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Article

Социальный порядок и практическая мудрость ходьбы в толпе

The article suggests a return to the “crowd” as an object of sociological analysis. The crowds attracted early sociologists because crowds were visual embodiments of social forces that surpass individuals and also served as a symbol of profound social transformations that were taking place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The analysis of crowds allowed first sociologists (G. Simmel, R. Park, M. Weber, E. Durkheim) to oppose the psychological interpretation of mass social phenomena with a purely sociological approach. However, in the second half of the 20th century the crowd became of little interest for sociology as it did not meet the interests of researchers of “big” social structures, nor the interests of the proponents of interactionist approaches. This article shows that crowd can again be made sociologically interesting if we consider it from the point of view of everyday practices of the participants. In these everyday practices a specific form of phronesis, i.e. practical wisdom, technical skill coupled with moral judgment about which action is good and which is not, is accomplished. It is shown here that the study of the practical wisdom of walking in a crowd requires special concepts and methods that can be found in phenomenology and ethnomethodology. In the article it is proposed to use three such concepts for the analysis of crowds: phenomenal field, oriented object, and figuration of details. With the help of these concepts the methods of crowd’s situated social order production are analyzed in relation to the management of speed and trajectories of movement, following one another, walkers’ stopping and braking, and joining the crowd. This analysis shows that the joint production of the social order of the crowd by its participants is a situated practice, i.e. it consists in making the local scenes of everyday life familiar and accountable and in assessing the local adequacy of the actions performed.