Month: August 2017

In his superb From Counterculture to Cyberculture, Fred Turner vividly describes The Whole Earth Catalog and the horizon it opened up for many of its readers. From loc 1212: For many, the Catalog provided a first, and sometimes overwhelming, glimpse of the New Communalists’ intellectual world. Gareth Branwyn, for instance, a journalist who later wrote for Wired magazine, […]

There’s an interesting extract on pg 52-53 of Infinite Distraction, by Dominic Pettman, discussing the seductions of abundance under conditions of scarcity: Those readers old enough to remember what it was like to live before the Internet will recall the strange phenomenon where the general noosphere seduced us by its sheer beckoning presence. Thus, we […]

Call for Papers One-day workshop, Maynooth University, Ireland, December 14th, 2017  Hosted by the Programmable City project at Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute and the Department of Geography In line with the parallel concepts of slow food (e.g. Miele & Murdoch 2002) or slow scholarship (Mountz et al 2015), ‘slow computing’ (Fraser 2017) is a provocation to resist. In […]

Abstraction is active. It is something one does, in a fully embodied way, within a context. It is undertaken for reasons and structured by dispositions which are inevitably prior to the situation in which one is abstracting. Abstraction is relational. One always abstracts from an object, stepping back from its particularity in order to foreground specific attributes and background others. […]

What is social media for? This is the question I’ve found myself asking after spending the morning responding to this, as I contemplate calling it a day on the blog I’ve been editing for over seven years. I obviously have a stock answer to the question: social media is for all the things scholars did […]

The notion of the ‘revolving door’ is something I’ve spent much time pondering when campaigning against the arms trade. I’ve talked to Andrew Feinstein, former South African MP and long-standing critic of the arms trade, for two podcasts which explored this issue. Here’s the most recent one I recorded. This is how Campaign Against the […]

For a book of only 126 pages, Kill All Normies covers a remarkable amount of ground. Inevitably, the argument is underdeveloped at points and it perhaps offers less empirical detail about the alt-right than it promises, largely restricting its analysis to the study of (relatively) high profile cases and the inferences that can be made […]

What is a game? A standard definition is “a form of competitive activity or sport played according to rules” and this has been the working conception when I’ve encountered theoretical engagements with the notion of a game. But a recent symposium on eSports left me reflecting on how much more complex the ontology of games […]

I wrote recently about a short article by Michael Burawoy in which he bemoaned the ascendancy of the spiralists within universities. These relentlessly ambitious new entrants to the university system see it as a theatre within which they can make themselves known, spiralling into the university before once more spiralling out of it to bigger and better […]

In his memoir Hinterland, the former Labour Minister and acclaimed diarist Chris Mullin reflects on the cult of youth in British politics. This was manifested in the bright young things, lacking experience outside of politics and with little non-instrumental participation within it, coming to dominate the parties. But it was most striking in the leadership itself, with […]

Reading Immaterialism by Graham Harman, I’m struck by the overlap between his account of ‘duomining’ and Margaret Archer’s critique of conflation. As he writes on pg 27-28, “If we reduce an object downward to its pieces, we cannot explain emergence; if we reduce it upwards to its effects, we cannot explain change.” While Archer’s argument […]

A Sociological Review Foundation Workshop Goldsmiths, University of London Saturday 2nd December 2017 09.30-18.00, followed by wine reception The Sociological Review is delighted to announce the opportunity to take part in a one-day workshop on Sociology and social media. This workshop will be taking place exactly a year after the Value & Values event. It will allow issues to be raised by […]

There’s a disturbing snippet in Naomi Klein’s latest book, No Is Not Enough, discussing the growing market for disaster-preparation amongst well-heeled elites. While it’s possible there’s a large element of conspicuous consumption at work here, amongst people who have more disposable income than things they can buy with it, it nonetheless makes for disturbing reading. […]

Towards the end of Kill All Normies, Angela Nagle discusses the chilling effect liable to ensue from the online harassment which journalists critical of the alt-right often now find themselves subject to. From pg 118: Multiple journalists and citizens have described in horrifying detail the attacks and threats against those who criticize Trump or figures of […]

In an important essay earlier this year, Jan-Werner Müller identifies a dangerous tendency for leftist critics to take the claims of right-populist demagogues at face value. Suddenly vindicated in their struggle with the ‘third way’ that has dominated the centre-left, the claims of nascent populists to speak for a ‘left behind’ majority, created by the […]

In Immaterialism, Graham Harman offers a provocative critique of Latour’s social theory, praising Actor-Network Theory as “the most important philosophical method to emerge since phenomenology in 1900” (pg. 1) while also regarding its account of objects as philosophically deficient. While he accepts the ANT thesis that objects mediate human relations, something which chips away at […]

In the last few years, I’ve become interested in what I think of as shadow mobilisation: assembling people under false pretences and/or in a way intended to create a misleading impressions of the mobilisation. This is often framed in terms of astroturfing – fake grass roots – however it appears to me to extend beyond […]