Touch as culture

This is a design brief, one of many themes that the Touch project is investigating.

Anne Galloway is a social researcher working at the intersections of technology, space and culture. Anne’s research in the Touch project involves looking at touch in different social and cultural contexts, in the first instance working towards Touchpædia, a reference and resource:

“I’m interested in cultural practices surrounding what can, and cannot, touch. Applied to RFID and Near-Field Communication, this becomes a question of connecting some things and disconnecting others. Put another way: whether we’re concerned with issues of technological privacy or publicity in our everyday lives, I believe we’re well served by a stronger understanding of cross-cultural examples of ritualised contact and avoidance. It’s my hope that the Touchpædia will be a step in that direction, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it might lead.”

What are the various meanings of touch, and how do they vary according to social and cultural context? How do cultural meanings of touch manifest in contemporary technology, advertising, media and in the design of technology itself?

This is an exploratory project that would involve field work, and the possibility of collaboration with Anne.


Introducing touch as culture and The rituals of touching, Anne Galloway on the Touch weblog.

Classen, Constance. The Book of Touch, Berg Publishers, July 2005. Link

Ackerman, Diane. A natural history of the senses, Random House, 1990. Link

Read more about these design briefs.

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