What was most surprising about a recent ‘interdisciplinary’ LSE workshop on Attention, organised by the Anthropology department, was the absence of sociology as well as media and communications researchers; most participants were either anthropologists or psychologists.
You would expect that media and communications which is primarily concerned with media industry, media text, and media audience would be interested in the notion of attention as a prerequisite to any act of mediation or communication. Also, if sociology is ultimately about meaningful social action, attention must be seen as the first phase of any social action.
The truth is that there is no social account of attention developer by social theorists; an account which can explain the initial orientation which makes any social action possible. Can we speak, listen, read, write, love or hate without an orientation toward another person or institution? Is it possible to imagine a social act without an orientation toward a social actor?
This initial orientation, also known as attention, is the foundation for any relation between social objects, i.e. actors, institutions, or artefacts, which we call social action.
Before any social action, there is a relation between an attender and an attendee which we call attention.