Category Archives: measure

The Elemental Forms of Social Life

A draft is available upon request.

translucent-concrete-2The Elemental Forms of Social Life

Abstract. The notion of elemental reality is parsed here as instrumental to a renewal of the understanding of social formations, orders, processes, events, and, more generally, social life. In an attempt to analyze how an elemental reality can be said to be at play, the category of ‘the visible’ is considered, so as to evince some of its constitutive dimensions, properties, and moments.

Keywords: social theory; medium theory; social environment; elemental reality; the visible


Punk is magic

‘…and those people who believe in the hairstyle, they call ‘em punk, and if you want to know the truth then I am really a punk. I’m a punk. I’m out of control and I can’t be controlled, if I want to spit here I spit here, if I want to piss there I piss there, anything I want to do I do it. Punk is magic.’

Lee Scratch Perry


Urban Phases: Crystallisation

Paper at TCS Philosophy & Literature Conference 2019, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt, Austria, May 29th – June 2nd, 2019

Now published in City, Culture and Society



An analysis of the city through its crystallising processes is here proposed. Because crystallisation involves phase transition, a review of the latter, as well of the notion of phase in its relation to order, is first submitted. Then the question is posed: Can we suggest that cities have phases? What would it imply to study cities as “phased beings”, or phased phenomena? Which characteristics of crystalline phases can prove most relevant for cities? The paper explores crystallisation as a lens for understanding spatial order, temporality, individuality and perception in the course, and in the context, of the urban process and urban life.



Urban phases; Urban crystallisation; Crystal growth; Crystalline life; Crystallised cities; Urban perception;  Urban individuality



 Conference website

Conference programme


Special issue: Theorising measures, rankings and metrics


Now out at:

Featuring :

Measurements and their limits – Editorial
David Jaclin, Peter Wagner

Umwelt-measures. On extensive and intensive measures: Introduction to the special issue ‘Theorising measures, rankings and metrics’
Andrea Mubi Brighenti

Ethical dimensions of quantification
Wendy Espeland, Vincent Yung

Commensuration, compromises and critical capacities: Wage determination in collective firms
Nina Pohler

Evaluations as value-measurement links: Exploring metrics and meanings in science
Felicitas Hesselmann, Cornelia Schendzielorz

The role of measurement in theorising about the world
Nicole Holzhauser, Frank Eggert

When reactivity fails: The limited effects of hospital rankings
Christopher Dorn

The social life of measures

Now published in Theory, Culture & Society 35(1)



Issues of measure and measurement, and their relation to value and values, are of concern in several major threads in contemporary social theory and social research. In this paper, the notion of ‘measure-value environments’ is introduced as a theoretical lens through which the life of measures can be better understood. A number of points are made which represent both a continuation and a slight change in emphasis vis-à-vis the existing scholarship. First, it is argued that the relation between measure and value is necessarily circular – better, entangled. Second, a conceptualisation of measures as territorialising devices is advanced. Third, importance is given to the fact that measures are not simply tools in our hands, they are also environments in which we live. Fourth, attention is drawn to the fact that the unit (n=1) is not just a quantitative happening among others, but is qualitatively distinct.

The Social Life of Measures (pre-print version)


Logistic time / evental time. Two notions for urban and architectural research

phoca_thumb_l_storica_tracce2_cernLecture at the Seminar ‘Architecture: enduring, ephemeral, moving, dust’

Department of Architecture and Built Environment, Lunds Tekniska Högskola, Lund University, December 2, 2014



In this lecture, I would like to imagine some ways in which we may study temporality in the city and the built environment. In the first part, I present a theorization of time that draws from the lineage Bergson-Deleuze. I explore in some details the notion of ‘the instant’ as it appears in Deleuze’s The Logic of Sense (1969), and how this notion relates to two distinct images of time, namely aiòn and chronos. Subsequently, I would like to puzzle about how these philosophical images could be productively employed to examine urban spacestimes, rhythms and territories on the making. To this aim, I resort to the ‘tensed entwinement’ of logistics and the event. Logistics, which is originally a military art, concerns the calculated dispatching and delivering of goods to the right place at the right time. As such, it is part of a broader attempt at governing flows in the city. Thus, the interpretive framework in which I would suggest to place logistics is Foucault’s notion of ‘liberal governmentality’, as elaborated in particular in The birth of biopolitics (1979). On the other hand, Foucault’s analysis of freedom as a governmental notion also introduced the notion of ‘possible event’ as a phenomenon and object to be incorporated into a distinctive calculation. My argument is that an unresolved tension remains between logistic calculation and the event. Different images of time may help us to capture what is at stake here. The third and conclusive part of the lecture will consist in setting up a series of open questions which could potentially outline a research agenda for urban and architectural research aiming at bringing temporality into the focus of spatial analysis.

The Ambiguous Multiplicities

Materials, Episteme and Politics of Cluttered Social Formations


This book proposes a historical-conceptual journey into the cluttered social formations that have remained outside of mainstream sociology. In particular, it reviews urban crowds, mediated publics, global masses, population, the sovereign people and the multitude and addresses the question: ‘What is the building block of the social?’.


1. Multiplicities Old and New
2. Urban Crowds, Mediated Publics and Global Masses
3. Population, ‘the People’ and the Multitude
4. What is the Building Block of the Social? Episteme of the One and the Many
5. Across and Within: Issues of Virality, Imitation and Reactivity
Conclusions: Visible Multiplicities and Layered Individuals


+ info |


Download full book in pdf here : brighenti-2014-the-ambiguous-multiplicities