Inaugural Lecture by Professor Sophie Woodward, Sociology: “Material Potencies and Dormant Things: Expanding a Vital Sociology of the Everyday”

by | Dec 6, 2021 | Uncategorised | 0 comments

Sophie Woodward, Professor of Sociology at The University of Manchester and member of The Bodies, Emotions and Material Culture Collective, will give her inaugural lecture

“Material Potencies and Dormant Things: Expanding a Vital Sociology of the Everyday”

9 December 2021, 4pm (GMT). The event will be followed by a Q&A session chaired by Professor Alice Bloch, Head of Sociology.

Professor Sophie Woodward carries out research in the areas of material culture, everyday life and consumption using a range of creative research methods. An abstract can be found below. For attending this zoom event, please register here:



There is perhaps no more striking example of the ordinary, unnoticed, and mundane than cables stashed away in an attic, old clothing boxed away in a cupboard or a drawer full of ‘junk’. Drawing on sociological accounts of ordinariness and everyday life, I explore these dormant things (items people keep but are not using) to argue that their material vibrancy and potencies invite us to expand how we think about everyday life as part of a ‘vital sociology’ (Back and Wright, 2021) which illuminates and re-enchants the unnoticed, locating the shared, public and moral in the everyday. I argue that attention to the vibrancy and potency of everyday things (Bennet, 2010) is key to theorising and developing a vital sociology. Forgotten things covered with dust on a shelf may seem ‘dead’ or inert, yet framing these as ‘dormant’ exposes their histories, hauntings and traces of former users, as well as futures and imagined lives. By developing an ‘attentiveness’ (Stewart, 2007) to things, their affects and potencies things through a series of material methods (Woodward, 2019), I seek not what things symbolise but resonances, potencies and possibilities. I theorise the material possibilities that dormant things speak to: for the self, relationships to others, and other potential uses. Potential relationships or lives haunt us, or objects chide us for failing to use things as dormant things resonate through future and past and parallel lives.