinguistic, mental, virtual and metaphoric dimensions. Each of those spheres tends to have both visible and invisible traits.

My presentation involves a systematic discussion of the scholarly practice of creating a visual essay as part of a broader research project on developing an innovative and integrated visual and mixed-method approach of different concrete political and non-political border situations and conceptualizations. The aim of this larger ‘Borders and Borderlands’ project is to build bridges between several fields in the social sciences, the humanities and beyond, involved with the study of borders and bordering. But the project also seeks to promote and strengthen a more visual (and multimodal) research and communication practice.

I will discuss and illustrate my visual preoccupation with different types and conceptualizations of boundaries, borders and borderlands through a series of researcher-produced images which try to embody these different dimensions and takes on borders and bordering in both documentary and more expressive ways. Most images will have a metaphorical layer or employ rhetoric devices to construct an implicit argumentation (supported by an introductory text and caption).