Category: Archive

From Zizi Papacharissi’s A Private Sphere pg 68: Meyrowitz (1986) described this as the ability of electronic media to remove, or at least rearrange, boundaries between public and private spaces, affecting our lives not so much through content, but rather “by changing the ‘situational geography’ of social life” (p. 6). In the seminal No Sense […]

If I understand this notion from Zizi Papacharissi correctly*, it captures something important about social media. These platforms create an experience of expansiveness which doesn’t hook into the social world in a significant way. It’s a free-wheeling expansiveness, to use a term from Roy Bhaskar’s critique of Richard Rorty, a trick of perspective which affects […]

I co-organised an unusual conference last week. Thinking on the Move hosted 11 sociological walks over two days, leading from a room at Goldsmiths College where we began and ended each day. I went on an infrastructural walk around Bermondsey, a digital mapping walk in Nunhead cemetery, a blindfolded sensory walk around New Cross and a […]

I can’t go on My head has grown too heavy I need that song Those trusty chords could pull me through And early on They saw the warning signs and symptoms all day long Wonder how far from you we’ll fall We were always waiting We were always waiting We were always waiting for something […]

From Richard Seymour’s The Twittering Machine loc 1467: A feed filled with topless mirror shots, gym photos, new hair, and so on, might be seen as a peculiar form of idolatry. But it is less a tribute to the user than to the power that the machine has over the user. A power which, without […]

I wrote this as a contribution to the Society for Research Into Higher Education’s contribution to the ESRC Consultation on Leadership Development: The research literature suggests a significant minority of academics use social media as part of their working life, with social trends suggesting this number will only grow with time. It has become an […]

From this speech at Davos: The power to shape people’s attention is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few companies. It takes a real effort to assert and defend what John Stuart Mill called “the freedom of mind.” There is a possibility that once lost, people who grow up in the digital age will […]

From John Thompson’s Media & Modernity pg 41-42: In interpreting symbolic forms, individuals incorporate them into their own understanding of themselves and others. They use them as a vehicle for reflection and self-reflection, as a basis for thinking about themselves, about others and about the world to which they belong. I shall use the term […]

This useful essay in the Hedgehog review links the contemporary flourishing of realism to the politics of ‘post-truth’, making a change from crass accusations that trump is the fault of postmodernism. While his focus is on speculative, critical and new realism, the point could be generalised to include new materialism, agential realism, ANT and assemblage […]

From John Thompson’s Media & Modernity pg 13: In some cases these positions acquire a certain stability by being institutionalized–that is, by becoming part of a relatively stable cluster of rules, resources and social relations. Institutions can be viewed as determinate sets of rules, resources and relations which have some degree of durability in time […]

From pg 163 of Material Participation by Noortje Marres: Among concepts of the community of the affected we could also include theories of affective politics developed in recent cultural theory (Thrift, 2008; Terranova, 2007; Blackman, 2008). Such ‘post-emotive’ conceptions of the public propose to understand the mobilization of publics in terms of the quick and […]

What does it mean to speak of a digital condition? How can we describe, explain and understand our digital condition? What is it, that we are trying to come to terms with? Where exactly does ‘the problem’ of technology lie? Beginning in October 2019 we will embark on an experimental discussion group centred around those […]

I found this interesting from pg 13-14 of Sonia Purnell’s immensely readable biography of Boris Johnson: Boris–or rather ‘Al’–would move house but he would do so a total of 32 times over the next 14 years. 8 As a whole, throughout his childhood he lived in five cities, five London boroughs, one Somerset village (in […]

This is how it works You’re young until you’re not You love until you don’t You try until you can’t You laugh until you cry You cry until you laugh And everyone must breathe Until their dying breath No, this is how it works You peer inside yourself You take the things you like And […]

To speak of the acceleration of social theory can sound counter intuitive, as we often regard theory as a quintessentially slow pursuit in which careful reflection leads to a gradual accumulation of insight. But there are a number of mundane senses in which theory is getting faster: There is likely to be more being published […]

Call for Papers for the Second Annual Conference: Capitalism, Social Science and the Platform University 28 – 29 November 2019 at Lancaster University Higher education is increasingly ‘platformised’. Indeed, digital platforms have become ubiquitous. They are dominant intermediaries not only in our social, economic and political life, but have become central forms of capitalist accumulation. While […]

The tendency for critical realists to get irritated when people talk about political/empirical ontology gets in the way of what has the potential to be a fascinating dialogue if constructed in an open and engaging manner. In my experience, critical realists treat this tradition as self-evidently absurd or simply insist “that’s epistemology, not ontology” without being […]

This section from Material Participation by Noortje Marres brought home the sociological significance of lifestyle experiments to me. I’d been prone to framing things like lifestyle minimalism as a form of neo-asceticism and I can easily see a more charitable framing along the lines of pg 91 here: They can be likened to the experimental […]