Nottingham explores the visual, tactile and sensory aspects of organisational experience at ESRC event

SCOS 2015 may be over nine months away, but there was more than a hint of SCOS at the ‘Our Workplace, Our Story‘ workshop held this weekend at the Nottingham Contemporary art gallery. The event was organised by Dr. Gwen Chen of Nottingham Business School, one of over 200 events taking place nationally during the ESRC Festival of Social Science.


esrc07The event explored the ways in which we experience and make sense of our work and organisational life through visual, tactile and other sensory stimuli. On arrival, guests were invited to represent aspects of organisational life through such visual and tactile means, by drawing and constructing Lego and Play-doh models.

esrc20The first speaker, Professor Samantha Warren of the University of Essex, will be familiar to delegates of many SCOS conferences past, and was co-organiser of SCOS 2010 in Lille. Sam explored research methodologies which aim to capture embodied experiences of the organisation, using smell and photographic images as research tools. She outlined results of research into the visual aspects of spaces within organisations and, looking to the future, posed questions about how such methodologies might develop beyond transcribing sensory experiences of organisations as text.

esrc27Sam was followed by Professor Nick Llewelyn of the University of Warwick, who explored the tactile nature or our interaction with money, specifically cash. Nick presented video data of people in situations of handing over cash, noting how in the handling and handing over of cash a repeated and consistent set of visual and tactile communications were made. He suggested  that this sensory communication around the exchange of cash is a widespread form of human communication whose future is uncertain as we move towards a cashless economy.

Set in the stunning visual environment of Nottingham Contemporary’s subterranean ‘The Space,’ the event was attended by a mix of academics, students and members of the public who enjoyed the highly entertaining and thought-provoking presentations from both speakers.

See the full event gallery below (click on individual images for a larger version)