Architectural Modes of Collective Existence: Architectural Sociology as a Comparative Social Theory
(2018) Cultural Sociology, 12 (1), pp. 37-57.
This article proposes a cross-cultural, comparative architectural sociology as a means of sociological analysis. It also emphasizes the social positivity of architecture. After a short overview of architectural sociology and its history, the article outlines a sociological theory which sees architecture and related practices as a constitutive ‘mode of collective existence’. The article argues that architecture (in a broad sense) is not a mere ‘reflection’ or ‘mirror’ of society, but rather a constitutive and transformative medium of the imaginary institution of society (Castoriadis), its assemblages (Deleuze), as well as its subjects (Foucault). In other words, it claims that architecture is a material and symbolic ‘mode’ through which societies and individuals are constituted and transformed. As architecture is a cultural technique, which is primarily enacted in relation to bodies, perceptions and affects (rather than in a discursive, reflective way), the social effects of architecture can best be understood and analysed through a comparative lens. Finally, therefore, the article unfolds a tableau of diverse architectural modes of collective existence, thus providing an overview of different socio-architectural constellations. Such a comparative and synchronical view of different societies allows for a sociology of architecture which analyses architectural transformations – both historical and contemporary. © 2017, © The Author(s) 2017.
comparative method; material culture; post-foundational thought; social imaginary; sociological theory; sociology of architecture; theory of society