Interpretive Communities at work and play in the built environment

BENNETT, Luke (2015). Interpretive Communities at work and play in the built environment. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Abstract

Via a series of case study investigations this programme of studies applies the related concepts of ‘interpretive communities’ (Fish 1980) and ‘communities of practice’ (Wenger 1998) to the contemplation of, and interaction with, a variety of seemingly mundane places and structures within the built environment (principally cemetery gravestones, trees, abandoned military bunkers and an industrial hillside). It takes from these and other related theorists a broadly social constructivist concern to show how discursive practices render phenomena known or noticed but also inflects these seemingly idealist notions with a materialist (and pragmatist) sensibility, namely that ideas give significance to matter, but that matter exists anyway, shapes human agency and can act back upon meaning-making. The programme explores and asserts the importance of this co-production, this matter/meaning entanglement (Barad 2007; Hodder 2012) by exploring the ‘as practiced’ imprint of law and hobbies upon the built environment. The concern is to show both the multiplicity and the robustness of particular ways of engaging with such structures and places amongst certain professional and recreational communities – and also of some of the structural similarities in their meaning-making. Thus we strangely find seemingly counter-cultural ‘urban explorers’ performing building surveying as a hobby, we find land managers projecting wild ‘learned’ anxieties onto nondescript (and perfectly safe) assets, and we find local communities excavating rich meaning – in play and reminiscence – in the detritus of a landfill site. The programme thus provides both a practical and theoretical contribution towards understanding how places and structures become feared (as liabilities) or loved (as treasures) and of the logics and processes by which this occurs. It thus contributes to studies of the geographies of law, enthusiasm, exploration and heritage and to the sociologies of lay knowledge, law, organisation and also to material culture studies.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Built Environment Division Research Group
Depositing User: Luke Bennett
Date Deposited: 02 Sep 2015 16:00
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2016 22:57
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/10779

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