Down the Pan: New Directions in the Sociology of Dirt

The Sociological Review


Dirt is a ubiquitous aspect of life.

Whether it is the social constraints preventing you from urinating in the street, the tedium of washing up (again) or the language of pollution being used of demarcate one group from another, dirt is all around. It is, as Mary Douglas has argued, 'matter out of place', but it is also so much more than that. Down the Pan brings together sociologists with anthropologists, philosophers, geographers and an activist stand-up comic to explore: the ways in which dirt is brought into being as dirt through social action, how the language and concepts of dirt are used to boundary morally good from morally bad action, and how the built environment shapes these processes.

Drawing on research on cleaning in the 'public' and 'private' spheres of street, home and the circular economy, the materiality of toilets and how they shape the experiences of women, disabled people and menstruators, and the 'shitscapes' produced by hidden and unhidden excretions, this volume explores what it is to belong. By examining the dirty through attention to bodies, belonging and built environment, this pioneering book provides an original, lively (and sometimes contentious) conversation on what it is to be dirty in the twenty-first century, moving sociological and anthropological discussion about dirt, the dirty and the costs of inattention to the marginalia of social life into exciting new terrain. 

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