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The Social Life of the Senses: Charting Directions



Sensory scholarship in the fields of sociology, anthropology, history and geography, among others, has proliferated in the last few decades. Sensory works in these disciplines argue for the senses as social, highlighting important insights that further our comprehension of selfhood, culture, and social relations. In this paper, I delineate five interrelated sections that inform how sensory works have developed over time. In the first section, I provide an adumbrated background with regard to the hierarchy of the senses, and call attention to the need to move beyond the hegemony of vision. The second section offers a discussion on how Sociology has contributed to sensory studies, addressed alongside other disciplines. Building upon these two sections, both theoretical directions and methodological issues will be deliberated in the third and fourth sections respectively. The last section locates the development of sensory research in organizational terms, by elucidating upon the various institutional efforts that have been pursued towards organizing sensory research and scholarly publications through different avenues. The article then concludes by putting forward the concept of sensory transnationalism as a suggestion for the next step forward towards broadening sensory research.