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Panic and reflexivity

From Zizek’s Pandemic! loc 439: What this contrast tells us is that panic is not a proper way to confront a real threat. When we react in panic, we do not take the threat seriously—we, on the contrary, trivialize it. Just think how ridiculous is the notion that having enough […]

Durkheim on bounding variety

There’s an interesting parallel between Durkheim’s conception of social regulation and what Archer calls ‘bounding variety’ and Cybernetics describes as ‘attenuating variety’. As Durkheim writes on pg 300 in a discussion of marriage and divorce, “One cannot avoid looking outside the place where one is when one no longer feels […]

Durkheim on the origin of reflexivity

From Suicide pg 163: Reflection only develops when it becomes necessary for it to develop; that is to say, if a certain number of unconsidered ideas and feelings which, until then, had sufficed to govern behaviour, have become ineffectual. At such times, reflection intervenes to fill the void that has […]

Externalisation as defence mechanism

I thought this was a fascinating aside on loc 999 of Joshua Cohen’s Not Working about Andy Warhol’s reliance on a tape recorder to distance himself from his feelings. This is something many people do, thinking around the troubles rather than feeling them, but rarely so explicitly and with an apparatus: […]

The social ontology of trans-human life

My notes on Maccarini, A. M. (2018). Trans-human (life-) time: Emergent biographies and the ‘deep change’in personal reflexivity. In Realist Responses to Post-Human Society: Ex Machina (pp. 138-164). Routledge. One of the interesting features of the recent Centre for Social Ontology project on defending the human has been the realisation that many in the group […]

The Sociology of Escalation Effects

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about escalation effects, by which I mean the tendency of some courses of action to escalate beyond our initial expectations or capacity to control. My favourite examples involve information overload. An active reader will often follow up references from books they are reading, with an […]

The Dispositions of the Metricised

In our discussion of metrics systems, it’s easy to treat subjectivity as a cipher, regarding people as passively moulded by algorithms or blindly governed by the incentives that operate through the institutionalisation of the metrics. My objection to the former is not the claim that people are shaped by metrics, but rather the […]

Conceptualising ‘distraction’

Notes for my talk for the Reflexivity Forum at Warwick on May 24th What does it mean to be distracted? For the last year, I’ve been telling people that I’m working on a new project about digital distraction and everyone seems to immediately grasp what I mean by this. But […]