… il n’en est pas moins vrai que les choses se passent comme si tout organisme supérieur était né d’une association de cellules qui se seraient partagé entre elles le travail. Très probablement, ce ne sont pas les cellules qui ont fait l’individu par voie d’association ; c’est plutôt l’individu qui a fait les cellules par voies de dissociation. Mais ceci même nous révèle, dans la genèse de l’individu, une hantise de la forme sociale, comme s’il ne pouvait se développer qu’à la condition de scinder sa substance en éléments ayant eux-mêmes une apparence d’individualité et unis entre eux par une apparence de sociabilité. Nombreux sont les cas où la nature paraît hésiter entre les deux formes, et se demander si elle constituera une société ou un individu : il suffit alors de la plus légère impulsion pour faire pencher la balance d’un côté ou de l’autre … dans des organismes rudimentaires faits d’une cellule unique, nous constatons déjà que l’individualité apparente du tout est le composé d’un nombre non défini d’individualités virtuelles, virtuellement associées. Mais, de bas en haut de la série des vivants, la même loi se manifeste. Et c’est ce que nous exprimons en disant qu’unité et multiplicité sont des catégories de la matière inerte, que l’élan vital n’est ni unité ni multiplicité pures, et que si la matière à laquelle il se communique le met en demeure d’opter pour l’une des deux, son option ne sera jamais définitive : il sautera indéfiniment de l’une à l’autre. L’évolution de la vie dans la double direction de l’individualité et de l’association n’a donc rien d’accidentel. Elle tient à l’essence même de la vie.
Henri Bergson 1907 (§III, 4)
Happy to join Nidesh Lawtoo’s Mimetic Turn upcoming conference. Especially looking forward to hearing from the distinguished keynotes. On my turn, I’ll be contributing some reflections about
Imitation, metamorphosis, becoming: A comparative social-theoretical sketch
Abstract. In my talk, I would like to address the relation between three notions that share significant similarities, but also exhibit crucial differences: these are Gabriel Tarde’s imitation, Elias Canetti’s transformation (Verwandlung), and Gilles Deleuze’s becoming (devenir). Tarde, whose work spanned the 1890s, is famously associated with the idea that social life is essentially imitative in nature, and although imitation does not truly exhaust his whole conception, it is amply elaborated and variously illustrated throughout his work. Both Canetti, writing in the 1950s, and Deleuze, through the 1960s and 1970s, seem to have subsequently deployed mimetic-like notions in their respective research; at the same time, both have been careful to remark how their conceptions remained distinct from the notion of imitative behaviour. My aim here is thus to compare and analyse these three notions, so as to untangle a little bit their complex, dense relations.
+info | https://hiw.kuleuven.be/hua/events/conferences-workshops/mimetic-turn
Video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dXJ_Lj9Umg
Happy to join the Symposium TEMPORARY – Citizenship, Architecture and City organised by Vando Borghi and Andrea Borsari, on Thu, Nov 11, 2021.
full programme here
+ info | https://da.unibo.it/it/eventi/temporary-citizenship-architecture-and-city-1
On social formation and territorial production
NOW published in Social Science Information – http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0539018418763560
Abstract. This piece explores the issues of morphogenesis and metamorphosis in socio-spatial formations and social assemblages. The specific key provided here to apprehend the issue of ‘form’ is what we propose to call the ‘animistic moment’ in form-taking processes. We believe that a conceptualisation of animistic moments might help us to better understand, not simply the coming about, but the specific yet elusive power forms are endowed with. The general social-theoretical horizon for the essay is an approach to social collectives as forms of territorialisation and territorial stabilisation. An inquiry into the genesis and the transformation of forms through animistic moments, we suggest, might also be employed in the study of processes of social territorialisation at large.
Keywords: social theory; genesis of forms; formative processes; individuals and social aggregates; socio-spatial formations; animistic moments;
1. The mystery of appearances
2. Metamorphosis and investments into form
3. Form-taking and the environment
4. The formation of individual collectives
5. Animistic moments and the revelations of form
6. Territorial production through animation
Now published in Theory, Culture & Society 35(1) http://journals.sagepub.com/toc/tcsa/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)
Now Published in Frontiers in Sociology | Sociological Theory
Abstract. In the context of a social-theoretical take on the link between social life and visibility, this paper invites to shift the focus from visibility phenomena to “the visible”. A theory of visibility, it is submitted, must be constructed as a theory of the medium. In opposition to visibility as a set of formal relations, what the visible brings to the fore is the existence of a mid-term, a connective tissue. Also, if a theory is a prelude to a science, then a theory is needed that makes possible to measure the visible in itself. The development of an “intrinsic” theory of the visible, one capable of generating its own variables and constants, along with the conceptual space for their articulation, is retrieved through the joint contributions of surface theories (Simmel, Goffman, Portmann) and intensity theories (Deleuze, Thom). The piece presents a set of notions that could be of use to analyze the fiber of the visible and the trajectories occurring in the visible, in view of laying out a series of laws of the visible.
Available at : https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fsoc.2017.00017/full
& a Related Lecture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtK0nfA5r50&t=1s
An essay from 2008, now freely available here – http://qds.revues.org/892
co-edited with Christian Borch
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 | https://www.palgrave.com/it/book/9781137384980
Download full book in pdf here : brighenti-2014-the-ambiguous-multiplicities
A seminar I’m delivering on March 21st at Public Sphere, Crowd Sentiments and the Brain. A Public Lecture Series at Copenhagen Business School organized by Christian Borch, Thomas Z. Ramsøy and Stefan Schwarzkopf.
I’ve been invited at a roundtable at Les Rencontres d’Averroès (Marseille), titled “Entre renaissance citoyenne et transparence politique. Révolution numérique ou contrôle des libertés ?” (19th Edition, La cité en danger? Dictature, transparence e démocratie)
The debate has also been recently broadcasted on the French National Radio, Franceculture :
Posted also on YouTube:
With Mariasole Ariot, I’m organising an independent reading seminar of Mille Plateaux / A Thousand Plateaus by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari.
+ info : http://www.professionaldreamers.net/?p=2754
Journal of Classical Sociology November 26, 2010 vol. 10 no. 4 291-314
A discussion of the works of Tarde, Canetti, and Deleuze reveals some common insights into a social epistemology that rejects both methodological individualism and methodological holism. In this respect, the debate on crowds in the last quarter of the nineteenth century is particularly interesting because it is the historical context within which the individualist and holist epistemologies took shape. Arguably, that debate is still rich and inspiring today insofar as it can be said to open the problem field of the relationship between the individual and the group in social thought and sociological theory. Despite several differences, Tarde, Canetti, and Deleuze converge on a concept that can be termed ‘multiplicity’. It includes phenomena like crowds and packs (or ‘sects’, in Tarde’s terminology) that are properly speaking neither subjects nor objects. The concept provides a prism that also has relevant consequences for an understanding of the processes of imitation and leadership.
here – published in Haggerty, Kevin D. and Minas Samatas (eds.) Surveillance and Democracy. London: Routledge, pp. 51-68