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Recording Sociology

Учебный год
Обучение ведется на английском языке
Курс по выбору
Когда читается:
1-й курс, 2 семестр


Запольская Александра Борисовна

Course Syllabus


The course will be based on the interaction between a critical vision of the social reality of our environment and the capacity of the audio-visual media to show the urban reality and tell a story. The course will cover both theory (introduction to social science, photography, visual culture, project thinking) and practice (different exercises to produce visual research projects). For example, the first exercise is focused on the relationship between housing and citizens’ mode of living. The second and the third ones are the analysis of a place in the city and the way people use that space. The exercises will end up with discussions, shared presentations between all students. The course will develop skills to use a variety of audiovisual techniques and related software.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • This founding course will provide students with a socio-oriented method of observing urban reality. It will enable students to recognize that the city is at the service of people that inhabit it and that the inhabitants are those who build the city.
  • Through the various audiovisual techniques, which will be represented in the course, the students will be able to recognize the behavior of people in the city and the patterns of the relationships between people and the city. The course will provide students with intense analytical vision of human behavior and sociological phenomena that often go unnoticed but which define the character of the cities.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Ability to analyze, verify, assess the completeness of the information in their professional activity, to look up and synthesize missing information, if necessary
  • Ability to use basic techniques, ways and means of obtaining, storing, processing of information
  • Ability to participate in the study of fundamental and applied problems in the field of urban planning, as well as critically evaluate the associated scientific and technical information, both theoretical and practical problems
  • Ability to use the necessary tools and methods for processing of the analysis and systematization of information on the subject of research
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Introduction to Sociology: the reasoning in social theory, brief history of the discipline
    The logic of research in social sciences. Public sociology and the forms of presenting social research to wide audiences. The possible ethical dilemmas that one can face during social research.
  • Introduction to qualitative research: design, methods, techniques
    The craft of finding the problem and formulating a research question.
  • Brief history of Visual Sociology. Approaches to visual anthropology
    That topic will reveal different methods of researching the visual as well as using visual materials as research tools.
  • Interview as a qualitative method
    The lecture will focus on logic of the interview method: the technique of preparing a guide, the technique of conducting the interview, the technique of analysing the interview. The basic ideas of the grounded theory will be introduced.
  • Photo-elicitation interview
    All types of photo-elicitation interviews will be studied and compared in order to show students how visual can help them to collect and analyse qualitative data on urban environment and social problems.
  • Visual anthropology. Fieldwork: how to conduct participant observation
    The theoretical notion of public place will be introduced alongside urban ethnography examples. Different optics of experiencing urban space will be compared: drifter, flaneur, flaneuse, activist.
  • Introduction to Contemporary Visual Arts. Art and Science. Contemporary Photography and Video and Social Science. Construction of the Gaze
    First set of themes is strictly theoretical and is dedicated to general introduction to contemporary art. It will cover different topics, with the main focus on methodology of art and science projects, especially art and social science. Apart from history of visual sociology and visual anthropology this lecture will cover modern methodological approaches to visual researches and researchers of the visual in the city and briefly explain the theory of visual and its political engagement.
  • Technical, Methodological and Safety introduction
    That topic will cover necessary information on shooting in a city. It will provide a brief outlook of current safety regulations of photo and video shootings in urban environment and give very basic information on technical issues – both of production and post-production.
  • Recording city: borders and pores in the city environment
    That task is dedicated to artificial (and not only) borders and limits in the city. Those can be limits of access, roads, borders of districts or parking zones – anything that pulls city apart in a mental or physical way. By completing that task students will learn how to shoot and present linear structures, differences or similarities, breaks and discontinues. By searching for pores students will learn to reflect on the relativity of any border.
  • Recording the city: liminal places and “non places”
    “Non places” – places without specific labels, with no specific function, places of “passing through” and waiting. They even have formed specific directions in art. The main goal of this task is to learn how to see and define them in the city environment, how and what to shoot within them and how to present them to a viewer. Students will learn how to transfer the feeling of abandonment, emptiness and uselessness.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Classwork
    Attendance of classes and completed regular home tasks such as making an outline of a text or preparing a powerpoint presentation on a research are required.
  • non-blocking Photographic projects
    Students will present 3 projects based on specific instructions. The projects will have reflect the ability to pose research question and to apply critically the concepts developed in current sociological and urban theory.
  • non-blocking Fieldwork report based on 2 interviews
  • non-blocking Visual anthropology project
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (2 semester)
    0.25 * Classwork + 0.25 * Fieldwork report based on 2 interviews + 0.25 * Photographic projects + 0.25 * Visual anthropology project


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Howard S. Becker. (2018). Outsiders. Free Press.
  • Kardorff, E. von, Steinke, I., & Flick, U. (2004). A Companion to Qualitative Research. SAGE Publications Ltd.
  • Michael Emmison, Philip Smith, & Margery Mayall. (2012). Researching the Visual: Vol. Second edition. SAGE Publications Ltd.
  • Robert G. Burgess. (1990). In the Field : An Introduction to Field Research. Routledge.

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Foucault, M. (1995). Discipline and Punish : The Birth of the Prison (Vol. 2nd Vintage books ed). New York: Vintage. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=733102
  • Gillian Rose. 2012. Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to Researching with Visual Materials(Third edition). London: Sage. 408 pp. : Book review. (2013). Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.2D49D846
  • MacDonald, F., Hughes, R., & Dodds, K. (2010). Observant States : Geopolitics and Visual Culture. London: I.B.Tauris. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=334911
  • Pickles, J. (2004). A History of Spaces : Cartographic Reason, Mapping and the Geo-Coded World. London: Routledge. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=506853