Institutions and transformations of collective lives
Which transformations does collective life experience, when nomadic people are systematically territorialized, settled for instance on the urban periphery of Ulan-Bator in Mongolia? Or which alterations does society undergo in the case of the rapid and massive urbanization in Central China today? The article is based on a sociological theory which argues for the socially constitutive potential of architectural artefacts: It sees architecture not as the ‘mirror’ of a given society, but rather as a mode of society itself. With this theoretical perspective, the article unfolds the methodological proposal of a comparative architectural sociology, contrasting four divergent architectural modes of collective existence. This comparative view, which is that of structural anthropology, aims to highlight the societal positivity of architecture (infrastructures and modes of settlement included), as well as current architectural changes of collectivities such as the urbanization of Central China, or the settlement of the Mongolian nomads. The article consists of four parts: In the first and second parts, the theoretical perspective and the comparative methodology are sketched. The third part contrasts four divergent architectural modes of collective existence, and the fourth and final part exemplarily discusses some architectural transformations.