Introduction

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Abstract

This book is dedicated to John Urry and his path-breaking work as one of the most influential sociologists of his generation. He helped to identify the deep histories, emergent patterns, and key issues that are reshaping the contemporary world. But beyond that he also made many of us more excited about sociology as a vital field of study that could move beyond disciplinary boundaries to engage a more far-reaching social science and humanities perspective. Whether focusing on shifting economies and the consumption of place, human senses and the body, landscape and place-making, mobilities and complex systems, or recent phenomena such as offshoring and climate change, John Urry was a perpetually innovative scholar, blowing away cobwebs and putting things in a new light. He built on the best traditions of social theory while always making it relevant to the concerns of today – as well as urgently necessary for envisioning and making better futures.We have chosen to divide the book into five thematic sections. In Part I the focus is on economies and spatialities, and the contributors reflect on both ‘the spatial turn’ and ‘the cultural turn’ in social theory, and especially their impact on British sociology in the 1980s, in conversation with simultaneous developments in human geography. This section includes several colleagues from Lancaster University, and considers how Urry’s early work in social theory, regional economies, and the emergence of disorganized capitalism connects to his later work on offshoring, mobilities, critical sociology, and social futures. While many associate the work of Urry with a ‘postmodern’ perspective, contributors here offer a more complex and nuanced view of the various strands of social theory that he brought together, and the intersections of a kind of cultural approach with the material production of space. In Part II, a cohort of Urry’s co-authors and colleagues considers the contributions of his work to rethinking the relation between natures, bodies, and the senses, and the emergence of what might be called ‘the sensual turn’ in sociology and cultural geography. Here, a more phenomenological perspective comes to the fore, considering how bodies and spaces are co-constituted through ongoing practices. Sensations, gazes, affects, intensities, virtual travel, and imaginative mobilities all move to the foreground, showing how absence and presence, proximity and distance are experientially entangled. These reflections show how Urry’s perspective helped open new spatial, sensory, and temporal dimensions of empirical research and social analysis, as well as allowing for very creative modes of writing. In Part III we turn to a host of thinkers who took up Urry’s work on tourism and everyday travel to investigate both the histories and contemporary practices of travel, and the emerging topographies of tourist performance. While this work is connected both to the interest in embodiment and in mobilities, it takes the specific context of touristic encounters and day-to-day travel routines to unpack some of the more detailed encounters of the travelling body. Funnily enough, in these postcards from various places we also begin to see the academic as tourist: the travels that took John to Denmark, to Brazil, to New Zealand, and to many other places around the world, even ice-fishing in Finland. So much of our work involves both everyday travel, and more occasional distant travel, as well as a kind of mundane travel-time that is so often used for work; perhaps all this travel instils a kind of sociological reflexivity as we move between different cultural settings. In Part IV we address in wider perspective the full implications of the mobilities turn, as it has impacted on a trans-disciplinary array of questions. Contributors consider both how it emerged in various international and disciplinary contexts, and how it has impacted on a wide range of research areas, throwing disparate fields into new juxtapositions. This has been an incredibly fruitful and productive terrain, generating many new ideas and methodologies for social research, as well as new kinds of collaborations and innovative practices. And finally, in Part V the contributors take up the post-humanist themes of complex systems theory and the more speculative strains of social futures thinking and ‘affirmative critique’ in Urry’s most recent work. Here we consider what the future holds for social sciences in an era of global limits and surveillant assemblages, as we try to envision a post-carbon future that may or may not emerge out of the spatial, sensual, and mobile practices that Urry’s work has charted. We also see his biting critique of hidden wealth and the dark forces that shape global economies and proliferate dangerous systems that are beyond our control. Yet risk, disaster, and inequality remind us again of the commitment to normative social science and to bringing about social change, including by working in more applied arenas, such as John’s contributions to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or the UK Government’s Foresight programme.
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This book is dedicated to John Urry and his path-breaking work as one of the most influential sociologists of his generation. He helped to identify the deep histories, emergent patterns, and key issues that are reshaping the contemporary world. But beyond that he also made many of us more excited about sociology as a vital field of study that could move beyond disciplinary boundaries to engage a more far-reaching social science and humanities perspective. Whether focusing on shifting economies and the consumption of place, human senses and the body, landscape and place-making, mobilities and complex systems, or recent phenomena such as offshoring and climate change, John Urry was a perpetually innovative scholar, blowing away cobwebs and putting things in a new light. He built on the best traditions of social theory while always making it relevant to the concerns of today – as well as urgently necessary for envisioning and making better futures.We have chosen to divide the book into five thematic sections. In Part I the focus is on economies and spatialities, and the contributors reflect on both ‘the spatial turn’ and ‘the cultural turn’ in social theory, and especially their impact on British sociology in the 1980s, in conversation with simultaneous developments in human geography. This section includes several colleagues from Lancaster University, and considers how Urry’s early work in social theory, regional economies, and the emergence of disorganized capitalism connects to his later work on offshoring, mobilities, critical sociology, and social futures. While many associate the work of Urry with a ‘postmodern’ perspective, contributors here offer a more complex and nuanced view of the various strands of social theory that he brought together, and the intersections of a kind of cultural approach with the material production of space. In Part II, a cohort of Urry’s co-authors and colleagues considers the contributions of his work to rethinking the relation between natures, bodies, and the senses, and the emergence of what might be called ‘the sensual turn’ in sociology and cultural geography. Here, a more phenomenological perspective comes to the fore, considering how bodies and spaces are co-constituted through ongoing practices. Sensations, gazes, affects, intensities, virtual travel, and imaginative mobilities all move to the foreground, showing how absence and presence, proximity and distance are experientially entangled. These reflections show how Urry’s perspective helped open new spatial, sensory, and temporal dimensions of empirical research and social analysis, as well as allowing for very creative modes of writing. In Part III we turn to a host of thinkers who took up Urry’s work on tourism and everyday travel to investigate both the histories and contemporary practices of travel, and the emerging topographies of tourist performance. While this work is connected both to the interest in embodiment and in mobilities, it takes the specific context of touristic encounters and day-to-day travel routines to unpack some of the more detailed encounters of the travelling body. Funnily enough, in these postcards from various places we also begin to see the academic as tourist: the travels that took John to Denmark, to Brazil, to New Zealand, and to many other places around the world, even ice-fishing in Finland. So much of our work involves both everyday travel, and more occasional distant travel, as well as a kind of mundane travel-time that is so often used for work; perhaps all this travel instils a kind of sociological reflexivity as we move between different cultural settings. In Part IV we address in wider perspective the full implications of the mobilities turn, as it has impacted on a trans-disciplinary array of questions. Contributors consider both how it emerged in various international and disciplinary contexts, and how it has impacted on a wide range of research areas, throwing disparate fields into new juxtapositions. This has been an incredibly fruitful and productive terrain, generating many new ideas and methodologies for social research, as well as new kinds of collaborations and innovative practices. And finally, in Part V the contributors take up the post-humanist themes of complex systems theory and the more speculative strains of social futures thinking and ‘affirmative critique’ in Urry’s most recent work. Here we consider what the future holds for social sciences in an era of global limits and surveillant assemblages, as we try to envision a post-carbon future that may or may not emerge out of the spatial, sensual, and mobile practices that Urry’s work has charted. We also see his biting critique of hidden wealth and the dark forces that shape global economies and proliferate dangerous systems that are beyond our control. Yet risk, disaster, and inequality remind us again of the commitment to normative social science and to bringing about social change, including by working in more applied arenas, such as John’s contributions to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or the UK Government’s Foresight programme.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
TitelMobilities and Complexities
RedaktørerOle B. Jensen, Sven Kesselring, Mimi Sheller
Antal sider4
Udgivelses stedLondon
ForlagRoutledge
Publikationsdato2019
Sider1-4
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ISBN (Trykt)978-1-138-60143-7
ISBN (Elektronisk)978-0-429-47009-7
StatusUdgivet - 2019
PublikationsartForskning
Peer reviewJa
ID: 290002172