SIEF2017 13th Congress: Göttingen, Germany
26-30 March 2017

Sensoriality and emotionality of home and home-making
Location VG 4.105
Date and Start Time 28 March, 2017 at 08:30
Sessions 2


  • Petr Gibas (Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences) email
  • Karolina Pauknerova (Charles University) email
  • Blanka Nyklova (Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences) email
  • Barbora Vacková (Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University) email

Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

The panel focuses on sensoriality and emotionality of home and home-making and the role senses, emotions and their interconnection play in establishing/disrupting (the sense of) home. We welcome empirical, methodological, and theoretical papers exploring sensory and/or emotional qualities of home.

Long Abstract

Home stems from everyday practices and polyrhythmias of (co)habitation, is infused with memories and emotions, consists of things and objects, and spans space/time. These practices and processes have a sensual dimension that may invoke various emotions relevant for (not) feeling at home.. Senses are crucial for explorations of home, its materiality, imaginaries as well as politics and gendered/ethnicised/age-related practices. We maintain that the sensory qualities of home co-produce its emotionality as complex on both the actual and imaginary levels: processing of food, cleanliness, ambiances , particular smells, tastes, surfaces and textures or absence thereof are of extreme importance for becoming at home, taking care of it, imagining it but also play a role in experiencing/remembering home as a place of fear, abuse, violence or guilt.

Sensoriality and emotionality intermingle at home and it is the role of senses, emotions and their interconnection in the ways we become at home that represent the key focus of this session. We invite papers on:

Research of how senses and/or emotions are employed in production and consumption of home;

Explorations of sensorialities of home and the ways they contribute to the emotionality of feeling at home and the ambiguities/contingencies of home;

Explorations of emotionalities of home and the ways in which they are related to sensory dimensions of particular homes and their material groundings;

Methodological issues related to the research of sensorialities and emotionalities (of and at home);

Theoretical engagements with the interconnections of senses and emotions regarding home and home-making.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


"A little space of my own": experiencing comfort and fear on the road

Author: Christopher Martin (Lund University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper will seek to explore how an embodied knowledge of the practice of driving facilitates feelings of ease and comfort in the everyday drivings performed by car commuters as well as what might happen when these familiar sensations and expectations meet unforeseen and unwelcome challenges.

Long Abstract

Driving in the West is generally perceived as an unremarkable and routine activity by both car owners and passengers alike. Yet this unremarkableness is, in it's own way, remarkable. Driving is an inherently dangerous activity which claims the lives of thousands of individuals every year and is one in which a large array of physical actions and perceptions must be continually managed all along the way. In spite of this the car, for many people, comes to take on attributes of a living room complete with steaming cups of coffee to drink, comfortable seats from which to chat with a friend on the phone, and music to lose oneself in. One manner in which this familiarity occurs is by becoming a skilled practitioner of driving by way of the accumulation of a large body of stored knowledge. But this knowledge is significantly more than merely an abstract one based on an understanding of traffic rules and the operation of mechanical equipment. It is also very much an embodied knowledge in which a familiarity with sensations, movement, and feedback can all play a crucial role. Based on fieldwork conducted among drivers in both Sweden and the United States my paper will seek to explore how a sense of feeling at ease in a car is established as well as what can happen when familiar sensations and expectations are disrupted.

The model family: gendering home in a normalisation-era Czechoslovak TV-series

Author: Blanka Nyklova (Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences)  email

Short Abstract

The paper presents an analysis of the normalisation-era Czechoslovak TV series. The aim is to show how the portrayal of gendered home-making plays into the consolidation of a backlash against the extensive gender reform introduced two decades earlier.

Long Abstract

As Paulina Bren has shown (1999), the genre of TV series/serials started to play a prominent role in spreading ideological messages to the newly de-politicised Czechoslovak masses after 1968. After the Prague Spring, the genre came to function as a means of presenting the public with model situations and dilemmas that took place in a seemingly timeless space of real-existing socialism. The post-1968 political dynamics triggered further consolidation of the backlash against the extensive gender reform introduced in the 1950s. The backlash has been analysed notably by sociologists (e.g. Hašková, Uhde 2008, Dudová 2012) and from an interdisciplinary perspective Havelková, Oates-Indruchová 2014) with most of the research sources comprising government policies, documents and legislation. In my paper, I argue that these developments may be researched on popular culture representations. Specifically, the paper presents an analysis of the representations of home-making portrayed in a popular TV series Okres na severu (Region in the north). The series features a model Communist Party political representative. To make the model and narrative comprehensive and relatable to the widest possible audience, the story follows the hero at work and at home. It is the gendered emotionality of the hero´s home that I u se to demonstrate specific features of the backlash against the gender reform in the last decades of Czechoslovak socialism. This emotionality is related through mundane tasks in which the senses - and especially taste as cooking and abundance of food play a central role in home-making - play a central role.

Home-making in care homes: a study on the relevance of personal things in late(r) life dwelling-arrangements

Author: Anamaria Depner (University of Heidelberg)  email

Short Abstract

This paper considers how and why meaningful personal things can and cannot be used to produce a space called home. Sensoriality and emonionality will be introduced as two aspects that can unfold unexpected behavior in the late(r) life period. The paper is based on empirical and theoretical analyses.

Long Abstract

For many people Care Homes are a place to spend their late(r) life. When deciding to move to such institutionalized dwelling-facilities, people are faced with a tough question: What will I bring with me - and what happens with all the other things? They have to reduce a whole life`s collection of objects to a minimum, so it will fit in one single room.

In over seven years of research on dwelling in care homes I encountered various ways to decide on that difficult question and to arrange (with) the new home. Sensoriality and emotionality are two crucial aspects that go along with this process, as decision making (and later home-making) is mostly based on them.

But dealing with old things in this changed situation reveals a lot of irritation: There is a lot of envy, anger and devastation in regard to very personal things who seem to challenge us by their potential to outlive us. Some things are even willfully broken by their owners. Those who had the most intense relationship to them, experience therefore - emotionally and sensually - a complete contrary handling to what they were used to treat their belonging.

In my paper I will present how and why meaningful personal things can and cannot be used to produce a space called home. The paper is based on empirical work as well as on theoretical considerations.

At home in the garden: rhythmicality, sensoriality and emotionality of home outside home

Author: Petr Gibas (Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences)  email

Short Abstract

The paper dissects the rhythmicality of allotment gardening to show how the emotionality of being at home (in the garden) emerges and how it is related to the sensoriality of natural-cultural spaces of gardening.

Long Abstract

Allotments became part of the Czech cityscape at the beginning of the 20th century. Referred to as garden colonies, they have always been politically highly contested spaces. At the same time, as our long-term research shows (e.g. Gibas, Novák et al. 2014), they also represent spaces of intense everyday work to which gardeners are strongly attached. Based on biographical interviews, the paper analyses the gardeners' attachment to the places of gardening (garden, garden colony) and shows how this gradually develops. Drawing on Lefebvre's notion of polyrhythmia and Deleuzian view of territorialisation, the paper argues that it is rhythmical bodily engagements with material environment of one's garden that lies at the core of the fact that for many gardeners the garden becomes home more than their flat. Bodily interventions into the materiality of the garden represent instances of a continuous encounter with substances that subordinate to natural rhythms and conform to (as well as oppose) the gardeners' will. The garden is thus an outcome of a continuous rhythmical care, which moulds the material (and sensory) properties through engaging with and at the same time producing textures, odours, colours and their assemblages (both aesthetical and fertile). Gardening is repetitive as well as creative, locked in as well as productive of rhythms due to which home territorializes into the place of gardening. The paper dissects the rhythmicality to show how the emotionality of being at home (in the garden) emerges and how it is related to the sensoriality of natural-cultural spaces of gardening.

Dreaming about home: emotionality and sensoriality of Czech homeless camps

Author: Karolina Pauknerova (Charles University)  email

Short Abstract

The paper addresses the representation of quasi-homes of the homeless in Czech documentary films. We will present a preliminary formulation of the canon of emotionality and sensoriality connected to homeless kvazi-homes based on discursive analysis of chosen documentary films.

Long Abstract

Traces of temporary stay of homeless people are nowadays common in urban experience. Such traces vary from just mats from cardboard boxes to small cabins. The paper addresses the representation of quasi-homes of the homeless in documentary films.

The paper presents an analysis of documentary films about homeless in the Czech Republic (e.g. Love in the grave (David Vondráček, 2012); Places among places (Marek Matvija, EPOS 257, 2015) and My tent, my castle (Ivo Macharáček, 2004)). The analysis focus on two levels of the films. The first level is critical evaluation of film narratives about places where homeless stay as well as film means used to describe the places. On the second level we will focus on emotionality and sensoriality of the quasi-homes thematised by the films.

Documentary films on one hand illustrate interest of the society in the given topic, but they also form the opinion - produce a specific picture of the homeless dwelling. On the base of discussion of both levels of the analysis we will present a preliminary formulation of the canon of emotionality and sensoriality connected to homeless quasi-homes in the documentary films.

Move house, raise a family, climb the social ladder... searching for sense, emotion, affect in the daybooks of a housewife 1890 - 1914

Author: Åsa Ljungström (Mid Sweden Univesity)  email

Short Abstract

Though daybook records of work are said to be dry, with mere facts, the aim here is to use one in the pursuit of historical phenomenology, tracing senses and emotions in the notes left by a mother about home-making for a growing family– until the young mother died, and a childhood paradise was lost.

Long Abstract

Although daybooks of work are not known to express feelings, there seem to be emotions underneath the words in a series of records of work in the home kept by a wife/mother/grandmother over a span 24 years. By close reading this long period of household work and family life, a possibility for historical phenomenology can be opened up. Emotions are seldom explicit, but the wording can be interpreted. There were reasons why a note was made. A sense of bodies at work may be traced. Sensoriality is less likely to be found with this writer, known to be a chary person, once a professional housekeeper. Affects are rare. Through knowledge of the family history and lore, the notations allows us to follow the processes of moving house from the rural estate to a village adjacent to the local military cantonment, the building of a new house, taking part in the social life of the community, keeping the household ticking over, making notes of each visit and social call. As the parents got on in years, the daughter married and had three children. Disaster hit with the death of the daughter, leaving three young children behind. With the death of their mother, the entire atmosphere of the home changed, as they recalled it. In 1914, the keeper of the record passed on. A stepmother took over the home, the cantonment mobilized as war broke out in the world outside, and the family left for life in the nearby town.

Domestic production of traditional soft furnishings in Slavonia: sensory and emotional process of home-making

Author: Marija Gačić (Muzej Đakovštine/Museum of Djakovo Area)  email

Short Abstract

The production of traditional soft furnishings in Slavonia is a process of selecting patterns, using traditional textile techniques and finally displaying finished textile items in ones home. This is an emotional and sensory process meaning material connection to the past and present home-making.

Long Abstract

Contemporary production of traditional soft furnishings in Slavonia is fairly present today. It is complex process of selecting patterns, making the soft furnishings, tablecloths, doily etc. by applying traditional textile techniques and finally displaying finished textile items in ones home as both everyday and festive home decoration. Women in Slavonija use traditional patterns and develop new ones for different textile items which are sort of upgraded traditional textile. It has deep emotional and sensory meaning in home-making process which is not only connected to aesthetic home decorating, but also has the function of representing the material connection to past by making stronger sensory dimension of home. The research focus will go in two directions: firstly the old, inherited textile objects and secondly, the newly made textile objects. In both cases, using and practices connected with them will be significant in discovering their role in home-making process in Slavonian homes today. Does it means that ones home is less of a home if it does not have embroidered tablecloth for Christmas or some other occasion? What is the criteria of selecting the home textiles for everyday or some festive family gathering?

Pointing out several examples of contemporary domestic production of soft furnishing and usage of it in ones home, the paper will try to answer the question: How does the emotional bond with traditional textile items is helping one to make a home, or how does the lack of these items affects the context of home-making process?

Tree. Timber. Tabletop: modes of wood processing and perception in building and dwelling

Author: Sarah May (University of Freiburg)  email

Short Abstract

To use timber in building and dwelling is as standard as diverse. Focusing on the decision for the material wood, on its processing and perception, this paper asks for coherences and fractions regarding the materialization, sensoriality and emotionality of home(-making).

Long Abstract

A house which is built without a piece of wood? Unthinkable, unusual. However, there are big differences in the use, expectation, and perception of timber used in construction and dwelling: Living in an interior with single wooden chairs or tables differs from the impression of an oaken wall unit or gooing for a solid wood external panelling. The choice of material we use in our homes is based on ecological, economic, haptic, historical, regional, technical and/or visual reasons. Furthermore its percipience alternates between roughness and smoothness, tradition and trend, cosiness and function, and unifies these criteria at the same time.

The paper deals with the sensoriality and emotionality of home(-making) by focussing on timber. Based on narrative interviews and media analysis it asks for preferences, decisions and practices. Therewith it tries to carve out exemplary characteristics in the cultural utilization and perception of wood.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.