Robert Mitchell

Robert Mitchell

Ammerländer Heerstraße 114-118 
D-26129 Oldenburg 
Building A3, Room A3 1-108  
Tel: +49 441 798-2385      


Making Moves. A Sociological Study of Ballet and Tajiquan Practice


My research is an ethnographic study of ballet and taijiquan lesson situations. The study’s central issue is to consider how moves are made in a deliberately ambiguous sense, following, on the one hand, the movers and the issues that they face when actually making these moves with ‘their bodies,’ and on the other hand, the moves-in-the-making studying how the bodily practice of moving leads to social phenomena of a perceived concreteness and systematicity that is otherwise reserved for languages and their grammars. A central resource for the study’s methodical implementation is my ‘own body’ that was previously trained and utilized in a professional ballet capacity and for the purposes of this research participated autoethographically in taijiquan lessons, thus, offering the opportunity for in-depth analyses of the attempted transition between these two ways of making moves. The study aims to contribute especially to discussions on the sociology of the body and theories of practice, with the ultimate aim, to (ab)use Wittgenstein's topos, of inquiring to what extent the limits of our movements are the limits of our world.

Main Areas of Research

  • Ethnomethodology
  • Sociology of the Body
  • Theories of Practice
  • Methodology of the Social Sciences

Brief Vita

since 2012   Doctoral scholarship at the Research Training Group “Self-Making. Practices of Subjectivation in Historical and Interdisciplinary Perspective" at Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg
2012- 2013Admission into the doctoral scholarship programme of the German National Academic Foundation
2011- 2012 Research assistant at the research Centre SoCuM at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
2010- 2011Lecturer at the Institute of Sociology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
2006- 2008Admission into the scholarship programme of the German National Academic Foundation
2003- 2010Study of sociology and linguistics at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Degree: M.A., Theme of the master's thesis: “In the Panopticon of Movement. Ethnographic Observations of Ballet Rehearsals”
2002- 2003Study of physics at Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms University Bonn
1999- 2002Koblenz College for Continuation Education to gain A-level equivalent
1996- 1998Ballet dancer at Theater der Stadt Koblenz, Germany
1993- 1996Doreen Bird College of Performing Arts, London, England
1988- 1993The Hammond School, Chester, England


WiSe 2010/11   Seminar: "Knowing in Motion: Die Vermittlung des Körperwissens in Theorie und Praxis"
Tutorials: "Introduction to Sociology” at the Institute for Sociology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
SoSe 2010Tutorials: Sociological Theory at the Institute for Sociology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz

Further Academic Functions

since 2014Translator for the journal “Sport, Ethics and Philosophy”, Routledge.
since 2010Editorial assistant for the journal "Language and Dialogue", John Benjamins Publishing Company
2003- 2010 Student research assistant at the Centre for Quality Assurance and Development at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz


April 2014with Kristina Brümmer "Touching and Sayings. Intercorporeal Corrections in Acrobatics and Taijiquan Training Settings”, at the annual conference of the DVS sections “sport sociology” and “sport philosophie”, Oldenburg.
Oktober 2010 "Im Panopticon der Bewegung. Eine ethnographische Betrachtung von Ballettproben", for the section "Soziologie des Körpers und des Sports", DGS congress, Frankfurt am Main.


Mitchell, Robert (2013): Im Panopticon der Bewegung. Eine ethnographische Betrachtung von Ballettproben, In: Soeffner, Hans-Georg (ed.): Transnationale Vergesellschaftungen. Verhandlungen des 35. Kongresses der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie in Frankfurt am Main 2010, CD-ROM.Wiesbaden: Springer VS.


Shilling, Chris; Mellor, Philip A. (2012): Die Verkörperung der Religionssoziologie. Körperpädagogik und der religiöse Habitus, In: Gugutzer, Robert; Böttcher, Moritz (eds.): Körper, Sport und Religion. Zur Soziologie religiöser Verkörperungen, S. 97–122. Wiesbaden: Springer VS. Translated with Robert Gugutzer.

Turner, Bryan S. (2012): Körper, Religion und Praxis: Bourdieu, Foucault und Heidegger, In: Gugutzer, Robert; Bötcher, Moritz (eds.): Körper, Sport und Religion. Zur Soziologie religiöser Verkörperungen, S. 73–95. Wiesbaden: Springer VS. Translated with Robert Gugutzer.

(Changed: 19 Dec 2022)  |