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Tarde, Canetti, and Deleuze on crowds and packs

Journal of Classical Sociology November 26, 2010 vol. 10 no. 4 291-314

http://jcs.sagepub.com/content/10/4/291

Abstract

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.

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New Media and the Prolongations of Urban Environments

Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies November 2010 16: 471-487, doi:10.1177/1354856510375528

http://con.sagepub.com/content/16/4/471

Abstract

The article addresses the relationships between new media and public urban environments. It advances an anti-reductionist argument, which seeks to understand the material and the immaterial as two irreducible yet intertwined layers or levels of the social sphere. In order to do so, the notion of prolongation is proposed. This notion, together with those of territory and visibility, is explicitly designed to escape both reductionist monism (material as immaterial or vice versa) and dualism (material versus immaterial). The hypothesis is that the environments created and edited by the new media can be conceptualized and studied as specific visibility regimes of urban territoriality. The use of the concepts of territory, prolongation, and visibility also leads to deexceptionalizing the new media, insofar as new media are explained as a specific techno-social configuration, determined by a pattern of the same analytical variables that are at stake in the social sphere at large.

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Periferie italiane

L’interesse per il tema delle periferie urbane – oggi variamente ribattezzate
«città abbandonata», «città negata», «città senza città», «quartieri sensibili» o altro – che è fiorito in anni recenti nella sociologia italiana può essere letto in modo ambivalente. Da un lato infatti esso corre dei rischi, dall’altro offre però delle importanti possibilità. I rischi sono legati al fatto che l’agenda degli interessi della ricerca sociale venga dettata dai mass media e dalle priorità di questi ultimi. Nel momento in cui i media sollevano a gran voce i temi della sicurezza urbana, agitano lo spettro dei quartieri-ghetto e dipingono le periferie come il ricettacolo di tutti i cancri sociali del paese, la ricerca sociale è in un certo senso forzata a correre a verificare, ma l’operazione corre sempre il rischio di finire per adottare e più o meno inconsciamente avallare e legittimare tutta una serie di retoriche e parole d’ordine di stampo politico-mediatico. Come cantava Battiato, non è facile restare calmi e indifferenti mentre tutti intorno fanno rumore. Dall’altro, in positivo, una serie di possibilità sono aperte da quelle ricerche, di cui vorrei parlare in questo breve testo, che hanno prodotto dei risultati interessanti e soprattutto hanno saputo difendere la specificità epistemica e, non da ultimo, la temporalità propria della ricerca sociale – una temporalità che per sua costituzione dovrebbe contrapporsi ai ritmi fibrillanti, ai riflessi condizionati del pensiero e alla mancanza di memoria a lungo termine che caratterizza i mass media.

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Una discussione sui seguenti libri:

Caritas Italiana – Mauro Magatti (a cura di), La città abbandonata: dove sono e come cambiano le periferie italiane, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2007.
Paola Briata, Massimo Bricocoli e Carla Tedesco, Città in periferia: politiche urbane e progetti locali in Francia, Gran Bretagna e Italia, Roma, Carocci, 2009.
Franco Ferrarotti e Maria I. Macioti, Periferie: da problema a risorsa, Roma, Teti, 2009.
Antida Gazzola, Intorno alla città: problemi delle periferie in Europa e in Italia, Napoli, Liguori, 2008.
Laura Bovone e Lucia Ruggerone (a cura di), Quartieri in bilico: periferie
milanesi a confronto, Milano, Mondadori, 2009.

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Lines, barred lines. Movement, territory and the law

International Journal of Law in Context, 6,3 pp. 217–227 (2010) Cambridge University Press

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=7878758&fulltextType=RA&fileId=S1744552310000121

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In this paper an attempt is made to analyse the complex relationship between law, territory and movement. Beginning with a quick overview of the notion of property, the paper suggests that this legal notion represents a way of imagining the practice of inhabiting the planet. Dwelling and travelling are explored as two alternative and complementary ways of inhabiting, and a closer inspection is paid to the moments when they confront each other both ideologically and practically. A territorial question is identified at the core of law, namely the issue of the movement of bodies in space (or motility), together with the control of such movements. From this perspective, movement is not simply one among the many objects over which law exerts control, rather law itself is a territorial endeavour, a movement that acts upon other movements.

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At the Wall: Graffiti Writers, Urban Territoriality, and the Public Domain

Space and Culture, Vol. 13(3): 315-332, July 2010

http://sac.sagepub.com/content/13/3/315

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The article is based on an ethnographic observation of a crew of graffiti writers in the northeast of Italy. Extending some considerations emerging from the case study, the article advances a reflection on the territorial dimension of graffiti writing in urban environments and the relationship between walls, social relationships and the public domain. This task entails understanding walls as artefacts that are subject to both strategic and tactical uses, as well as the relationship between walls and the public domain as a territorial configuration. In particular, graffiti writing is observed as an interstitial practice that creates its own specific way of using walls: it is a “longitudinal” rather than a “perpendicular” style, which transform the wall into a fragment of a “prolongable” series, a part of a continuing conversation.

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Artveillance: At the Crossroads of Art and Surveillance

436

Surveillance & Society, Vol 7, No 2 (2010)

http://library.queensu.ca/ojs/index.php/surveillance-and-society/article/view/artveillance

PDF version here

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In this article I review a series of artworks, artistic performances and installations that deal with the topic of surveillance. My aim is twofold. On the one hand, I want to look comparatively at how different artists interrogate, question, quote, or criticize surveillance society. On the other hand, I take these artistic actions as themselves symptomatic of the ways in which surveillance interrogates contemporary society. In other words, my claim is that surveillance does not simply produce substantive social control and social triage, it also contributes to the formation of an ideoscape and a collective imagery about what security, insecurity, and control are ultimately about, as well as the landscape of moods a surveillance society like ours expresses.

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On Territorology. Towards a General Science of Territory

Theory, Culture & Society, Vol. 27(1): 52–72, March 2010

http://tcs.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/27/1/52

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The development of territorology requires the overcoming of the dichotomy
between determinist and constructivist approaches, in order to advance
towards a general science of territory and territorial phenomena. Insights
for this task can come from at least four main threads of research: biology,
zooethology and human ethology; human ecology, social psychology and
interactionism; human, political and legal geography; and philosophy. In
light of the insights derived from these traditions, the article aims to conceptualize
territorial components, technologies, movements, effects, and their
interplay, in order to establish the main lines of inquiry for territorology. A
general territorology, it is argued, amounts to a sociology of territorial acts
and relations, whose aim is to analyze the expressive and functional components
of territories, as fixed through their organizational and technological
devices.

pdf version

SORVEGLIANZA E TEORIA SOCIALE

La sorveglianza può essere definita sinteticamente come l’attività
che consiste nel tenere sotto osservazione un insieme di
soggetti o una popolazione attraverso un’attenzione focalizzata
su corpi, dati e dettagli personali, che vengono sistematicamente
monitorati, registrati, controllati, archiviati, consultati e confrontati
(Lyon 2002; 2007). Tale attività può essere condotta in
una molteplicità di luoghi sociali da organizzazioni di tipo
molto diverso (militari, di polizia, di intelligence, mediche, commerciali)
e per finalità altrettanto diverse (controllo dei propri
impiegati, controllo dei “clienti” – in senso ampio, tale che ad
esempio i devianti possono essere considerati come clienti delle
agenzie di controllo sociale).
In questo capitolo si vuole mostrare come tutti i processi di
sorveglianza possano essere concettualizzati quali forme di
manipolazione delle visibilità di attori e situazioni sociali. Tale
affermazione, occorre subito aggiungere, è valida solo se con
il termine di visibilità si intende un fenomeno definito non
solamente dalla dimensione visiva o visuale, bensì da un più
generale ambito di distribuzione selettiva delle attenzioni e
delle rilevanze all’interno di un campo sociale. In altri termini,
la visibilità può costituire un’importante categoria analitica nell’interpretazione
dei processi di sorveglianza, ma tale categoria
necessita anzitutto di essere articolata in modo accurato.

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Visual, Visible, Ethnographic

The paper explores visibility as a category to describe certain characteristics of the social that can be observed by ethnographers. The field of visibility spans the most immediate interactions that take place in a situated context and mediated social relations. Visibility offers a useful comparative tool to research because very different practices can be compared as specific configurations or regimes of visibility. The effects of visibility are contingent upon the type of regime, as the cases of recognition, control, and spectacle illustrate. The paper does not seek to propose visibility as a catch-all term; rather, it suggests that ethnographic research is inevitably concerned with how features of visibility are employed by actors to introduce thresholds of relevance in the definition of relational territories. In its attempt to understand the constitution of social territories as ‘locales’, ethnography cross-cuts the distinction between the how and the why of observed phenomena.

PDF Version

DID WE REALLY GET RID OF COMMANDS? THOUGHTS ON A THEME FROM ELIAS CANETTI

Neither in contemporary sociology nor in legal theory is much
attention paid to the theoretical object of commands. This paper explores some
features of commands that tend to remain largely invisible in social action, as well as
largely under-theorized in the scholarly literature. The analysis draws on early
reflection by Elias Canetti and tries to clarify the dynamics of the relationship between
law and commands from a sociological perspective. The main claim is that
command cannot be reduced to a linguistic entity, but has to be considered in the
more complex frame of a direct relationship among subjects and their bodies within a
shared space. Explanation of commands is made even more difficult by the fact that
they take place in a space that is located ambiguously in between the realm of the
subjective and that of the objective, in between passions and institutions.

http://booksc.org/dl/8017464/4099cb