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May 31 , 2010

Sociology of the Visual Sphere


This collection of original articles deals with two intertwined general questions: what is the visual sphere, and what are the means by which we can study it sociologically? These questions serve as the logic for dividing the book into two sections, the first ("Visualizing the Social, Sociologizing the Visual") focuses on the meanings of the visual sphere, and the second ("New Methodologies for Sociological Investigations of the Visual") explores various sociological research methods to getting a better understanding of the visual sphere. We approach the visual sphere sociologically because we regard it as one of the layers of the social world. It is where humans produce, use, and engage with the visual in their creation and interpretation of meanings. Under the two large inquiries into the "what" and the "how" of the sociology of the visual sphere, a subset of more focused questions is being posed: what social processes and hierarchies make up the visual sphere? How various domains of visual politics and visuality are being related (or being presented as such)? What are the relations between sites and sights in the visual research? What techniques help visual researcher to increase sensorial awareness of the research site? How do imaginaries of competing political agents interact in different global contexts and create unique, locally-specific visual spheres? What constitutes competing interpretations of visual signs? The dwelling on these questions brings here eleven scholars from eight countries to share their research experience from variety of contexts and sites, utilizing a range of sociological theories, from semiotics to post-structuralism.

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