Sociology of architecture

Sociology of architecture

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Sociology of architecture is a term that describes the sociological study of either:

  • the built environment or
  • the role and occupation of architects in (modern) societies

Architecture is basically constituted of the aesthetic, the engineering and the social aspects. The built environment which is made up of designed spaces and the activities of people are inter-related and inseparable. It is for us to understand this intrelationship and put it down appropriately on paper. Social institutions are many and these social institutions sometimes need functional spaces to allow the people using the building to benefit from all aspects of both the purpose of what inhabits the building and by the vary structure and organized flow of said structure. The way the buildings are designed to fulfil the needs of these social institutions /social requirements can be said to be the comliance of social aspects in architecture.



[edit] Cultural sociology

Architecture is the visual shape ("Gestalt") of society. And within that, all the various building types (architecture of consumption, of mobility, of the political and religious, as well as factories, prisons, cinema buildings, etc.) could become objects of architectural sociology. For example: how a specific architecture 'expresses' the structure and principles of a given society.

[edit] Classical sociology of architecture

Such sociological analysis of architecture can be found in the classic authors of sociology (but only implicit!): in Marcel Mauss, Walter Benjamin, Norbert Elias, Michel Foucault, Ernst Bloch, Siegfried Kracauer, Pierre Bourdieu, Maurice Halbwachs, Karel Teige and others.

[edit] Sociology of architectonic artefacts

The sociology of technology offers approaches to a sociology of (architectonic) artifacts. Initially, this sociology is interested in technical matters. While buildings (as art and technic) are not in the core of this discipline. The perspective of architecture as artifact would be the question of 'interactions' between architecture and subject: how a very specific architecture suggests certain ways, movements, perceptions.

[edit] Urban sociology and sociology of space

The term "social space" is used by Pierre Bourdieu and others (in contrast to architecture or built environment) in a more abstract sense: as social constituted spatial structures. Georg Simmel founded such a sociology of space and always watched the architecture of society.

Simmel unfolded also an urban sociology (his articles were read in Chicago school): in his question of the specific ways of life in big cities ( "Big cities and life of spirit", 1903). Urban sociology primarily deals with social structures within the city: their points are for instance processes of segregation, urbanization and the decline of cities. Recently, there is a research focus on "differences of cities", which will be more associated with a sociology of architecture.

[edit] Sociology of architect

One can think also of a sociology of architectonic knowledge and of the role of architects in society. A interesting aspect is the sociology of architects as intellectuals: the question of the role, which architects want to play in modern society. The avant-garde wanted to give no less than the following alternative: "architecture or revolution" (Le Corbusier, Vers une architecture, 1923); they wanted to order modern society only by architecture. And how Karl Mannheim asked for the social location of thought, a sociology of architects had to ask for the social conditions of a specific architecture. Not at least, architectural utopias would an interesting realm of: in their historical contexts and social effects.

The literature is scant in this area, too. But one can found textes of the American researchers Robert Gutman, Herbert Gans, Dana Cuff, Sherry Ahrentzen, and Linda Groat (most conducted from 1980 to 2000). An active successor is the Australian researcher Garry Stevens.

[edit] References

  • Paul Jones, The Sociology of Architecture: Constructing Identities, Liverpool University Press 2009
  • Heike Delitz, Architektursoziologie. Reihe Einsichten. Themen der Soziologie, Bielefeld 2009.
  • Joachim Fischer/Heike Delitz (eds.), Die Architektur der Gesellschaft. Theorien für die Architektursoziologie, Bielefeld: transcript 2009.
  • Olivier Chadoin, Etre architecte : les vertus de l'indétermination - de la sociologie d'une profession à la sociologie du travail professionnel, Presses Universitaires de Limoges, 2007.
  • Heike Delitz, Die Architektur der Gesellschaft. Architektur und Architekturtheorie im Blick der Soziologie, in: Wolkenkuckucksheim - Cloud-Cuckoo-Land - Vozdushnyi zamok. Internationale ZS für Theorie und Wissenschaft der Architektur, 10. Jg. H. 1 (Sept. 2006): »From Outer Space: Architekturtheorie außerhalb der Disziplin« (
  • Herbert Schubert, Empirische Architektursoziologie, in: Die alte Stadt 1/2005, 1-27
  • Joachim Fischer/ Michael Makropoulos (Hg.), Potsdamer Platz. Soziologische Theorien zu einem Ort der Moderne, München 2004
  • Bernhard Schäfers, Architektursoziologie, Opladen (Leske + Budrich) 2003 ISBN 3-8252-8254-6
  • Gieryn, Thomas: What Buildings do, in: Theory and Society 31 (2002), 35-74
  • Guy Ankerl, Experimental Sociology of Architecture. A Guide to Theory, Research and Literature, Mouton de Gruyter Publ. (The Hague, Paris, New York)549 p. 1983 ISBN 90-279-3440-1 (paper) Hardcover ISBN 90-279-3219-0.
  • Anthony D. King (ed.), Buildings and Society: Essays on the Social Development of the Built Environment, London 1980
  • task force Sociology of architecture in the German Sociological Association

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