A socio-material perspective on production studies

behind the screen

“Behind the Screen – Inside European Production Cultures” was published in December 2013 by Palgrave Macmillan.

by Camilla Simonsen

Production studies is a growing and exciting field these years, and the socio-material approach can be very useful in current research, argues a new book chapter from DHT researcher Sara Malou Strandvad.

Hence the 30 page book chapter called “Analyzing Production from a Socio-Material Perspective”, states that “the social analyses of cultural production could be taken further by including objects as potential actors, thereby developing what may be called a socio-material perspective”.

The chapter is found in the book “Behind the Screen – Inside European Production Cultures”, which emanates from a conference on European Film Production in April 2011 on Stockholm University.

Artworks as objects
One of the points of using a socio-material perspective is that it considers artworks as objects, and thereby “questions the traditional distinction between the sociology of art and art studies.” A distinction that Sara Malou suggests should be transgressed.

In the chapter, three examples of the socio-material analyses of cultural products are used to show how this can be used in cultural production analyses. First the work of British music sociologist Tia DeNora on music in everyday life, then architectural practice studies by the Bulgarian sociologist Albena Yaneva, and third an example from Sara Malou’s own study on development processes in Danish filmmaking.

Overcoming the dualism
Of course there are limitations to the socio-material perspective as well, and potential criticisms and limitations are discussed in the end of the chapter. The most important point however is to readdress the classic discussion between sociology of art and the humanities and that this discussion can offer new ways in and out of the debate.

As it says in the chapter conclusion, it: “therefore suggests revisiting the ingrained dualism between aestheticism and sociologism, where works of art are either ignored or interpreted.”

Based on the “pioneering and exemplary formulation of the socio-material perspective within cultural sociology” by French sociologist Antoine Hennion, Sara Malou through the book chapter shows how this perspective has been used and developed in analyses of cultural products.



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