Architectural sociology

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The sociology of architecture is a special sociology , the subject of which is the social significance of architecture .

Objects and aspects of architectural sociology

The architecture (and generally the built environment) is significant in relation to each company: it is omnipresent, inescapable, mostly on expressivity and applied to social communication. At the same time, it creates concrete, material spaces in which social interactions take place, permanently surrounds our body, evokes and directs its movements and gazes. Architecture is not only perceived visually, but also physically; it not only has an expressiveness and affectivity, but is also our everyday environment. It shapes our spatial ideas, keeps generations and entire disappeared societies present and makes society's subsystems visible. As an art, it often has a special affectivity, a power of fascination.

In all of this it is highly relevant sociologically; and all of this applies to premodern and non-modern (almost) as well as modern societies. The sociology of architecture revolves around this built form of society, around architecture in urban planning dimensions through to interior design , from a historical or contemporary perspective.

In a second sense, the sociology of architecture would be an architect s sociology: you go there rather the profession and the special knowledge of the architect to architectural policy and construction industry .

Architecture is a complex subject. Accordingly, there are different aspects or different sub-disciplines that are interested in architecture; and different ways of thinking from which to observe the architecture of a society.

Cultural sociology

In the sociology of architecture as a sociology of culture, the phenomenality of the building comes into focus: or, to use Simmel, the "skin" of society.

In modern times, the built form differs in terms of social spheres (residential architecture; consumer architecture, mobility architecture, political and religious architecture). There are many different types of building (factories, prisons, theaters and cinemas, etc.) that can each become objects of architectural sociological observation - e.g. B. in view of the socio-diagnostic question of a particular architecture to what extent each one aspect of the structure of this society - or the entire social structure as in the analysis of the courtly society of Norbert Elias - 'expresses' emphasizes or even made present and more powerful power. The analysis of the specific architecture would have to start with all aspects: not just the floor plan, but also the design language, the dimensions, the materials, the construction, the furnishings and the accompanying discourses.

Classics of architectural sociology

Such architectural-sociological analyzes of the built form of society can already be found - albeit always implicitly, not identified as such - in the classics of sociology: among others in Marcel Mauss (the double architecture of the Eskimos), Walter Benjamin ( passages as the birthplaces of consumer society), Norbert Elias (courtly living structures as an indicator of the courtly social structure), Michel Foucault (prisons and other architectures as the birthplaces of the disciplinary society) as well as Ernst Bloch , Siegfried Kracauer , Pierre Bourdieu , Maurice Halbwachs , or Karel Teige.

Artifact sociology

From the sociology of technology, there are approaches to a sociology of artifacts, which, however, is initially related to technical things, while architecture by no means merges with technology. The perspective of a sociology of architecture as a sociology of artifacts would be the question of the 'interaction' between architecture and actor, i.e. the question of the extent to which a very specific architecture suggests and enables certain modes of action, modes of movement, modes of perception and makes others impossible. One would then have less the visual shape than the conditioning of the body in view.

Spatial and urban sociology

The term social space is used in a more abstract sense by Pierre Bourdieu and other sociologists, as well as in the sociology of space , which was founded by Georg Simmel . Michel Foucault ( other spaces , heterotopias ), Dieter Läpple, Martina Löw and Markus Schroer, among others , have taken up the subject of spatial sociology (see there).

From Georg Simmel, the urban sociology unfolds , from his question about the specific way of life and mentality of the city dwellers ( Die Großstädte und das Geistesleben , 1903). Since then, urban sociology has primarily dealt with urban social structures (as opposed to rural communities), with segregation processes, urbanization and the shrinking of cities. The architecture has so far not been in the foreground; rather, it is about social interactions in the city. Recently, however, an observation of the “difference between cities” (Martina Löw, Helmuth Berking), which will also be linked to their architecture, has developed in relation to this research direction (which generally analyzes city ​​life ).

Professional sociology, intellectual sociology, sociology of utopia

It is also a question of a knowledge and an intellectual sociology of architects. The professional aspect is about the sociology of the architect (professional sociology ) as a creative, academically institutionalized discipline (especially Florent Champy, Oliver Schmidtke) as well as questions about the status of the architect in society. Another aspect of the complex subject of architecture is the intellectual sociology of architects: the question of what role they play in society, and this against the background of a veritable socio-technical claim that they formulate by the 20th century at the latest. From the avant-garde point of view, it was about nothing less than the alternative of “architecture or revolution” (Le Corbusier, Vers une architecture, 1923): the order of society. In analogy to the sociological question of the social location of a thought (Karl Mannheim) and the free-floating intellectuals, the architects would also have to work out the connection to the location. Architectural utopias should also be questioned: the historical embedding, the criticism of society, the proposed solutions, the effectiveness.

Economic and Political Sociology

Sociology is also interested in questions of building policy and the building industry: in terms of the funds invested (in addition to the war), the building sector is not only, but also an area of ​​"unproductive expenditure" (Georges Bataille): state building projects say as Society projects about this themselves.

Current tendencies and theoretical approaches

An explicit re-establishment of the sociology of architecture, also with a stronger sociology-theoretical, research-leading interest, can currently be observed. Different theoretical approaches and main interests (corresponding to the multiparadigmatic science of sociology) enable different perspectives on the relationship between architecture and society. At least one should mention: gender studies, the civilization-theoretical approach of Norbert Elias, the dispositive theoretical approach of Michel Foucault, the approach of critical theory and historical materialism, the symbolic approach of Pierre Bourdieu, the approach of cultural studies, and social morphology (Émile Durkheim, Marcel Mauss, Maurice Halbwachs) or the development of the French 'life sociology' (Deleuze, Castoriadis) for the sociology of architecture. Another possible perspective is the philosophical anthropology with its consideration of the body; yet another is systems theory with a view to the communication media of society; or the approach to the symbolic interaction between the socially acting people by means of the design of spaces .



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