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Suffering in Networks



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  • 1. Networks and Suffering [email_address] NTNU, Trondheim
  • 2. My/The Problem
    • How to establish a non-trivial but meaningful description of suffering
  • 3. “ non-trivial”
    • Trivial 1: suffering is defined by the “sufferer”
      • Problem: living together peacefully
      • Common solution: deliberation or some other pragmatic process, which determines a hierarchy of suffering (which works well as long as everyone plays along)
    • Trivial 2: suffering is defined by some normative idea about what a non-suffering individual should look like
      • Problem: these definitions produce too much suffering themselves (a forgotten critique against the Fordist welfare state)
      • Common solution: none, business as usual
  • 4. “ meaningful”
    • Theory which does not turn to stone in the face of suffering
  • 5. My Tools
    • «Old» network theory (Castells/Sassen/Machiavellian ANT)
    • Irreversible and reversible translations (Michel Callon) and systematic relations between them
    • After method (John Law)
  • 6. One origin of ANT: STS
    • Technoscience: Science based on technology, technology based on science, everyday life completely permeated by both (if you like it or not, sorry)
    • Realism/Constructivism: Not many things left which are not made by people (if you like it or not, sorry). And those things made by people are in fact real!
  • 7. Suffering and «old network theory»
    • Sassen: Centres and margins of networks, globalisation from above and from below
    • Castells: 'Elites are global, people are local', global flows wash away the “self”, inciting opposition using “projected identities”
    • Machiavellian ANT: coalitions of people and things which act as mutual resources
    • Connected/Disconnected/Degrees of connectedness (number of connections)
  • 8. New (?) network theory
    • A history of associations: how stable are the associations (producing a certain kind of nodes) of a given network, how easily are they replaced by alternative associations? (Callon 1991)
    • The so-called feminist critique of ANT: Reproducing the worldview of the the system-builders excludes “invisible labour” one more time
    • Instead: Mutual dependency of sets of less and more stable associations:
      • Compensation
      • Support
      • ...
  • 9.  
  • 10.  
  • 11. Suffering?
    • Not the number of links
    • Not the position within the network
    • But in the mutual production of more and less stable sets of associations
  • 12. And now: After method (Law 2004)
    • Let's not mistake unstable or stable networks for suffering
    • Let's accept that there are multiple, infinite, blurry objects
      • “ fire objects”
      • “ fluid objects”
      • more?
    • without having the project of turning them into “proper” objects
    • But for this a completely new kind of technoscience needed!