Collective Review: Current Approaches in German-Speaking Sociology of Architecture: Navigating Agency and Experience


  • Johannes Coughlan Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
  • Alina Wandelt Universität Leipzig



sociology of architecture, sociology of knowledge, agency, experience, material agency, social practices, ethnography, objective hermeneutics, group discussions


Despite their differences, sociologists of architecture agree on one fundamental premise: buildings—and architecture more broadly—play a role in shaping social life. The importance of the "agency" of architecture has been equally highlighted in debates in cultural theory. The authors of the publications under discussion here approached this issue through empirical research. We suggest that, in doing so, they make visible the methodological challenges and potentials that confront sociologists of architecture. We aim to offer a comparative overview of some of the newer publications in the German-speaking sociology of architecture which adapt established methods of qualitative sociology to the field of architecture. We review these works through the lens of how well they empirically address the issue of the ways in which architecture can be shown to have agency in society.


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Author Biographies

Johannes Coughlan, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Johannes COUGHLAN is a research assistant at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. His research interests include cultural sociology, Science and Technology Studies, architecture and design studies, and interpretive methodology, especially methodological situationalism. In his dissertation, he investigates the social construction of value in architectural work practices.

Alina Wandelt, Universität Leipzig

Alina WANDELT is a research assistant at the Institute for the Study of Culture in Leipzig. Her research interests include the sociology of space and architecture, digitalisation, political theory and methods of qualitative social research. In her dissertation, she is investigating the transformation of libraries in times of digitalisation at the level of discourses, materiality and practice.




How to Cite

Coughlan, J., & Wandelt, A. (2021). Collective Review: Current Approaches in German-Speaking Sociology of Architecture: Navigating Agency and Experience. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 22(2).