13-14 April 2012
Imagination Lab, Lancaster University, UK
This workshop explores the emergence of ‘mobile publics’, inspired by Goffman’s studies of public places as the performative locus of social orders and William Holly Whyte’s investigations of the social life of small urban spaces. We bring theory and empirical research, everyday lived practice, design, policy and politics together through collaborative analysis of multi-sited, mobile, ethnographic or otherwise qualitative studies of behavior in today’s public spaces.
mCenter Director Mimi Sheller will be speaking at 10am (ET) Friday
Equipped with mobile technologies, people connect in ways that were unthinkable when Goffman wrote Behaviour in public spaces (1963) and William Whyte explored The social life of small urban spaces (1980). The momentous Arab Spring events, London riots and ’2011 Occupy’ demonstrations are extreme examples that pose old questions about the ‘interaction order’ and its relation to social order and the public sphere in new ways. On the one hand, mobile connectivity enables micro-coordination of increasingly mobile everyday lives, new modulations of co-presence, absent presence and present absence, and transformations of socio-material practices of availability, obligation, intimacy and strangerhood in public. Some of the social innovations involved also shape emergent new practices of mobilising people in protests and crises. Arguably new, agile, local and globally networked communities and ‘mobile publics’ are forming. On the other, worries over a loss of civility, community, privacy, and new forms of surveillance enabled by the ever closer intermeshing of digital technology and everyday ‘movement-spaces’ fuel fears over an erosion of civil liberties and ‘capital P’ politics.
Goffman’s insistence that ‘the interaction order’ is the performative locus of such utopian and dystopian transformations and his and Whyte’s attention to detail are the motivation for this two-day interdisciplinary workshop. We would like to bring micro and macro, theory and empirical research, everyday lived practice, design, policy and politics together through collaborative analysis of multi-sited, mobile, ethnographic or otherwise qualitative studies of behaviour in today’s public spaces, zeitdiagnostic theory and avantgarde design. We invite researchers, designers, technology developers, architects, urban planners, artists and urban communities to submit contributions that explore aspects of new and old ‘behaviour in public spaces’, including (but not limited to):
- the ‘osmotic’ relationship between physical and virtual spaces, connectivity and mobility
- the social life of such spaces
- emergent principles and practices of the 21st Century interaction order
- augmented embodied and sensory phenomenology and material agency
- links between the interaction order, public engagement, and public space
- tensions between mobile informationalized everyday lives and movement-spaces and principles of privacy and civil liberty, security, splintering and sorting of ‘access’
- examples, practices and impacts of improvised communities and mobile publics, and collective intelligence
- examples and methods of collaborative, experimental, radically careful and carefully radical design of new practices, technologies, forms of public engagement and spaces
- reflections on the links between theory, empirical studies, design and politics in the broadest sense
Organisers: Chris Boyko, Monika Büscher, Tim Dant, Jill Ebrey, Pauline Feron, Karenza Moore, Jen Southern, Katherine Willis