BSA PGR Regional Event ‘These are a few of my favourite things’: Exploring the Value of Materiality in the Everyday

This post has been written by Natalie Richardson

On the 1st March 2018, Lauren White and Laura Towers hosted a BSA Postgraduate Forum Regional Event titled ‘These are a few of my favourite things’: Exploring the Value of Material Culture in the Everyday. The event brought together postgraduate researchers working in the field of everyday life and material culture. Dr Sophie Woodward came to Sheffield to deliver a keynote speech on her research on ‘Dormant Things in Domestic Spaces’. Six postgraduate researchers also travelled to Sheffield to deliver presentations on their PhD research projects that incorporated aspects of material culture.

Value of materiality in the EverydayDr Sophie Woodward (University of Manchester) opened the day with her keynote presentation on ‘Dormant things in Domestic Spaces’. This explored the power of ‘dormant things’ in our homes, that can tell us more about the rhythms of daily life as well as the sentimental meanings we attach to the items we no longer use. She discussed the endurance of dormant objects through the memories we attach to them and things as having the capacity to affect us emotionally.

Lauren White (University of Sheffield) followed the keynote with her presentation on the value and affinities to research materials. The talk reflected on her PhD research, which looks at how everyday life is negotiated with IBS. Lauren explored the attachments researchers feel to their research materials, with diaries specifically providing intimate relationships to distant research participants. Secondly, Laura Toma (University of Bucharest) presented her work on the symbolic consumption of print media. She discussed the importance of the sensory aspects of newspaper reading, to demonstrate the ways in which individuals construct and maintain an identity through print media consumption. Camille Allard (University of Sheffield) then presented her research on the advantages of care ethics for thinking about a sustainable material culture. She raised theoretical questions about the links between care ethics and objects, using moral philosophy to look at the ordinary and mundane. Victor Avila Torres (University of York) then presented his initial thoughts on ‘Plasticine Music’ as a concept to describe the ways in which music is flexible and is reshaped throughout our experiences with it. His presentation drew on his PhD research on the meanings attached to music. Rachele Salvatelli (University of York) then presented initial findings from her PhD research on fat body positive individuals. Rachele discussed her interview findings, by focussing here on how fat body positive women narrate their identities through their clothing. Finally, Christoph Schimkowsky (University of Sheffield) presented a theoretical discussion on his PhD research, which looks at signs as a mundane technology of social control in urban spaces. Christoph explored the ways in which signs can regulate behaviour to create order within urban spaces, by focussing particularly on Japan.

The talks covered a broad range of themes, each related to various aspects of the everyday and material culture. In doing so, the talks all explored the meanings we attach to different material objects, such as signs, research materials, music and clothing. The day showcased some of the exciting research coming out of PhD projects within this sociological area.

This event was funded by the British Sociological Association