Pubs, pads, squats: vernacular space and the historical sensorium

Highmore, Ben (2018) Pubs, pads, squats: vernacular space and the historical sensorium. In: Sandin, Gunnar and Frichot, Helene (eds.) Architecture in effect. Volume 2 after effects: theories and methodologies in architecture. Actar, Barcelona, pp. 326-337. ISBN 9781940291994

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First paragraph, in lieu of abstract: Karl Marx declared in 1859 that “it is not the consciousness of men [people] that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness” (Marx [1859] 1968: 181). His argument was aimed at philosophical idealists who placed conceptual schemas ahead of material existence. The claim that what we think, and perhaps what we dream, is somehow constrained, if not contained, by how the world is already arranged remains a profound and difficult idea. Marx could be saying something like, “we can’t think outside of the box until we can begin to live outside of the box, until our living somehow breaks that box.” Social being might be constraining, but it is not a singular and consistent entity; it has its own ssures and its own wiggle room. We might not be totally outside “the box,” but neither is “the box” one single prison cell. Indeed, Marx’s own critical consciousness would be hard to explain if social being was simply an overarching monoformation that could be described by the phrase “the capitalist division of labor,” which consequently determined all consciousness. Marx’s historical wager speculates that a collective “critical” consciousness will emerge through and against the constraining arrangements of social being. In the nineteenth century, the factory work benches were drawing people together even while systematically exploiting them. Physical space (the factory) allowed a collectivity to come into being; it provided the material circumstances for “social being” and provided the (imperfect) conditions for a new collective and critical consciousness to emerge.

Item Type: Book Section
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Film and Music > Media and Film
Research Centres and Groups: Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies
Subjects: A General Works > AZ History of Scholarship The Humanities
Depositing User: Ben Highmore
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2018 16:23
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2018 16:23

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