The last 30 years has seen an increase in our understanding of the shift in society towards the digital age of networked production. The emergence of contemporary subjectivites, such as the ‘digital worker/cognitariat’ as well as generational…
’ Such a relationship between public and private as the fulcrum of activism is not new and certainly not restricted to the binary of the labour movement and the NSMs, oriented as they are around distinct cleavages. Paul Lichterman’s study (1996) of the American environmental movement offers an important critique of ‘collective identity’ contrasting a community-based mode of activism evident in the African-American anti-toxic movement that hinges on ideals of duty to one’s community and the importance of formal organisation with a model associated with ‘middle-class’ and white Green activism whose culture and modes of organising are instead manifestations of ‘personal commitment’. Lichterman defines personalism as shared ways of speaking or acting that emphasize the personal self rather than its relationships to specific communities or institutions. The emphasis here is on a unique and personal self emphasized through a highly ‘personalized’ involvement in decisions and the reluctance to embrace formal hierarchy and organisation. This is in line with the work of Castells and the decisive role of ICT and information networks in new kinds of social morphology, where contemporary societies are ‘increasingly structured around a bipolar opposition between the Net and the self’ (Castells, 1996). Castells underlines the increasing processes of individualisation associated with network culture (in particular the individualization of life trajectories and work identities) and points to these processes at work in social movements such as the Green movement, suggesting that these may point to new ‘network’ paradigms of action culture (castells, 1996). Ultimately Castell’s position is a defensive one where defensive communities are in contestation with global flows - an analysis not dissimilar from that of Habermas in understanding social movements in defending the ‘life world’ against the expansion of the system (Habermas, 1981).
Building upon the Castellian networked morphology founded upon the binary of the ‘self and the Net’ which replaces the previous dichotomy of private/ public sociality, Boltanski and Chiapello (Boltanski and Chiapello, 1999) claim that we are witnessing a transition from industrial to network capitalism and that such a shift is as seismic as that from familial to bureaucratic capitalism that was at the heart of Weberian political sociology. Within this transition they explore new modes of work, claiming it is possible to identify a network model that represents a rupture between the old separation of public and private existence and, therefore, of personal and professional capacities. Within such a process the contours that striate and distinguish work from life are thus diminished and the border between the one and other becomes increasingly permeable. Dubar (2000) advances similar claims arguing that community and ‘status’ modes of identity are rapidly diminishing giving way to new problematics such as the construction of subjectivity in relationality - where successful learning is moving from a model of absorbing information to one of constructing a narrative of the self. Dubar emphasizes the extent to which these point to the increased importance of personal (reflexive and narrative) dimensions of identity as opposed to a collective (community and status) model.
This analysis converges with the work of Alain Touraine (Touraine,1984, 2000) and his work on the ‘sociology of the subject’ which defines contemporary social conflict not in terms of collective identity and its defence, but in terms of a struggle for coherence and selfhood. Contemporary social conflicts represent resistance to what Touraine calls ‘de-individualisation’ and the destruction of the capacity to produce a relationship with oneself. Elsewhere Melucci (Melucci, 1996a) argues that the individual is increasingly becoming the nexus of the social structure. Within this framework inequality is primarily about a lack of access to means of individuation - where the deprivation of such possibility to individuate reflects the existing structures of domination itself. Melucci as with Touraine, insists that social conflict now emerges at the level of individual experience - where the meaning of action is formed and to which new forms of domination are directed (Melucci, 1996b).’ Aaron Peters
Day 3 This user will never exist again. The word ‘deactivate’ has such crushing, terminal connotations. Real lethargy and depression. I didn’t want to get out of bed. Where there was an active void there’s a passive one now, but it’s still an emptiness. I feel so out of touch. I am suspended in the solitary void of the offline not knowing whether to stop or start breathing, and there is no one I can tell.
I didn’t miss the Internet because I wondered what everyone else was doing; I missed it because I couldn’t tell them what I was doing. It wasn’t the connectivity that I was physically longing, or the mutual relationships these sites pride themselves on facilitating; the only withdrawal I was experiencing was from the ease at which I could so freely exercise my narcissistic tendencies in the digital arena.
[…] It was at this point that, regardless of what was at stake (my degree, my mental health, etc) I realized that I desperately needed to continue with this self-imposed digital exile.
This event has being rescheduled for September at another venue.
Novara ‘After The Future’ film screening- Robocop
A screening of the 1987 classic directed by Paul Verhoeven.
While the film enjoyed both critical and commercial success on release, ‘Robocop’ as a work of political critique has been historically underestimated. Dealing with themes such as urban decay, regeneration, the privatisation of policing and the increasing encroachment of corporate interests over public life ‘Robocop’ offers a subtle and nuanced analysis of how ‘public services’ are increasingly ‘facilitated’ under late capitalism.
From the news broadcasts to the ubiquitous ‘Omnicorp’ (think Sodexo, G4S and Serco), from police officers taking industrial action to wholesale plans for the construction of ‘Delta City’ and the much needed job creation that such regeneration will catalyse, Robocop offers an insight into a world of capitalist realism which was not yet, in reality, triumphant (it’s release was, after all, two years before the fall of the Berlin Wall).
Some 15 years after it’s release the themes of ‘Robocop’ seem more germane than ever before.
7pm - Opening
7:15pm - Discussion panel begins
8pm - Break
8:30pm - Screening begins
10pm - End
the Roxy Bar and Screen -128 Borough High Street,SE1 1LB London, UK