ordinary life

as it happens

Eric Laurier - University of Edinburgh

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Image: Ryan Hamill, ECA
Reader in Geography & Interaction,
Institute of Geography & the Lived Environment, University of Edinburgh.

What continues to motivate my work is the realisation that we miss so much of what is familiar to us because of its very familiarity. The social sciences and the humanities, of which my research is a tiny part, claim to represent and explain society and humanity. The arrogance of this premise, in Stanley Cavell’s terms, is the basis for a collection of studies of practice, and responses to theory, associated with ethnomethodology, actor-network theory and philosophy of ordinary language. It is those studies which I continue to learn from and which form the perspective I take in my research. To give you a feel for the research topics on which I bring this perspective to bear: visual aspects of interaction, public space, mobility, technology, workplaces, everyday life in the city, family relationships, consumption of secondhand goods, smartphones, conviviality, neighbourhoods, wayfinding, driving, human-animal relations, practical reasoning, conversation, gestures, video.

"Mere description is so difficult because one believes that one needs to fill out the facts in order to understand them. It is as if one saw a screen with scattered colour patches, and said: the way they are here, they are unintelligible; they only make sense when one completes them into a shape. -- Whereas what I want to say: Here is the whole. (If you complete it, you falsify it.)"
Wittgenstein, Remarks on PP. 257.