Session: #373

Theme & Session Format

6. Material culture studies and societies
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Social Interaction in Heritage Environments
This session invites contributions that investigate how people interact with each other and with the material space and objects around them in a heritage environment, both original and reconstructed. These environments can be landscapes or built environments that have been shaped by past societies - such as a ruined abbey, a stately home or a prehistoric field system; or they can include environments that have been reconstructed on the basis of archaeological evidence, such as a roundhouse or a Roman fort.

A number of disciplines and sub-disciplines, including social interaction research, social archaeology, spatial archaeology and landscape archaeology, recognise space and its materiality as a socially relevant dimension. In social interaction research, one of the important tenets is that face-to-face social interaction is situated in the material environment. This so-called 'anchoring' involves actions of co-orientation, co-ordination and co-operation. Any architecturally designed space provides cues to people as to which type of social activity can be, or is likely to be, anchored in it, and people learn to interpret those usability cues as part of their cultural socialisation.

Contributions to this session should help to shed light on how people today interpret the properties of past spaces as a resource for particular types of social interaction. We invite papers that offer case-studies or methodologies for the systematic investigation of social action and interaction in heritage environments. For instance, how do guides and visitors interact with each other, the architecture and the features and objects within? How do modern appropriations of heritage environments inform us about potential past space interpretations and usage? Furthermore, a systematic analysis of social interaction patterns may have applications for the heritage sector in the design and interpretation of heritage spaces.
Social Interaction, Material Culture, Heritage Interpretation, Museums, Open Air Museums
Session associated with MERC:
Session associated with CIfA:
Session associated with SAfA:
Session associated with CAA:
Session associated with DGUF:
Session associated with other:


Main organiser:
Win Scutt (United Kingdom) 1
Antje Wilton (Germany) 2
1. English Heritage
2. University of Siegen, Germany