Traceability

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Traceability: Gabriel Tarde via Bruno Latour via Trevor Giles and Cinzia Cremona

An attempt at applying some of the ideas presented by Bruno Latour at the LSE (podcast here). The ideas seemed to resonate with the informal reasoning for a Market of Ideas. It needs tightening up (see notes on discussion page).


If, with Latour, we look at what is generally described as the 'social' as a process of 'association', then Culture, as one of any number of connectors (?that may define a socialised identity?), - religion, law, science, technology, politics, organisation, fiction, etc - is performative. In other words, culture produces associations and 'subjects in progress' (Kristeva) in the act of producing itself. Rather than an entity (or something more than the sum of it's parts) think of 'the social' as a composite, a collective comprised of component monads (individuals). In other words, "the whole is never bigger than the part, but is the part itself expressed in a certain intensity and connected differently" (Latour, as accurate a quote as possible). From a scientific and philosophical view structure is an effect of distance - a perspective. The closer we look the more clearly we can discern the components that constitute the composite. see note 1. Within Critical Practice we appreciate the value, reflected in Latour's position, of a perspective that shifts back and forth between the composite/collective and its components. This is one aspect of the process of self-reflection.

Culture is empowered in some sense to be whatever it does. When we appreciate economics as a component of Culture we reflect the determining effect of economics upon Culture. However, since economics is also a performative connector - being constructed through monad economists and others - a (and not necessarily the same) culture is also a component of economics. see note 2.

This activity is not lost on economists, who according to Bruno Latour and and also Tim Harford have a tendency to work with models rather than practice or evidence (empirically flawed as science). Analysing this within the field of anthropology of economics Donald MacKenzie asks if markets are performative - made by economists through the performance of values.

Do cultural practitioners (and other 'monads') experience a similar agency to that of economists? An Engine, Not a Camera: How Financial Models Shape Markets by Donald MacKenzie connects to Critical Practice proposed session at the Congress - is it necessary in culture to propose Ideas in an effort to influence the structure of the composite? Differing models of economy being informed by differing (external) values. What we might do at the Congress is critique those values and perform alternatives. see note 3.

According to Latour, connectors are the vehicles that carry the 'truth condition' of association. see note 4. They are not external binding conditions (as Durkheim thought), but composites of individual behaviour. From this point of view, I imagine our market as a composite of composites (each stall). Each stall can be quite different. I am keen to set up some activity (a bit like the value game), through which information can be experienced directly, experimentally, without really knowing what conclusion one will come to.


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