The Sociality of Senses

Any individual experiences the world through senses but will never be able to transfer embodied experience to anybody else. To be shared, sensual experiences must be mediated and only in this way can people of different age, members of different social groups and residents in different parts of the world share their understanding for instance of what tastes good. To be recognizable for others, experiences must be mediated in specific recognizable ways. This is the case in mundane everyday life where people share good food and talk about it and as well in a large number of professions where sensual experience is crucial for the quality of a product or a service and where professions have developed advanced professional practices to evaluate specific sensual experiences, e.g. Michelin food tasters, wine critics and coffee tasters.

Families aim at raising their children to like what is served at dinner and cooking schools, wine- and beer-makers work to socialize trainees to differentiate between a variety of socially established tastes, smells, touch and look of texture of products to become professionals. They mostly succeed while opposing ideas about senses co-exist, which within time may cause a developmental change in individuals as well as in social- and cultural group’s sense-experiences and knowledge about them. One find traces of these changes in historical documents, but also in current innovative projects such as the Klaus Meyer New York project that aims at making New Yorkers accustomed to traditional Danish dishes as well as to dishes made of north-american raw materials, but processed through old Nordic techniques such as drying, salting, smoking, fermentation and pickling.

The field of the sociality of senses opens up for a variety of interesting research topics that are approached with a variety of research methods. We imagine issues of interest to for instance historical, sociological, social, economic, marketing, biological and innovation research. Our own human scientific interests concern the mundane social practices of making sense experiences socially observable and recognizable in families.

They also concern professionals social practices for refining these sense experiences in trainees in different fields as made socially observable and recognizable them. Our research interests concern in other words the sociality of sense experiences as well as the socialization of them at a micro-sociological, interpersonal level of investigation.

Gitte Rasmussen & Johs. Wagner

Research Unit Professional Practices and Expertise (PiPe), SDU.