112. Scene act ratio

June 18, 2009 § Leave a comment

Stimulated by Kenneth Burke,

In 19 65 I taught a course in the Harvard school of architecture on using drama theory to understand architectural spaces. The idea is simple: the stage set contains implicitly the actions that can be performed there, so if you want specific kinds of behavior, they have to be implicit in the scene. This is called the scene/act ratio.

I think this is an important way of looking at sustainability behavior – it can’t happen if it is not somehow “in” the scene where people actually are, where they reside, work, travel.

We tend to look at people’s behavior as determined by the policies and media messages they receive. But in fact people respond to the actual stage set of their life, the situation, the gestalt of daily living. Policies and media are only a small subset of the total scene.

A person cannot do what is not supported by the material situation as perceived and experienced, they are likely to do what the scene provides. One of the great advantages of working with Michael Shanks is the archeological perspective on the artifacts of daily life and the embeddedness of persons in specific contexts of daily living.

Thinking about the scene act ratio provides another leverage point on behavior change.


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You are currently reading 112. Scene act ratio at Reflections on GardenWorld Politics Douglass Carmichael.


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