I am interested in supervising doctoral students in all aspects of the sociology of material life but in particular: material interaction, material civilization, consumption, everyday technology andembodied practices with objects including cars and bicycles. I also have a continuing interest in critical social theory and modern French social theory including the work of Henri Lefebvre, Jean Baudrillard and Pierre Bourdieu. More recently I have been researching the theme of the morality of ordinary life in relation to television and the broadcast media. I would welcome applications from potential doctoral students in all of these areas.
My research has always been in the sociology of culture and most recently has been on how television serves to sustain the morality of late modern societies. I have just published a book on this topic that was informed by teaching as well as research:
Dant, Tim (2012) Television and the Moral Imaginary: Society through the small screen, London: Palgrave.
I am now turning to two new research projects that develop earlier interests. One is on 'Moral materialism', the connection between moral lives and material lives that is made more urgent by global warming, increasing populations and the centrality of 'things' in society. The other is on 'Critical Phenomenology' that is looking at how a phenomenological approach derived from Merleau-Ponty, Sartre and Schutz can provide the basis for a critical sociology of culture. These new research topics build on three earlier interests:
Morality and the small screen
As a means of mass communication, the small screen shows us what is going on in the culture and in particular it shows us what the mores of our society are. There has been an interesting debate in recent years about the morality of television as a witness to suffering in societies that are distant both culturally and geographically. But I am more interested in how television acts as an agent of socialisation for the adults in contemporary industrialised cultures. The small screen shows social action - both fictional and real - that the viewer can relate to his or her own life and experiences. As well as providing the basis for a number of conference papers, I am enjoying thinking through the implications of these ideas with students in my third year option on 'Television, Morality and Society'. I am currently working on a book for Palgrave that uses a phenomenological approach to analysing how moving images on the small screen make sense to their viewers and helps shape the moral order of society.
'Consuming morality: television and postmodern ethics' Sociology of Consumption Network, European Sociological Association Conference, Torun, Poland 9-12th September 2005
'Getting morality off the TV' Sociology Department, University of Essex, November 3rd 2005
I have published two books on material culture arguing for the importance of human interaction with 'things' - material objects - in sustaining contemporary societies. Traditional sociology tends to play little regard to the material life of human beings although research on consumption, technology and design has brought it more into focus. My interest is in understanding how human beings use things in their ordinary lives without paying much attention to the way they shape their everyday practices and connect them with other people. I have used a video based study of car repair technicians to analyse a number of aspects of material interaction and find a phenomenological approach that draws on the work of Merleau-Ponty particularly useful in analysing embodied interaction with things. Recently I have written about the iPod and how using it links us to our society in a variety of ways, about the pragmatics of making sense of objects in material interaction and about the distinctive features of the work of repair as material interaction.
Currently, with Eric Laurier at Edinburgh University, I am working on a research proposal on 'freight' and how things are moved about in our society. I am also keen to explore the different ways in which people interact with bicycles - some fitting them easily into their mobile lives, others leaving them in the shed or in the shop. With colleagues in Lancaster I have been developing a research proposal on the relationship between virtual and embodied space. I continue to be interested in the place of the car in contemporary society as a much loved yet also hated object.
I have a long standing interest in critical theory and its relationship to culture and ideology. I have published a book on the continuities between the Frankfurt School and the Francophile traditions of critical theory and a number of papers with Graeme Gilloch on how both traditions tackle a number of themes; photography, commodity culture and the typewriter.
SOCL309 Television Morality and Society - third year option
Research output: Book/Report/Proceedings › Book
Research output: Contribution to journal › Journal article