Polarization as a Socio-Material Phenomenon: A Bibliographical Review

The actions of human beings cannot appropriately be understood without considering their physical surroundings. The material and the social are inseparable parts of a recursive socio-material loop in which they continuously affect each other in complex and unpredictable ways. This paper presents a literature review across a range of disciplines to examine how the literature has grasped or failed to grasp the processes between social conditions and material settings in community cohesion, polarization and radicalization. The literature review focuses on the urban aspects of war and post-war situations, the procedural aspects of polarization and radicalization, and disciplines with an inherent emphasis on materiality such as architecture and planning. The paper then assesses the value of science and technology studies as a conceptual framework for better understanding of the socio-material loop. To highlight how polarization can be a socio-material phenomenon, the article describes how a footbridge between hostile communities in Belfast, Northern Ireland, contributed to an escalation of violence in that area.


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  • Accession Number: 01147891
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jan 12 2010 9:45PM