Social Life, Research, and Cultural Studies

Call for Papers: Scene Again: Social Life, Research, and Cultural Studies Special Issue intended for Cultural Studies (December 15th, 2012)

Scenes are bounded worlds set within the fabric of everyday life. Participating in scenes produces shared experiences, affects, and identities. They are places to see and to be seen, but they hide behind the everyday – to find them you have to know where to look. The concept as we use it here was introduced by Will Straw in a Cultural Studies article just over twenty years ago (Straw 1991) as a way to characterize the cross-fertilization and transformation of popular-music practices in specific locales and communities. Straw has since revisited the concept and extended its reach to embrace other kinds of cultural life, “particular clusters of social and cultural activity” that do not always have secure “boundaries which circumscribe them” (Straw 2004, p. 412).

It is in this spirit that we contend “scene” was a concept ahead of its time, a resource for a robust, empirically oriented cultural studies or sociology of culture. Rather than simply studying scenes as cultural objects, however, we believe the term is most generative for cultural studies research when employed as a structuring tool for analysis – a “sensitizing concept.” Learning to see “circulatory matrices” (Gaonkar & Povinelli, 2003) of people, practices and objects as scenes enables us to pick out objects of analysis from the flux and flow of everyday life. In our Internet era, terms such as “network” are also available, but we believe that “scene” is a more materially oriented and inclusive methodological resource that forces us to consider the shared spatial and affective dimensions of social life. Using “scene” in a broader range of research areas, beyond music scenes and art scenes, allows us to identify the prevailing conditions and structures of feeling that bind people together in education scenes, healthcare scenes, activism scenes, and so on.



As a concept and metaphor, “scene” is provocative and flexible, but what difference might it make to the way that we approach and report on cultural life? We wish to showcase the usefulness of “scene” as a research concept in cultural studies by collecting together new scholarship in critical dialogue with Straw and the scenes perspective. We invite contributions that work with and test the limits of the scenes perspective through rich, historical and material analyses of empirical case studies across a range of cultural spaces and practices. Some potential topics include but are not limited to:




· Histories of scenes, including those which explore the dissolution or dispersion of a scene.


· Comparative analyses of scenes across geographical or historical spaces.


· Analyses of hierarchy and power within and between scenes (particularly those which deal with race, gender, sexuality, and/or class).


· The intersection of online and offline practices which co-constitute a particular scene.


· Institutions and intermediaries central to the growth and reproduction of a scene.


· Nodal places where multiple scenes intersect (libraries, cafes, community centres, etc.)


· Scenes produced in suburban, exurban, or virtual environments.


· Efforts to map or visualize the materiality of scenes as they develop over time.



Please submit an 800-word abstract by December 15th, 2012 to Ova e-mail adresa je zaštićena od spambota. Potrebno je omogućiti JavaScript da je vidite..



Stuart Poyntz


School of Communication, Simon Fraser University




Jamie Rennie


Humanities, Social Sciences and Social Justice Education, OISE at the University of Toronto




Benjamin Woo


Centre for Policy Studies on Culture and Communities, Simon Fraser University