Bjørn Schiermer Andersen
First of all I am ardently interested in creativity and creative action and how it is effected by its collective setting. What is creativity in the first place? How is the "psychology" of creativity affected by the collective context. How to theorize and investigate creativity empirically?
My other great interest is cultural sociology and 'zeit-diagnostics': How does contemporary Western culture differ from earlier times? How does the concept of youth and generation change? what is retro culture? How to understand the contemporary figure of the hipster? What is fashion and how does it influence our lives? How to approach phenomena such as authenticity, humor and irony in a sociological perspective?
Finally, I have worked a bit with methodological issues; with questions as how to phenomenologically describe the familiar and transparent; how to develop good and creative empirical observations and descriptions; how to 'theorize' without losing the connection to phenomena. Recently, I have gained some experience with digital methods.
- Sociological Theory https://www.uio.no/studier/emner/sv/iss/SOS4001/
- Cultural Sociology https://www.uio.no/studier/emner/sv/iss/SOS4510/index.html
2018- Professor, Department of sociology and Human Geography, Oslo University
2017-2018 Postdoctoral fellow, Department of sociology and Human Geography, Oslo University
2016-17 Marie Curie Research fellow, Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies, Erfurt University
2014-2016 Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen.
2010-2014 Assistant Professor, Department of sociology, University of Copenhagen.
Current Research Project
A bit about my current research project which focuses on how collective contexts influence creative action on different cultural fields:
- It investigates the guidance provided by the 'object' in creative action
- It investigates the effect of the collective context upon this relation (to the object).
- Empirically, it investigates and compares this interplay on three different cultural fields: music, religion and academia.
1) Creative action. Creativity does not belong to the subject or the 'actor', but rather to the activity in which it is absorbed. In a word, the actions we undertake turn around and seize us. Whether we are singing a song, in contact with the divine through prayer, or working on an academic paper, we have to make ourselves susceptible to 'objective' forms of practical, aesthetic or conceptual 'structure', emerging interior to the activity in question, which one the one hand are projected by us, but which on the other hand 'guides' us in our actions. No one can sing without listening; no one can make a rhythm without being 'seized' by it; no one can speak without being found by the right words. In a word, all intentional action entails non-intentional or non-purposive elements. These are indeed the creative moments. On this basis, the project seeks to theorize creative action.
2) Social influence. All the time, we are more or less unwittingly drawn towards shared fascinations, attractions and desires, material or immaterial. Such fascinations are of collective origin. Here a continuum exists, ranging between 'interactionist' situations of collective co-presence and strongly 'mediated' forms of collectivity. On the one end of this continuum we find the singer animated and animating the concert audience. On the other end we find mediated collectives held together exclusively through dynamics of collective selection; through gathering around the same objects. Think about how dynamics of fashion influence such diverse fields as popular opinions, scientific theory, design, all areas of popular taste, political or religious currents, language and speech patterns etc. In this sense, the thinking or acting subject is never alone. In a modern society in which individualized creative expression is required in ever more cultural areas (in both private and professional life), vague forms of 'solidarity' or collectivity are mediated through 'individualized' creative practices taking place around an abundance of collectively 'charged' fascinations. The project seeks to theorize how the collective context influences creative action on different levels of mediation.
3) Empirically, the project centers on three different cultural fields: a) aesthetic creativity (primarily jazz singers), b) religious creativity (fieldwork in the Pentecostal church) and c) conceptual creativity (research carried out among students and researchers of sociology). Data are gathered mainly through interviews with informants active on the three fields.
The project bridges borders between different sociological strands. Through selective readings of prominent theories, it deliberately – and controversially – seeks to combine heterogeneous sources: theories of 'resonance' (Hartmut Rosa), conceptions of action and agency found in ANT inspired accounts (Bruno Latour) and phenomenology (Maurice Merleau-Ponty), Durkheim's sociology of religion and theory of ritual.