Introducing September’s Theme: Texture

This month’s digital theme is texture. The sensory aspects of living are of great interest to contemporary sociologists. In many ways, an interest in ‘textures’ has much to do with the so-called ‘material turn,’ or ‘new materiality,’ in sociology and beyond. In developing this digital theme we drew on a 2019 article in our journal in which Eduardo de la Fuente wrote that texture in sociology means both the physical properties of objects and the atmospheres of places. That article is one of those that is free-to-view throughout September.

When deciding on this theme, we were anticipating work that both studied textures in social lives, and that used textures in social research. As we anticipated when making the call for contributions, many of those thinking about textures have some connections to creative practices. This makes ‘texture’ an attractive theme for our digital platforms this month; it encapsulates both an approach to sociology as well as a space for cross-pollination with arts-based disciplines and practices.

With this in mind, we are delighted to be hosting artist Sarah-Joy Ford as our Image Maker in residence. Sarah-Joy is a Manchester based artist working with textiles, craft and queerness. Her PhD research proposes quilt-making as an affective methodology for revisioning lesbian archival material in Britain. Sarah-Joy uses textiles as a medium for queer research and activism, making her a perfect fit for our theme. We will be sharing her images on our Instagram (TheSociologicalReview) and introducing her practice on our blog.

This month our blog posts include a long-form essay from Eduardo de la Fuente in which he develops some of his ideas from his aforementioned 2019 article. In particular, Eduardo is interested in the texture of concrete, and it’s aestheticization on visual Social Media platforms like Instagram. The blog is illustrated by images taken by Eduardo of concrete as it appears in his everyday life. We are also excited to publish work from Melike Sema, who writes on Batik as wearable art; Tess Baxter, who explores texture and Second Life in practice-research; Mohammed Cheded and Alexandros Skandalis who interrogate the relationship between resilience and entertainment in queer digital spaces; and Susan Rottman and Maissam Nimer, who write on the textures of hospitality in relationship to Syrian refugee women in Turkey.

Each month, to accompany our digital themes, we make articles from our archive free to access. This month, de la Fuente’s  article that inspired the theme, ‘After the Cultural Turn: For a Textural Sociology,’ is free to read. We have also selected Rebecca Coleman’s 2017 article ‘A sensory sociology of the future: Affect, hope and inventive methodologies.’ This article draws on recent work in visual and sensory sociology to examine the difficulty of researching the intangibility of the future. It does so through close attention to Children of Unquiet (2013–2014), a film project by artist Mikhail Karikis, highlighting once again the connection between this month’s theme and creative practices.

From Second Life to concrete, and from quilting to digital textures, this month’s theme is just a snapshot of how ‘texture’ and sociology can be thought together. As ever, we hope that putting a focus on a theme opens up some creative possibilities within sociology and beyond. You can get involved on Social Media; please do share with us projects, texts, images or films that you feel illuminate our theme. Be sure to follow our Instagram to see all of Sarah-Joy’s images. We hope you enjoy this month’s content!

We have only two themes left this year, and we’re looking forward to receiving your pitches on the themes of ‘Methodology’ for November. We also have an open call for Postgraduate Research in December. Please share these with your networks, and find more information here.

– The Digital Team

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