Friday, November 27, 2009

State of the Industry conference - Genevieve Bell presentation

Second presentation from from the State of the Industry conference at the University of NSW, hosted by the Cultural Research Network is from Genevieve Bell, who heads the first social science oriented reserach team at Intel, the User Experience group in the Intel Home Group. She was also identified as one of the 50 Most Creative People by Fast Company in 2009, as well as an Adelaide Thinker in Residence for the South Australian government.

Genevieve Bell

  • PhD in anthropology at Stanford University after a very diverse and eclectic childhood and upbringing - has struggled to "fit" with either the university or the industry environment;
  • Was going to take up an academic post, but was in Palo Alto in 1998 and was offered a job (again, in interesting circumstances) at Intel;
(Hope this is podcast, as its a great talk, in ways that can't quite be captured in a blog).

  • Challenge between the very predictable path of academic tenure track employment and jobs that are not defined at Intel;
  • She was hired out of the "irrational exuberance" at Intel in 1998, and being "the only woman who didn't cry" at the day-long interview;
  • Job was to be in charge of "women" and "Rest of the World";
  • Working with people from maths, sciences and IT backgrounds from an arts/humanities background requires disrupting dominant logics within Intel (e.g. everyone wants to be American), but they often relapse (graphic of three generations of white people watching TV together);
  • How to mobilise stories about the "messiness of everyday life" to talk back to dominant understandings within Intel - this generates sharp debates, and forces a willingness to stand up for what you know in the face or arguments and scepticism;
Research Questions
  1. There is no single trajectory through which technologies are adopted or no single pathway for the Internet - the "feral Internet", which is a very Australian interpretative concept (Internet as undomesticated, like feral animals in the Australian desert);
  2. How technologists imagine technologies as being perceived? How to unpack underlying notions of the body, space etc., but privacy is becoming less of a core concern than what can be called reputation - telling other people about every aspect of your identity. Contrast between "messiness' of identities and desire for seamless personas among technology developers - image, authenticity, reputation more than trust, risk;
  3. Concerns for policing behaviour: what it is devices want and what people need? Devices that work better when "always connected" versus desire of people for discrete moments of engagement/non-engagement;
  4. How people talk about their lives as technologically engaged citizens? What are the "overheads" of everyday life in a technological age, and how do people struggle to deal with them? Don't map easily onto existing sociological categories (age, gender etc.) or life stages.;
  5. Contributing theory in unexpected places. All kinds of people can do good fieldwork, but the caapcity to make sense of it requires exposure to a rich array of theoretical resources. Sometimes theory is taught to Intel engineers e.g Adrienne Rich on "compulsory heterosexuality" and why engineers should know about this. What seems to be "internal tools in the academy" can be used outside of the academy e.g. Foucault on bodies and power.
There are a lot of people doing work of this nature in various areas of high-tech industry, who are using the intellectual tools learned in the humanities academy for other purposes.

  1. Increasingly complex trajectories for cultural researchers, and thinking about how people with PhDs may move in and out of industry, academy etc. Also how to see work done outside of the academy as rigorous, engaged etc. There are a lot of lacunae in the higher education sector about this, especially in the US academy. Australia can avoid this. They recruit people who do not come out of the Intel industry template model, but you need to know how to talk with them without thinking you have to sacrifice your theoretical training - not "dumbing down" training, but expanding horizons and career possibilities;
  2. Finding the questions and asking them, and new jobs to be created. Development of a National Broadband Network in Australia will require cultural knowledge that Australia is not good at developing, as well as engineering knowledge which it is good at - how to you concretise the "digital economy" into everyday life? How to get beyond "putting the 'e' in front of everything" to the more complex questions of socio-technical questiosn of citizenship, identity, inclusion etc. The critique from within the academy is important, but so too is the scope to insert ourselves and our own positions into the government agencies, consultancies, companies etc. that are actively engaged in these decisions?
  3. How can Australian cultural reserachers be global drivers of theory and analysis of the changing socio-cultural environment? Australia can be an incubator of new ideas, that can then be "talked back" to the rest of the world.

State of the Industry Conference - Graeme Turner presentation

Live blogging from the State of the Industry conference at the University of NSW, hosted by the Cultural Research Network.

Professor Graeme Turner, Convenor, Australian Research Council Cultural Research Network, and University of Queensland

  • Problem of how to replenish the academic labour market as up to 50% of "baby boomer" academics retire over the next decade;
  • The market will be increasingly internationally competitive - arts & humanities generate a lot of PhDs, but there are slower completion rates, higher attrition rates and more discontent with casualisation of work than in other Faculties/disciplines/sectors;
  • This will be approached as "the university's problem" but it is increasingly one for government;
  • The myth of "lots of jobs in the near future" has been around "since Graeme was 25" - beware of that mantra, although it may be more true this time.
Issues that need addressing and their attendant causes:

  1. Perpetuation of casual/sessional appointments - originally designed to eliminate "exploitative" contract employment, but is itslef more exploitative;
  2. Collapse of discipline-based departments;
  3. Exploitative behaviour by unviersities and departments and resultant loss of trust;
  4. Low level of PhD stipends and effects on personal living conditions esp. for those with families;
  5. The end of the Masters degree as a PhD training ground - requires too much to be done with inexperienced PhD candidates;
  6. Anti-intellectualism in Australia and disapraging of people in universities;
  7. Increasing vocationalisation of universities, and use of "interdiscplinarity" to develop economies of scale by forcing disciplines together;
  8. Marketisation of univerisites and short-term responses to shifts that see wholesale disappearance of disciplines and departmentsesp. outside of metro universities and G8 universities (seen in ERA exercise, soon to be public);
  9. Poor advice from research offices and other entites trying to "second guess" where the funding will be e.g. whole Faculties being told to submit ARC grants.
Such factors influenced the decision to set up the CRN. Aims were to:
  • link up senior reserachers with PhDs and ECRs;
  • enable grassroots development of research ideas;
  • build collaborations across disciplines and build multidisciplinary teams;
  • address problems associated with professional development and lack of institutional mentoring for ECRs;
  • liberate researchers from constraints of their particular institutions and departments by linking up to a wider communtiy of scholars.
Issue of how not simply to draw attention to constraints but build capacity for collective agency c.f. presentations by Simon Marginson and Staurt Cunningham on Day One of State of the Industry conference.

Whta are the consequences of loss of capacity in the humanities generally over the last 15 years and the unevenness of critical strength across the sector? Capacity was largely built in the sciences, particularly during the Howard years.

Ongoing arguments about how to get government to take our claims seriously. Poor results in first round of Future Fellowships an illustration of the problems arising. Can become a "vicious cycle" since governments respond to evidence of results rather than special pleading for more cash.

Maintain a focus on the quality of your work, and not on short-term exigencies of research offices e.g. first-tier journals after ERA.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Cultural Economy Moment now in Cultural Science

My paper "The Cultural Economy Moment?", first presented as a keynote at Murdoch University in Perth, is now accessible from the online journal Cultural Science. Thanks to John Hartley, Eli Koger and anonymous referees for feedback on this.

The full paper can be accessed here. The abstract is below:

This paper explores the rise of cultural economy as a key organising concept over the 2000s. While it has intellectual precursors in political economy, sociology and postmodernism, it has been work undertaken in the fields of cultural economic geography, creative industries, the culture of service industries and cultural policy where it has come to the forefront, particularly around whether we are now in a ‘creative economy’. While work undertaken in cultural studies has contributed to these developments, the development of neo-liberalism as a meta-concept in critical theory constitutes a substantive barrier to more sustained engagement between cultural studies and economics, as it rests upon a caricature of economic discourse. The paper draws upon Michel Foucault’s lectures on neo-liberalism to indicate that there are significant problems with the neo-Marxist account hat became hegemonic over the 2000s. The paper concludes by identifying areas such as the value of information, the value of networks, motivations for participation in online social networks, and the impact of business cycles on cultural sectors as areas of potentially fruitful inter-disciplinary engagement around the nature of cultural economy.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Creative Suburban Geographies

The Creative Suburban Geographies event was hosted by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation last Thursday (12 November, 2009), and I am pleased to say that the Powerpoint presentations from Alan Davies, Christy Collis and Emma Felton, and Simon Freebody are now available on Slideshare. We will have podcasts available shortly. Thanks to Rebekah Denning, Eli Koger, Courtney O'Connor and Colleen Cook for egetting this together.

I've provided my introductory talk to the session below. Again, a podcast will be available shortly.

Creative Suburban Geographies

Professor Terry Flew, Creative Industries Faculty, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia

Introductory presentation to Creative Suburban Geographies: Rethinking the Cultural Geography of Creativity and Creative Cities, ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation workshop, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia, 12 November 2009.

Today’s event brings together papers and presentations that draw upon the themes of creative cities and creative suburbs, and whether the creative industries develop primarily in one type of urban zone over another. In particular, we are seeking to open up a discussion on whether thinking about creative industries in Australia needs to give more attention to Australia’s outer suburban regions, and what might be the implications of doing so.

Creative industries emerged on the horizon in the late 1990s and early 2000s with an implicitly urban cultural and economic geography. Creative industries were seen as something that were most strongly developed in cities, and particularly in the densely populated inner city areas. In the language of the time, creative industries developed in the parts of creative cities that were attractive to the creative class, who in turn would form creative clusters that would incubate new forms of creative enterprise.

As creative industries were presented as a people-driven, bottom-up alternative to top-down cultural policies driven by nation-states and government arts agencies, this raised the question of how did people form communities, and act collectively to achieve certain types of outcomes? There was a rapid growth of interest in how networks were formed, as a category between that of bureaucratic hierarchies and impersonal markets, and with this was a surge of interest in notions of community, situated knowledge and what Ash Amin and Joanne Roberts have referred to as “organizing for creativity”. 1

The most visible representative of all of this has been the writer Richard Florida, who has given us the term “creative class” and linked growth in the 21st century global economy fundamentally to the attributes of this group and the forms of cultural amenity that they seek from cities. Florida’s work is widely critiqued around the statistics used to measure a creative class and its rise and rise, which can easily sound like most people with a tertiary qualification, but there is no doubt that he has given us a highly influential image of what the 21st century creative worker looks like. Possibly tattooed and lycra-clad, she/he cycles off to new projects, incubating and generating ideas by day and trying out new cultural scenes, small bars or designer drugs by night, keeping a dense network of loose ties, but never becoming too fixed to any one job, place, scene, relationship or set of ideas.

Caricatures aside, Florida’s work draws upon a recognisable and longstanding history of thinking about the modern city. Sometimes termed the “new urbanism”, it draws upon the highly influential visions of cities and their social and cultural role developed by authors such as Lewis Mumford and Jane Jacobs. Recalling how central debates about whether the move from the countryside to cities was so central to modern sociology (e.g. Ferdinant Tonnies on gemeinschaft and gesellschaft, Georg Simmel), authors such as Jacobs and Mumford stressed the social and cultural value of cities in the outcomes that arise from proximity, diversity and sociality. The more that people are forced to mix with others who are in some way different to themselves, and the more that the city provides “third spaces” for social interaction outside of work and home, the more dynamic cities will be, and the more conducive they will be to creativity.

Jacobs and Mumford wrote about cities when the issues were not only migration from the countryside, or migration from other parts of the world, but the movement to suburbs. Suburbanisation was a trend of the early 20th century, and accelerated in the period after the Second World War. In his book Suburban Century, which traces 20th century suburbanization and debates about its impact in the United States and England, Clapson identifies Mumford as an exemplary anti-suburbanite:

In the mass movement into suburban areas a new kind of community was produced, [a] multitude of uniform, unidentifiable houses, lined up inflexibly, at uniform distances, on uniform roads, in a treeless communal waste, inhabited by people of the same class, the same age group, witnessing the same television performances, eating the same tasteless prefabricated foods, from the same freezers, conforming in every outward and inward respect to a common mould, manufactured in the central metropolis. Thus the ultimate effect of the suburban escape in our time is, ironically, a low-grade uniform environment from which escape is impossible.2

So anti-suburbanism has a long lineage, and when columnists such as The Age’s Catherine Deveny attack the Chadstone Shopping Centre as ‘soul-destroying cathedral to emptiness’, and those who go there as ‘dead-eyed wage slaves attracted to this cynical, hermetically sealed weatherless biosphere by the promise a new phone will fix their punctured soul’, it follows a longer and more intellectually respectable tradition.

But we are reminded in Australia that so much that is seen as our contributions to global culture has suburban roots. Australia’s most famous bands, such as AC/DC, INXS and Midnight Oil, came out of a pub-rock culture that was deeply suburban. Our major television exports, Neighbours and Home and Away present images of suburban life that have had international appeal. Kylie Minogue’s trajectory from a mechanic on Neighbours to a global pop princess is a suburban one. From Barry Humphries and the character of Dame Edna Everage, the housewife superstar from Moonee Ponds, to Kath and Kim, the foxy morns of Fountain Gate, Australian humour has drawn from what Humphries termed “the vast suburban tundra”.3 Even Australian cultural studies has a suburban inflection. To take three early landmark works, Meaghan Morris’s “Things to Do With Shopping Cetnres”, Myths of Oz by John Fiske, Bob Hodge and Graeme Turner, and John Hartley’s Tele-ology: Studies in Television, are all dealing at some level with Australian suburban culture.

So suburbanism and anti-suburbanism have sat cheek by jowl in Australia. The historical Graeme Davison suggests that it may have ever been thus. He notes that when Governor Arthur Philip was preparing the first town plan for Sydney in 1789, he instructed that streets be laid out:

… in such a manner as to afford free circulation of air, and when the houses are built … the land will be granted with a clause that will prevent more than one house being built on the allotment, which will be sixty feet in front and one hundred and fifty feet in depth. 4
While Governor Philip never used the words “quarter acre suburban block”, he was nonetheless planning for an urban environment where, as Dame Edna would taunt Michael Parkinson on British television 210 years later, ‘In Australia, our houses aren't all joined together like yours to stop them from falling over’. Davison argues that suburbanization has always found a rich response in early Australian history as ‘Australia may be thought of as the farthest suburb of Britain and ambitions for land, space and independence, frustrated in the crowded cities of the homeland, were often realized on the suburban frontiers of Australia’.5 In contemporary multicultural Australia, the aspiration to a detached suburban dwelling across ethnic groups and class divides remains. To take one example, Terence Lee from Murdoch University has discussed the appeal of Perth to Singaporeans, to the point where the term ‘Singaperth” is used in the Straits Times, in terms of the desire to have the sorts of housing that is simply not available on a small and densely populated island, and where ‘Perth might be seen as a “new frontier” for these Singaporeans to strut their creative stuff’.

The Australian Research Council project that inspires today’s symposium has the title Creative Suburbia: A Critical Evaluation of the Opportunities and Scope for Creative Cultural Development in Australia’s Emergent Suburban Communities. The aims of the project have been to:

  1. Map and analyse the experience of the creative industries workforce in outer suburban areas, through grounded case studies in the Australian cities of Brisbane and Melbourne;
  2. Better understand creative enterprise work practices in Australia’s emergent suburban communities, and the role played by networks and dynamic clusters, through a mix of quantitative and qualitative research methodologies;
  3. Identify qualitative cultural factors affecting the employment and productivity of these workers, and the effectiveness of existing mechanisms of government and other forms of support;
  4. Address a potential gap in creative industries research and policy literature arising from a primary focus upon inner-urban areas as sites of creativity, drawing upon the techniques and methodologies of cultural studies and cultural geography.

In developing the project, we were very cognizant of the extensive creative industries mapping project that has been conducted through the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation, in the project involving Stuart Cunningham, Peter Higgs and Simon Freebody. There has also been a significant amount of research being undertaken in the field of urban infomatics, looking at how the increasing ubiquity of digital technology, internet services and location-aware applications in our everyday lives are changing both the visible and invisible infrastructure of cities, led by Marcus Foth, Greg Hearn and a large range of researchers across disciplines and Faculties. We are also pleased to have Alan Davies and Richard Brecknock with us today, who bring extensive understanding and experience of how such trends are developing in Australian cities and internationally, and who have been engaged with policy-makers at local and state government levels in shaping responses to these trends.

Before introducing the first speaker, I’ll conclude with two potential pitfalls that can arise in this area. The first is what I would call suburban realism. Suburban realism had something of a high water mark in Australia between the arrival of the MV Tampa in Australian waters in 2001 and the arrival of Work Choices legislation in Australian workplaces in 2006. It became very popular among conservative politicians in Australia, and was responded to by Labor in electing a leader in Mark Latham who was a self-described “suburban warrior”, and who will be the only Australian political leader to ever identify Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell as his all time favourite musical work.

It championed the folk wisdom of suburban Australia, a world of tradies, ute-men and hairdressers, over the “out of touch elites” of the inner city, the “latte set” who thought that republicanism, refugees and Australia’s cultural standing in the world were more important than Bunnings, Officeworks and plasma TVs from Harvey Norman. The Liberal former member for Lindsay, Jackie Kelly, captured suburban realism in her infamous statement that the people of her electorate in Western Sydney were not much interested in what happened at the university located in the region, as her electorate was “pram city”, where people were too busy having babies to worry much about higher education. If the stereotype of suburban Australia as brain dead bogans is not accurate, as the work in this project and elsewhere is finding, there is little point in inverting the stereotype and presenting a hitherto perceived lack as some form of vernacular cultural advantage.

The other potential pitfall is what can be termed suburban romanticism. The trope of ‘romancing the suburbs’ arguably goes back to colonial times in Australia and elsewhere, but it can acquire a new tenacity in the age of creative industries. Chris Gibson, Chris Brennan-Horley, Susan Luckman and Julie Willoughby-Smith found elements of this in their study of creative workforce in Darwin, where the ‘serenity’ of parts of the city could equate with having ‘spaces to think’ that were not possible in more concentrated urban zones.7 It is useful to challenge what is often the relentless urbanism of creative industries and creative cities discourse, not least because it frequently conflates attributes of place with consequences of positioning in global circuits of capital and culture, so that the “global city” status of places such as New York, Los Angeles and London is presented as a result of their people and communities rather than their place in the global economy.

But simply romanticizing the suburbs, no less than demonizing them, has the effect of constructing as homogeneous entities places that are highly diverse. This is one reason why the Creative Suburbia project has chosen a qualitative research methodology, as it allows for responses from those actively engaged in developing networks as creative workers in different Australian suburbs to present experiences, and to codify these in ways that don’t force the outcomes back into pre-existing categories. How to better balance positive and negative perceptions of Australian suburbia, and to challenge one-dimensional stereotypes without presenting a patchwork of ineffable and irreducible difference – these are challenges facing those engaged with researching the cultural economic geography of creative workers in Australian suburbs today.

1 Ash Amin and Joanne Roberts, ‘The Resurgence of Community in Economic Thought and Practice’, in A. Amin and J. Roberts (eds.), Community, Economic Creativity and Organization (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).
2 Lewis Mumford, The City in History, quoted in Mark Clapson, Suburban Century: Social Change and Urban Growth in England and the United States, Oxford: Berg, 2003, p. 5.
3 Sue Turnbull, “Mapping the Vast Suburban Tundra: From Dame Edna to Kath and Kim”, International Journal of Cultural Studies 11(1), 2008, pp. 15-32.
4 Governor Arthur Philip, Letter to Lord Sydney 1788, quoted in Graeme Davison, ‘The Past and Future of the Australian Suburb’, in L. C. Johnson (ed.), Suburban Dreaming: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Australian Cities, Geelong: Deakin University Press, 1985, p. 100.
5 Davison, ‘The Past and Future of the Australian Suburb’, p. 102.
7 Chris Brennan-Horley, Susan Luckman, Chris Gibson and Julie Willoughby-Smith, ‘GIS, Ethnography and Cultural Research: Putting Maps Back Into Ethnographic Mapping', The Information Society 26(2), 2010 (forthcoming).

Thursday, October 29, 2009

HASS on the Hill 2009 - Day 2

Day 2 of HASS on the Hill, being written a day after due to late flights and lots of October 30 deadlines around the place.

Going to New Parliament House (using that term because we had dinner the previous night in the Old Parliament House) is a lot of fun. This is the political class in its natural habitat, and the designers of the building created a cavernous space with lots of nooks and hiding places which seem to facilitate plotting. The famous cafe Ossie's also facilitates arriving early and staying late, with its collection of breakfast cereals, wines, toilet paper, noodle packets, condoms and so on alongside the standard cafe fare. A chance meeting there with Rhys Muldoon revealed many fascinting stories about the political world and the arts world in particular (no spoiler alert here).

The main event for me was meeting Senator Mitch Fifield. Mitch is a Liberal Senator from Victoria, and was a Senior Political Advisor to former Treasurer Peter Costello prior to entering the Senate in 2004.

From Mitch's well designed web site, I gauged that an area of potentially fruitful discussion could arise from his being a patron of The Song Room, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to providing music education opportunities for children in disadvantaged schools. We were also both at the University of Sydney in the 1980s, so there were some common touch points, ranging from smuggling items into the Fisher Library stack, to students form the era now in the Federal Parliament, including Anthony Albanese, Joe Hockey, Greg Combet, Belinda Neal and (after the Bradfiled by-election, barring a big surprise) Paul Fletcher.

[The road not taken here involves Mitch also being a vocal campaigner for Voluntary Student Unionism. While I have been around universities enough to have seen some truly daft things happen in student unions, withdrawal of the funding that came from student union fees has left a funding hole on campuses that has proved difficult to fill. At any rate, it can be noted that perhaps the daftest thing ever done by a student union was by Liberal Students at the University of New England, in their creation of a position of Heterosexuality Officer.]

Anyway, the meeting was off to a good start. I noted that I wasn't asking for support for any paticular project, which met the affiring respomse from Senator Fifield that being in the Opposition, he couldn't give me anything anyway, so just go ahead and ask. I was also struck by the fact that, just as I had Googled him prior to the metting, he had similarly Googled me, and fould this very blog.

My points from the meeting were:
  1. The National Library of Australia's digitising newspapers initiative is something well worth supporting, not least because it may mean that Sydney Uni. students spend less time in the Fisher Library stack;
  2. 50% of Australian universities' funding coming from non-government sources (discussed yesterday) of which the largest is student fee income, has had a distorting effect on what happens in the sector that is a problem for developing strength in the arts, humanities and social sciences;
  3. A case can be made, and I sought to make it, for a national audit of Media and Communications courses around Australia (including areas such as journalism and public relations as well as areas of multimedia design) to see if they are still growing, and how they are responding to a plethora of industry and technological changes, as well as their general balancing of vocational skills orientation and contextual material.
In realtion to the last point, the last major study in this area was the report prepared by Peter Putnis and his team at the University of Canberra, which was recognised internationally as a landmark study. The time may well have arrived for an equivalent new study, and CHASS may be the entity through which this can be pursued in conjunction with ANZCA.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

HASS on the Hill 2009 - Day 1

Being late October, it is time for HASS on the Hill, which I am attending as ANZCA President.

My trip to Canberra turned out to be more eventful than expected for three reasons. First, I discovered the night before that in the course of changing the timing of my return flight to allow for my meeting with Senator Mitch Fifield at 4pm on Wednesday, someone (ether QANTAS or my travel agent) managed to eliminate my flight to Canberra altogther, so I had to make a hurried ticket purchase on my own credit card on Sunday night.

Second, on my revised flight – later than was originally planned – I found myself sitting next to the Independent MP for Kennedy in Far Far North Qld, Bob Katter. Bob wore the most impressive hat onto the plane, an R. M .Williams cowboy number. Finally, leaving Brisbane where the current temperature range is 21-32 degrees Celcius, and the tracksuits are well and truly packed away, I forgot that it is still cold in Canberra, making for a challenging night of rugging up. Still, it could have been worse, as I met people who took the later flight out of Brisbane, only to find themselves stuck at the airport for 3 ½ hours due to the storm.

HASS stands for Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, and HASS on the Hill is an annual event held by the Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (CHASS). A lot of acronyms here, but the aim of CHASS – founded in 2004 – is to “promote and provide advocacy for the humanities, arts and social sciences and to serve as a coordinating forum for academics, students, business, practitioners and the broader community”.

CHASS aims to build recognition, profile and influence for the humanities, arts and social sciences akin to the influence acquired by the science and technology sectors, with the specific aims of:

  • Promoting the work of the sectors to government, industry and the public
  • Advocating for policy reform and resources to allow Australia to further develop and use the knowledge and skills it has developed in the humanities, the arts and the social sciences.
  • Providing a coordinating forum for discussion in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences sectors in Australia
  • Creating networks linking experts and researchers in the sector with industry, policy makers and media
  • Building the innovative capacity of Australia through better linkages between these sectors, and science, technology, engineering and medicine
  • Supporting members by building an effective and well-resourced organisation able to provide policy briefing, advocacy and communications advice, and leadership in promoting the sector.

From the first session, which provided an overview of making the case for the value of the HASS sector, two points caught my attention. The first was from Professor Stuart MacIntyre, President of the Academy of the Social Sciences, that higher education in Australia accounts for 1.6% of GDP, of which 0.8% is contributed by private sources, primarily domestic and international fee-paying students. The private contribution ratio is second highest in the world after the United States, but the public contribution in the U.S. is considerably larger. This is another way of saying that Australia has one of the most market-driven higher education sectors in the world, and one of the lowest proportionate contributions of government to higher education funding.

The other point was from Jan Fullerton, Director-General of the National Library of Australia, and her description of the NLA’s process of digitizing Australia’s newspapers. As of June 2009, 4.3 million articles are now available and full-text searchable, with 1.95 million pages scanned from microfiche, and now available through the Google news Archive service. Following the Web 2.0 principle, participants are encouraged to scan, correct and tag text, and users have corrected over 3.4 million lines of electronic text in over 150,000 articles, while adding 70,000 tags to articles and including comment and further information about articles. The plan is to have 40 million searchable articles by 2010, and you can put a link to Australian Newspapers beta from your own website:

Then it was off to lunch at the National Press Club to hear Peter Garrett on a national cultural policy. Underwhelming is the term that stays with me. The National Press Club is an underwhelming venue, with its mix of leathery steaks, bad red wine, and rules that only the journalists can ask questions even if they – by their own admission – know nothing about the topic. And when did the guy from (he kept adding the domain name in his questions) become such an authority on the arts that he gets to ask two questions about Australia’s future population! Future historians and archaeologists may well draw a link between the general dodginess of the National Press Club and the poor quality of Australian newspaper commentary.

The last time I saw Peter Garrett on a stage, it was 1982 at the Royal Antler Hotel in Narrabeen, at a Midnight Oils show. After hearing a decidedly underwhelming presentation on an Australian national cultural policy here, I was certainly a bit nostalgic for the old days. There are certainly a series of old debates about a cultural policy that invariably generate what Peter would call “deep thinking” and a “fair dinkum exchange of views”. What I found most odd was how readily Peter Garrett accepted the formula the arts = culture = flagship companies and big festivals. Its not odd because it’s a view – not everyone subscribes to a cultural studies zeitgeist – but because its coming from someone who has had such an impact on Australian national culture from completely outside of that institutional terrain. It feels like a determined disavowal of his old tribe of the live musicians.

Afternoon involved a debrief on how to deal with an MP or a Senator, with six presenters doing their pitch to a panel in an event described by one panelist as “Australian Idol for smart people”. It was pretty engaging and quite a lot of fun, even as we all wondered who is meeting with Wilson Tuckey MP tomorrow.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics - Chapter Twelve

• ‘Homo economicus strips the sovereign of power inasmuch as he reveals an essential, fundamental and major incapacity of the sovereign, that is to say, an inability to master the totality of the economic field. The sovereign cannot fail to be blind vis-à-vis the economic domain or field as a whole. The whole set of economic processes cannot fail to elude a would-be central, totalizing, bird’s-eye-view’ (p. 292).

• Possible solutions were : (1) to demarcate market and non-market spaces, and enable political power to be exercised in non-market domains; and (2) to cede control over economic processes but develop superior maps of the economic process (Physiocrats) – ‘in the Physiocrats’ perspective the sovereign will have to pass from political activity to theoretical passivity in relation to the economic process’ (p. 293)

• As neither of these options are satisfactory, “governmentable” subjects are developed through a new domain or field of reference for the art of governing, which is civil society

• The question of civil society is one of ‘how to govern, according to the rules of right, a space of sovereignty which for good or ill is inhabited by economic subjects?’ – ‘The problem of civil society is the juridical structure (economie juridique) of a governmentality pegged to the economic structure (economie economique)’ (p. 296)

• Civil society as a governmental technology: ‘An omnipresent government, a government which nothing escapes, a government which conforms to the rules of right, and a government which nonetheless respects the specificity of the economy, will be a government that manages civil society, the nation, society, the social’ (p. 296).

• Civil society is not a ‘primary reality’, but rather a ‘transactional reality’, like madness or sexuality – ‘an element of transactional reality in the history of governmental technologies’ that correlates to liberalism as ‘a technology of government whose objective is its own self-limitation insofar as it is pegged to the specificity of economic processes’ (p. 297)

• From the mid C18th, and particularly with Adam Ferguson’s History of Civil Society (published at roughly the same time as The Wealth of Nations), civil society appears as:
1. A historical-natural constant beyond which nothing can be found;
2. The spontaneous synthesis of individuals – the social bond which requires no contract non-egoist interests represented in civil society, which is nonetheless territorially bounded in ways that the market is not;
3. A permanent matrix of political power, that is spontaneously formed rather than being the expression of a social contract between governors and governed – ‘in civil society the groups; decision appears to be the decision of the whole group, but when we look more closely at how this takes place we see that the decisions were taken, as [Ferguson] says, “in more select parties”;
4. A motor of history, in so far as it presents the possibility of a stable equilibrium between market society/homo economicus and that which is outside of it (benevolence, community, consent) – developments in economic society and civil society must bear a relationship to one another, as expressed through government and law – civil society can therefore never be static

• The German tradition of counterposing the state and civil society is contrasted to the English tradition of conceiving of civil society within problematics of government – ‘Does civil society really need a government?’ (Thomas Paine) (p. 310)

• The recentring of government associated with liberalism is the shift from government based upon the wisdom of the sovereign (raison d’Etat), to government based upon rationality and calculation. Rationality as a governmental technology is limited, however, by both the invisibility of economic processes and the autonomy of economic subjects. The concept of homo economicus exists less as an attempt to describe human behaviour than as a means of pegging a rationality to subjects that makes them amenable to governmental actions that act as changes to the external environment.

• The different governmental rationalities that have overlapped and competed since the 19th century have been government according to truth (Marxism as government according to the truth of history), art of government according to reason/rationality of the sovereign state, and art of government according to the rationality of economic agents.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics - Chapter Eleven

• The problem of homo economicus and its applicability to domains that are not immediately and directly economic (crime, marriage, child rearing etc.) is interesting as it posits a notion of the “rational subject” that bears no relationship to the work done in the social sciences on how individuals respond to behavioural stimuli, but it also presents homo economicus not as someone who should be left alone (as in the theory of laissez faire), but rather as ‘the person who accepts reality or who responds systematically to modifications in the variables of the environment … as someone manageable … someone who is eminently governable. Far from being the intangible partner of laissez faire, homo economicus now becomes the correlate of a governmentality which will act on the environment and systematically modify its variables’ (pp. 2070-271).

• There is in fact no theory of homo economicus, but it draws upon a notion of the subject that begins to appear in C17th English empiricist philosophy as ‘a subject of individual choices which are both irreducible and non-transferable’ (p. 272). The legal subject of contract is understood as a ‘subject of interest’ in this sense, who ‘has become calculating, rationalized’ (p. 273). The ‘subject of interest’ overflows the ‘subject of right’ – juridical will cannot take over from interest – and the subject of interest is not governed by the principle of rights, but is assumed to be an egoistic subject – ‘The market and the contract function in exactly opposite ways and we in fact have two heterogeneous structures’ (p. 276)

• ‘The situation of homo economicus could therefore be described as doubly involuntary, with regard to the accidents which happen to him and with regard to the benefit he unintentionally produces for others’ (p. 277) – Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ – uncertainty about outcomes is an absolute condition for the effective functioning of such a system – ‘The collective good must not be an objective. It must not be an objective because it cannot be calculated, at least, not within an economic strategy. Here we are at the heart of a principle of invisibility.’ (p. 279) – the invisibility is as important as the ‘hand’ – ‘Invisibility is absolutely indispensable. It is an invisibility which means that no economic agent should or can pursue the collective good’ (p. 280).

• The economy must also be obscure to political power, not only in the importance of leaving people alone to pursue self-interest, but also ‘it is impossible for the sovereign to have a point of view on the economic mechanism which totalizes every element and enables them to be combined artificially or voluntarily. The invisible hand which spontaneously combines interests also prohibits any form of intervention and, even better, any form of overarching gaze which would enable the economic process to be totalized’ (p. 280).

• ‘Liberalism acquired its modern shape precisely with the formulation of this essential incompatibility between the non-totalizable multiplicity of economic subjects of interest and the totalizing unity of the juridical sovereign’ (p. 282).

• The C18th saw liberalism form itself in opposition to raison d’Etat and the idea of the sovereign that was both a sovereign of right and an administrative sovereign, capable of delivering good government on the basis of superior knowledge. Economic liberalism emerges in opposition to the Physiocrats and the Economic Table, as part of a more general project of ‘disqualification of a political reason indexed to the state and its sovereignty’ (p. 284)

• After Adam Smith ‘Political economy is indeed a science, a type of knowledge (savoir), a mode of knowledge (connaissance) which those who govern must take into account. But economic science cannot be the science of government and economics cannot be the internal principle, law, rule of conduct, or rationality of government. Economics is a science lateral to the art of governing. One must govern with economics, one must govern alongside economics, one must govern by listening to the economists, but economics must not be and there is no question that it can be the governmental rationality itself’ (p. 286).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics - Chapter Ten

• Paradoxes of German neoliberalism (Ordoliberalism):
o How to maintain “light” regulation that dies not act directly upon the market but only in favour of promoting the economic process?
o How to address the tension inherent in generalizing the enterprise form to balance the promotion of “warm” moral and cultural values with the “cold” mechanisms of competition?

• ‘The return to the enterprise is therefore at once an economic policy or a policy of the economisation of the entire social field, of an extension of the economy to the entire social field, but at the same time a policy which presents itself or seeks to e a kind of Vitalpolitik with the function of compensating for what is cold, impassive, calculating, rational, and mechanical in the strictly economic game of competition. The enterprise society imagined by the ordoliberals is therefore a society for the market and a society against the market, a society oriented towards the market and a society that compensates for the effects of the market in the realms of values and existence.’ (p. 242)

• American neo-liberalism is more radical than German ordoliberalism in that it involves ‘the generalization of the economic form of the market … throughout the social body and including the whole of the social system not usually conducted through or sanctioned by monetary exchanges’ (p. 243)

• The generalization of the economic form of the market beyond the realm of monetary exchanges functions as a ‘principle of intelligibility and a principle of decipherment of social relationships and individual behaviour’ for American neo-liberalism (p. 243) – examples include thinking about child-rearing in terms of human capital, and marriage in terms of a contract to manage transaction costs

• The second major use of the economic form in American neo-liberalism is to subject government action to endless scrutiny of costs and benefits ‘a permanent criticism of governmental policy’ based upon “economic positivism”, and pursued by institutions such as the American Enterprise Institute, whose history actually precedes the Chicago School (p. 247)

• This analysis of non-economic behaviour through a grid of economic intelligibility and the critique of public authorities in market terms can be seen in the account developed of crime and criminal justice by Gary Becker, George Stigler and others. They develop a transaction cost account of crime and punishment where it is the ratio of costs and benefits from the point of view of both the individual and the society that serve as the anchor-points for appraising the penal justice system, as distinct from the ‘anthropology of crime’ that has been developing since the 19th century, with its focus upon the criminal subject and his/her social environment – homo economicus as compared to homo criminalis. While this appears trite and banal (‘a crime is that for which a punishment exists if one is caught’), it reverts back to earlier conceptions of the management of penal justice by classical liberals such as Bentham and Beccaria.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What is Content Co-creation?

Fascinating paper by Michel Bauwens from the Foundation fro Peer-to-Peer Alternatives and Institute for Distributed Creativity, published in the Fibreculture journal, on the layers of content co-creation:

Albert Boswijk, of the Amsterdam-based Center for the Experience Economy, asked me a set of interesting questions:

What is the reality behind so called best practice co-creation concepts? Are these lipservice to co-creative approaches? Are you really in the driver's seat or are you just being made to believe that you have influence on the outcome? What are the building blocks of co-creation? Which conditions are required? Are organisations really prepared to allow customers to influence and control their organisation and therefore become a co-creative organisation?

To understand the reality or illusion behind projects claiming to practice co-creation or co-design, one must look at the polarities of power and control that determine the context in which the co-creative processes take place, with on the one hand the communities of external collaborators, and on the other hand the corporate entities. But before tackling this issue in particular, it may be useful to see the emerging new paradigm of production that is arising out of the new participative processes.

The new institutional reality could be described as follows.

The First Layer: Collaborative Platforms

At the core are the enabling collaborative socio-technological platforms that allow knowledge workers, software developers and open design communities to collaborate on joint projects, outside of the direct control of corporate entities.

Interesting questions already arise here. These concern who or what is the driving force behind the creation and development of such platforms? They can be initiated by developing communities, managed and maintained by a new type of non-profit institution (like the FLOSS Foundations), or they can be corporate platforms that have been opened up to external participants.

The Second Layer: Open Design Commons/Communities and Physical Infrastructure

Around the corporate platform is the open design community and the knowledge/software/design commons ruled by a set of licenses which determine the particular nature of the property.

Interesting questions arise here. Is it a true commons license like the GPL? Or a sharing license like the Creative Commons, where the stress is on the individual sovereignity in determining the level of sharing that is allowed? Or is it a corporate license, giving very limited rights, or even with outright digital sharecropping, i.e. with the expropriation of the totality of the creative output reserved for usage by the organizing corporation?

It is important to see the open design commons not just as a collaborative community or a new type of 'intellectual property' depository, but also as a fundamentally new type of manufacturing infrastructure. Open design communities have different priorities and constraints than proprietary IP, and naturally design for modularity, lower threshold capital requirements, sustainability, etc. Thus, we are talking about the seeding of a new physical productive infrastructure as well.

The Third Layer: Entrepreneurial Coalitions

Around the commons are the entrepreneurial coalitions that benefit and sustain the design commons, create added value on top of it, and sell this as products or services to the market.

Important questions raised here are as follows. How is the coalition itself organized? Do all parties have equal say, as in the Linux Foundation, or does one big party dominate, as in the Eclipse Foundation and IBM. How does the business ecology relate to the community? Is is nothing but a corporate commons?

The Fourth Layer: Funding Ecologies

In addition, there is a funding infrastructure.

What is the process governing the stream of returns from the monetized market sphere; to the commons, its community, and the infrastructure of cooperation? Do businesses support the community directly, through the foundations? Is the government or a set of public authorities involved? Are there crowdfunding mechanisms?

The Fifth Layer: The Partner State as Orchestrator?

Finally, there is the role of public authorities and governments in orchestrating the public-private-common triad in order to benefit from the local effects of the new networked coopetition between entrepreneurial coalitions and their linked communities.

In the not so far future, wealth building or sustaining capacity will be determined to a large degree by the capacity of cities, regions and states to insert themselves within the global coopetition between different enterpreneurial coalitions (think Drupal vs Joomla, but on a much larger scale).

Overview of the Main Models Emerging So Far

When we via these layers through an interlocking triad (community—foundation—business) or quaternary structure (if public authorities are involved), we can now distinguish at least three main models:

— In commons-centred peer production, like Linux, the community is at the core, and a real commons operates, with the community strong enough to sustain its own infrastructure, and cooperating with market players.

— In a sharing environment, where individuals share their creative endeavour, it is the corporate third party platform which monetizes the attention space, and may control the platform to a significant degree; the community does not control its own platform, but is not without power of influence, since quick and massive mobilizations are always possible.

— In a crowdsourced environment, participant producers are even more isolated from each other, and the corporation integrates them into the value chain which they control. Since individuals are here competing for market value themselves, solidarity is more difficult to obtain, giving corporate platform owners more influence.

A good illustration of the various possibilities is Lego. Lego still operates as a classical producer of toys, selling to consumers. In Lego Factory, it provides a crowdsourced environment, where co-designers can take a cut of the kits they succeed in selling; the new Lego World virtual environment is a sharing environment; finally, Lugnet is true commons-oriented peer production, happening outside the control of the company altogether.

The Ladder of Participation: The Gradation of Control on Community/Corporate Polarity

Here are ten different co-creation modalities, depending on the polarity of control between peer producers and the corporate entities:

1. Consumers: you make, they consume. The classic model.

2. Self-service: you make, they go get it themselves. This is where consumers start becoming prosumers, but the parameters of the cooperation are totally set by the producing corporation. It's really not much more than a strategy of externalization of costs. Think of ATM's and gas stations. We could call it simple externalization.

3. Do-it-yourself: you design, they make it themselves. One step further, pioneered by the likes of Ikea, where the consumers re-assemble the product themselves. There is a complex externalization of business processes.

4. Company-based Crowdsourcing: the company organizes a value chain which lets the wider public produce the value, but under the control of the company.

5. Co-design: you set the parameters, but you design it together. For examples, see here:

6. Co-creativity: you both create cooperatively. In this stage, the corporation does not even set the parameters, the prosumer is an equal partner in the development of new products. Perhaps the industrial model of the adventure sports material makers would fit here. For examples, see here:

7. Sharing communities create the value: Web 2.0 proprietary platforms attempt to monetize participation.

8. Peer production proper: communities create the value, using a Commons, with assistance from corporations who attempt to create derivative streams of value. Linux is the paradigmatic example.

9. Peer production with cooperative production: peer producers create their own vehicles for monetization. The OS Alliance is an example of this.

10. Peer production communities or sharing communities place themselves explicitly outside of the monetary economy.

A diagram that mindmaps the possibilities of the open is found here.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics - Chapter Nine

• American neo-liberalism had become a hot topic in France by the late 1970s. Foucault sees key contextual differences between The United States and Germany (and France) as being:
1. It emerges as a reaction to the Keynesian policies of Roosevelt and the New Deal, from about 1934;
2. The policies of economic and social intervention are motivated in the U.S., as in Britain, not just by Keynesian economics, but by the need to provide security to those who had engaged in the war effort;
3. Growth in social programs was a theme of U.S. governments from the 1930s to the 1960s – Kennedy/Johnson “Great Society” programs.

• Bigger contextual differences in the U.S. case:
1. American liberalism was not a reaction to raison d’Etat, as in France, but was a founding doctrine of American independence and is therefore central to the legitimacy of the state – ‘The demand for liberalism founds the state rather than the state limiting itself through liberalism’ (p. 217)
2. Liberalism is therefore a recurring theme of American political debate;
3. Interventionist government policies therefore appear as non-liberal and somehow illegitimate and socialistic – they are therefore critiqued by the left as well as the right, with the left seeing the interventionist state as being tied to militarism and imperialism.

• ‘Liberalism in America … is a type of relation between the governors and the governed much more than a technique of governors with regard to the governed … whereas in a country like France disputes between individuals and the state turn on the problem of service, of public service, in the United States disputes between individuals and government look like the problem of freedoms’ (p. 218)

• It is therefore in the U.S. that writers such as von Hayek look to liberalism as not simply an alternative to state socialism or a technical alternative for government, but as generating utopian possibilities.

• The theory of human capital emerges from American neo-liberal economic thought (Theodore Schultz, Gary Becker, Jacob Mincer). It seeks to analyse labour itself, whereas classical political economy had little to say about the supply of labour, as compared to its employment by capital.

• ‘The neo-liberals practically never argue with Marx for reasons that we may think are to do with economic snobbery’ (p. 220) – their difference form Marx would revolve around the perception that the “abstraction” of labour is less the result of how it is subsumed within capital at the point of production, but rather because classical economics set its limit-point of analysis at the study of labour itself.

• The question being asked is not about the price of labour (wages), its uses (employment), or the value that it adds and who receives it (profit), but rather how the person who works makes choices between competing ends about how they develop their “human capital” in order to receive wages for undertaking work.

• Labour from the point of view of the worker can be decomposed between its capital (skills, ability, training etc.) and its income (earnings streams over time). ‘If capital is defined as that which makes a future income possible, this income being a wage, then you can see that it is a capital which in practical terms is inseparable from the person who possesses it. To that extent it is not like other capital. Ability to work, skill, the ability to do something cannot be separated from the person who is skilled and who can do this particular thing.’ (p. 224)

Homo economicus becomes not simply the partner of exchange as in classical liberal economics, but is ‘an entrepreneur of himself’ (p. 226). Consumption becomes production of satisfaction – this is not an individual who is alienated from either production or consumer society.

• Human capital is formed through:
1. Genetics – economic theory of marriage, the family, and children;
2. Parenting and socialization;
3. Educational investment;
4. Mobility and migration – psychological as well as material costs of moving necessitate some form of economic return.

Key move in development economics from the 1960s onwards was to link economic growth to education through investments in human capital.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics - Chapter Eight

• Why this topic? The methodological reason is to give ‘concrete content to relations of power’ by understanding how the ‘grid of governmentality’ operates at the level of economic policy or social management. He also wants to get beyond the moralizing of critiques of the state because:
1. It defines the state as the opposite of civil society;
2. It wrongly conflates different kinds of states, particularly liberal-administrative states and fascist-totalitarian states;
3. It promotes a paranoiac mode of thinking that eludes concrete empirical analysis (i.e. the state is becoming more fascist);
4. There is a need to understand critiques of the state as ways of promoting different thinking about state policy e.g. German neo-liberal critique extends a critique of Nazism into a critique of the interventionist state more generally.

• Foucault argues that we have not seen the growth of the state and raison d’Etat but rather its reduction – liberal governmentality involves setting limits to state control, rather than expanding the state’s domains of influence

• Some tendencies towards diffusion of German neo-liberal model to France, but in practice this has been limited by: (1) the much stronger traditions of state-centred governmentality in post-WWII France; (2) the absence of a clear sense of crisis; and (3) the fact that it is state bureaucrats who are being asked to reform themselves, rather than change being driven by exogenous forces. In France, the question of economic liberalism has also been liked historically to being an open or protected economy, and social policy has been seen as a corrective rather than as a correlate of the market economy.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics - Chapter Seven

• Social policy of neo-liberalism (Gesellschaftpolitik) is ‘active, intense, and interventionist’, but is not a compensatory policy for impacts of the market economy on the social fabric. It is rather ’a historical and social condition of possibility for a market economy, as the condition enabling the formal mechanism of competition to function’ (p. 160)

• The two key elements are:
1. Formalisation of society on the model of the enterprise;
2. Redefinition of the juridicial institution and the rule of law.

• Walter Lippmann symposium 1939 – emphasizes that the market economy is not a “natural order” but rather ‘the result of a legal order that presupposes juridicial intervention by the state’ (Louis Rougier) – Foucault identifies this as a turning point between classical liberalism and neo-liberalism

• This is not a juridicial order that is superstructural to economic relations – ‘The juridicial gives form to the economic, and the economic would not be what it is without the juridicial’ – ‘like Max Weber, they situate themselves from the outset at the level of the relations of production rather than at the level of the forces of production’ (p. 163)

• ‘The economic must be considered as a set of regulated activities from the very beginning … The economic can only ever be considered as a set of activities, which necessarily means regulated activities … these economic processes only really exist, in history, insofar as an institutional framework and positive rules have provided them with their conditions of possibility’ (p. 163)

• ‘The history of capitalism can only be an economic-institutional history’ (p. 164) – Foucault rejects the Marxist idea that Capitalism can be understood as a singularity – ‘the historical capitalism we know is not deducible as the only possible and necessary figure of the logic of capital’ (p. 165)

• German economic theory was concerned to show that capitalism could have a non-contradictory logic. It therefore focused on the one hand on the theory of competition, and whether or not it led inexorably to monopoly, and on the other on the economic-institutional ensembles which promoted the development of capitalism (e.g. Weber on the Protestant ethic)

• If we are not dealing with an essential Capitalism derived from a pure logic of capital, then the forms of legal intervention that change the economic-institutional ensemble become critical to ‘act … in such a way as to invent a different capitalism’ (p. 167)

• This raises the question of the “economic constitution” (Wirtschaftsordnung), and the development of debates about the Rule of law (l’Etat de droit or Rechtstadt) – rule of law emerged in opposition to both despotism and the police state – it requires that ‘public authorities act within the framework of the law’ (p. 169). It also generates a distinction between the Rule of law as it applies universally, and laws as generated in specific contexts and applied for particular actors (e.g. market regulations), which are generated by specialist administrative courts and institutions.

• The Rule of law as developed by von Hayek in The Constitution of Society presents the Rule of law in the economic order as the opposite of a plan. Economic planning has: (1) definite aims (e.g. a prescribed rate of growth); (2) modifications of the plan in light of circumstances to achieve the goal; and (3) public authorities supplanting individuals as the core decision-makers, and (4) public authorities as holders of all relevant information.

By contrast, the Rule of law as understood by Hayek requires: (1) restriction of state authority to setting formal laws and not dictating economic ends; (2) it must operate through fixed rules only and not by means of discretion; (3) economic agents can operate on the basis of certainty about the legal framework; and (4) formal laws are binding on the state as they are binding on others. Its correlate is that ‘the state must be blind to the economic processes. It must not be expected to know everything concerning the economy’ (p. 173) – ‘The economy is a game and the legal institution which frames the economy should be thought of as the rules of the game’ (p. 173)

• There is also the ‘growth of juidical demand’. The major challenge of classical liberalism was how to establish a general system of laws imposed on everyone in the same way. But the rise of an enterprise society has as its correlate ‘the number and size of the sources of friction between these competing units will increase and occasions of conflict and litigation multiply’ (p. 175) – this juridicial interventionism increasingly has to take the form of ‘arbitration within the framework of the rules of the game’ (p. 175) – ‘the de-functionarization of the economic action of plans, together with the increased dynamic of enterprises, produces the need for an ever-increasing number of judicial instances, or anyway of instances of arbitration’ (p. 175)

• Joseph Schumpeter shared with the ordoliberals a view that capitalism was not inherently contradictory at the economic level, but he did believe that monopolistic tendencies were inherent to capitalism as organized at a social level – this concentration of power would reduce the dynamism of capitalism and see it tending towards socialism. Schumpeter’s pessimism about the social pressures to absorb economic processes within the state is contrasted to the ordoliberals, who believe that the rule of law and social intervention can modify this tendency by promoting an enterprise society.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Google Wave and Journalism

As Google Wave starts to surface as a quite different way of conceiving of e-mail, and article in The LA Times discussed how it could change journalism towards a more collaborative practice.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics - Chapter Six

I have provided a summary of notes on the sixth lecture given by Michel Foucault at the College de France 1978-79, published under the title The Birth of Biopolitics. The lecture was originally given on 14 February, 1979.

• Foucault wants to emphasise the singularity of neo-liberalism, and not to say that it is a return to old economic theories (Adam Smith), it is another term for market society (Marxism) or that it is the generalization of a form of state power. For Foucault, it differs from liberalism in that liberalism was concerned with how to ‘contrive a free space of the market within an already given political society’, whereas neo-liberalism is concerned with ‘how the overall exercise of political power can be modeled on the principles of a market economy’ (p. 131).

• Competition is both rigorous in its internal structure but historically fragile, and therefore needs the active support of government – it is not a state of nature (laissez-faire)

1939 Walter Lippmann Colloquium in Paris – emphasises the need for an active policy to maintain a market economy – classical liberalism is seen as naïve in this respect, as ‘the problem is not whether there are things that you cannot touch and things that you are entitled to touch … [but] the problem is the way of doing things, the problem, if you like, of governmental style’ (p. 133).

• The problem of monopolies provides a recurring question for neo-liberalism, as it suggests that competition may contain its own negation – the question becomes one of showing how other factors – most notably law – can maintain monopoly, raising the question of the need to understand specific political-institutional frameworks in the development of capitalism. They shift the question away from intervention to prevent monopoly, or even to support it, to one where ‘non-intervention is necessary on condition, of course, that an institutional framework is established to prevent either individuals or public authorities intervening to create a monopoly’ (p. 137)

• Eucken (1952) – liberal government must intervene through regulatory actions and through organising actions. Regulatory actions are those policies which set the rules of the game. Neo-liberalism recommends a focus on price stability, and not policies such as full employment. Organising actions are those which set up the framework for commercial activities e.g. European agricultural policy.

• Social policy marks a major point of difference between Keynesian economics and what in France was known as the economics of the Popular Front, and neo-liberalism. Keynesianism recommends a redistributive social policy that modifies the effects of the market and economic competition, through social provision of essential goods and services (welfare state), redistributive taxation, and greater social spending as a reward for economic growth. The ordoliberals argue that social policy and economic policy cannot be founded on contradictory principles, as a social policy premised upon equalizing outcomes will undercut the economic mechanisms of the market. They favour private provision over social provision, social policy based upon individuals rather than collective groups, and a policy which maintains and encourages risk-taking rather than one which compensates for economic risk.

• German social policy under the social market economy could not be based upon such principles due to popular resistance, and it marks an important point of differentiation between German ordoliberalism and the American neo-liberalism of the Chicago School. Its core principle, however, is that social policy should not be a counterpoint to economic policy, and the German ordoliberals want a ‘policy of society’ rather than a ‘government of society’

• The new art of government is one that seeks to generalize the enterprise form throughout society. A range of social conditions are identified as correlates for this including: promoting access to private property; encouraging medium-sized towns and private home ownership; decentralizing economic activity; developing policies favourable to small business; and planning urban environments in order to minimize environmental degradation. This is what Rüstow referred to as a Vitalpolitik, or a ‘politics of life’, that ‘is a matter of making the market, competition, and so the enterprise, into what could be called the formative power of society’ (p. 148).

• One consequence of the enterprise society is that it has the potential to multiply sources of dispute, and hence it typically requires considerable legal arbitration and judicial activism.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics - Chapter Five

I have provided a summary of notes on the fifth lecture given by Michel Foucault at the College de France 1978-79, published under the title The Birth of Biopolitics. This lecture was given on 7 February, 1979.

• While classical liberalism and political economy raised the question of how to reconcile the expansion of the market and the objectives of raison d’Etat by proposing the paradox of ‘more state by less government’, the challenge facing German neo-liberals was how to legitimize a state in advance that both guarantees economic freedom and is guaranteed by it?

• The Freiberg School of German political economists (Watter Eucken, Franz Böhm, Müller-Armack, Wilhelm Röpke, Röstow) developed an influential reading of German history that saw a consistent rejection of liberalism over the C19th and early C20th as the path that led to the Nazi state

• By the early C20th, according to Foucault, the Marxist problematic of the contradictory logic of capital had been largely displaced in intellectual circles by the problematic of Max Weber around the ‘irrational rationality of capitalist society’. The Weberian problematic saw no internal limits to the logic of capital accumulation, but pointed to its paradoxical social consequences. While the Frankfurt School sought a new social rationality that could displace economic irrationality, the Freiberg School sought to redefine the economic rationality of capitalism in ways that could nullify its social irrationalities.

• The Freiberg School’s historical reading argued that obstacles to liberalism had appeared successively in German history:
  1. List’s principle in 1840 that national economy needed to take priority over liberal economy, and that Germany needs protectionism – liberalism seen as the policy of a maritime nation (Britain)
  2. Bismarckian state socialism in late C19th that preserved national unity against the socialist challenge through a welfare policy that reintegrated the working classes
  3. Preservation of the machinery of a planned economy after WWI, and support for economic planning by both socialist and non-socialist governments
  4. Early adoption of Keynesian-style interventions from 1930 onwards
  5. Nazism coalesced all of these already existing elements of German economic policy around the ‘total system’ of the war economy. Rather than being an aberration, Nazism – like Soviet planning – could be seen as the coalescence of a diverse range of non-liberal forms of governmental economic action.
• Nazism was seen by the Freiberg School as also drawing upon critiques of mass society under capitalism associated with Werner Sombart and others (society of the spectacle, loss of communitarian ties, individuals as isolated atoms), but only through intensifying mass society and spectacles – they reject the argument (associated with the Frankfurt School) that the liberal model of capitalism produces these ideas, but rather see them as a consequence of ‘a policy of protectionism and planning in which the market does not perform its function and in which the state or para-state administration takes responsibility for the everyday life of individuals. These mass phenomena of standardization and the spectacle are linked to statism, to anti-liberalism, and not to a market economy’ (p. 114). – contrast to Herbert Marcuse (p. 117)

• The Freiberg School attributes those irrationalities that others link to the market and to capitalism to the state and the absence of a fully-functioning market: ‘Nothing proves that the market economy is intrinsically defective since everything attributed to it as a defect and as the effect of its defectiveness should really be attributed to the state. So, let’s do the opposite and demand even more from the market economy than was demanded from it in the eighteenth century’ (p. 116).

• ‘The ordoliberals say we should completely turn the formula around and adopt the free market as organizing and regulating principle of the state, from the start of its existence up to the last form of its interventions. In other words: a state under the supervision of the market rather than a market supervised by the state’ (p. 116).

Ordoliberalism is not a continuation or a reversion to classical liberalism, liassez-faire or Adam Smith. It fundamentally revises liberal political economy in three ways:
  1. The focus is shifted from the market as a system of exchange generating prices but as a mechanism which ensures competition. If it is only competition that can guarantee economic rationality, then the state must play a role in ensuring that competition occurs, which raises the issue of monopoly as well as how the ‘rules of the game’ are structured by government – the competitive market is not a ‘natural order’, but must be continually guaranteed through the actions of government;
  2. There can never be ‘pure competition’, but only a striving towards producing more competition - ‘Competition is therefore an historical objective of governmental art and not a natural given that must be respected’ (p. 120)
  3. The relationship between the market/competition and the state/government cannot be a ‘reciprocal delimitation of different domains’ – ‘the essence of the market can only appear if it is produced, and it is produced by an active governmentality’ (p. 121).

Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics - Chapter Four

I have provided a summary of notes on the fourth lecture given by Michel Foucault at the College de France 1978-79, published under the title The Birth of Biopolitics. This lecture was given on 31 January, 1979.
• State-phobia is a recurring theme across the political and ideological spectrum. Foucault rejects a theory of the state as being like an ‘indigestible meal’ (p. 77), instead focusing upon how activites are brought under governmental rationality or etatisation. ‘The state is not a universal nor in itself an autonomous source of power … The state is nothing else but the mobile effect of a regime of multiple governmentalities’ (p. 77).

• German neo-liberalism rises to prominence in aftermath of WWII. Focus of post-WWII European economic policies was reconstruction, planning, and social objectives, all of which pointed towards greater governmental intervention in the key economic processes along Keynesian lines. Focus of German economic administration in 1948 was upon the removal of price controls and restoring market mechanisms at the earliest opportunity.

• Ludwig Erhard (1948): ‘Only a state that establishes both the freedom and responsibility of the citizens can legitimately speak in the name of the people’ (quoted on p. 81).

• Erhard’s statement not only refers to the obvious need to renounce the recent Nazi past, but also reflects the question on the conditions on which a new German state can be founded if there is not historical or juridical legitimacy. The proposal is that economic freedom can in itself constitute the basis for political sovereignty. Germany as a performative state where ‘the economy, economic development and economic growth, produces sovereignty; it produces political sovereignty through the institution and institutional game that, precisely, makes this economy work’ (p. 84). ‘All these economic partners produce a consensus, which is a political consensus, inasmuch as they accept this economic game of freedom’ (p. 84).

• The German neo-liberal policy was at odds with British neo-Keynesianism of the time, and had its critics on the left and among the unions in Germany at this time. It also appeared to be at odds with Christian doctrine of a social economy. It was therefore proposed that the German liberal order could be a ‘middle way’ between capitalism and socialism, with each of the other categories ambigiuously defined.

• German social democracy (SPD) turns from its Marxist inspired socialism towards an acceptance of the market economy and private property at the Bad Godesberg Congress of 1959, as long as it is compatible with ‘an equitable social order’ and does not produce monopolies. Foucault does not approach this as an SPD sell-out of its Marxist/socialist principles, but rather as an indicator of the extent to which the neo-liberal program had constituted the revised basis of the German state itself.

• ‘What socialism lacks is not so much a theory of the state as a governmental reason, the definition of what a governmental rationality would be in socialism. That is to say, a reasonable and calculable measure of the extent, modes, and objectives of governmental action’ (pp. 91-92).

• ‘In actual fact, and history has shown this, socialism can only be implemented connected up to diverse types of governmentality. There is no governmental rationality of socialism. It has been connected up to liberal governmentality, and then socialism and its forms of rationality function as counter-weights, as a corrective, and a palliative to internal dangers’ (p. 92) – it can also function as the internal logic of the administrative apparatus of a police state, where there is a fusion of government and administration (Soviet/Eastern European model)

• There is a consistent questioning of what is “true” socialism – was it the Germany of Helmut Schmidt, Erich Honecker, or something else – but we never ask what is “true” liberalism, as liberalism is not concerned with conformity to texts, but rather with more pragmatic logics of governmentality.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics - Chapter Three

I have provided a summary of notes on the third lecture given by Michel Foucault at the College de France 1978-79, published under the title The Birth of Biopolitics, which was given on 24 January, 1979.
Raison d’Etat was premised upon a balance between the unlimited objectives of the state within its territory on the one hand, and limited external objectives on the other – Treaty of Westphalia (system of states) generally accepted – mercantilism as an economic policy was premised upon the impoverishment of other states, and could only co-exist with relatively limited trade within Europe otherwise it would create a zero-sum game

• The market generates the possibility of mutual enrichment through trade, exchange and commerce – this pointed to the possibility of ‘reciprocal enrichment through the game of competition’ (p. 54)

• The idea of a European progress is a fundamental theme in liberalism, which has as a condition the commitment to an extended market so that all can benefit – ‘we are invited to a globalization of the market when it is laid down as a principle, and an objective, that the enrichment of Europe must be brought about as a collective and unlimited enrichment’ (p. 55)

• ‘This opening of the economic game onto the world clearly implies a difference of both kind and status between Europe and the rest of the world. That is to say, there will be Europe on one side, with the Europeans as the players, and then the world on the other, which will be the stake. The game is in Europe, but the stake is the world’ (pp. 55-56) – this is ‘the start of a new type of global calculation in European governmental practice’ (p. 56) – maritime law, Kant’s idea of “perpetual peace”, international law – ‘The guarantee of perpetual peace is therefore actually commercial globalization’ (p. 58)

• This does not lead to an era of European peace at all, and the ‘historical paradox of Napoleon’ emerges, who is hostile to the idea of a police state internally, but committed to an imperial project in Europe

• ‘Freedom is never anything other … than an actual relation between governors and governed, a relation in which the measure of the “too little” existing freedom is given by the “even more” freedom demanded’ (p. 63)

• ‘If I employ the word “liberal”, it is first of all because this governmental practice in the process of establishing itself is not satisfied with respecting this or that freedom, with guaranteeing this or that freedom. More profoundly, it is a consumer of freedom. It is a consumer of freedom inasmuch as it can only function insofar as a number of freedoms actually exist: freedom of the market, freedom to buy and sell, the free exercise of property rights, freedom of discussion, possible freedom of expression, and so on. The new governmental reason needs freedom therefore, the new art of government consumes freedom. It consumes freedom, which means that it must produce it. It must produce it, it must organize it. The new art of government appears as the management of freedom.’ (p. 63)

• At the heart of this liberal practice is an always different and mobile problematic relationship between the production of freedom and that which in the production of freedom risks limiting and destroying it … The liberalism we can describe as the art of government formed in the eighteenth century, entails at its heart a productive/destructive relationship with freedom … Liberalism must produce freedom, but this very act entails the establishment of limitations, controls, forms of coercion, and obligations relying on threats, etc.’ (p. 64)

• ‘Freedom in the regime of liberalism is not a given … Freedom is something which is constantly produced. Liberalism is not acceptance of freedom; it proposes to manufacture it constantly, to arouse it and produce it, with, of course, the system of constraints and the problems of cost raised by this production’ (p. 65) – the cost of freedom is security, and ‘the problem of security is the protection of the collective interest against individual interests. Conversely, individual interests have to be protected against everything that could be seen as an encroachment of the collective interest’ (p. 65)

‘The problems of what I shall call the economy of power peculiar to liberalism are internally sustained … by this interplay of freedom and security’ (p. 65)

• Consequences of this continuing need to arbitrate over the interplay of freedom and security:
  1. ‘The motto of liberalism is” “Live dangerously”’ (p. 66) – individuals continuously have to deal with danger and asses their exposure to it, and how to protect against it – ‘There is no liberalism without a culture of danger’ (p. 67)
  2. Development of disciplinary and supervisory techniques as a necessary correlate of liberal government derived from economic freedom
  3. Controls become a way of protecting freedoms – rise of ‘crisis of governmentality’ where ‘democratic freedoms are only guaranteed by an economic interventionism that is denounced as a threat to freedom’ (p. 68)
  4. Possibility of an ‘inflation of the compensatory mechanisms of freedom’ – too many protections in order to guarantee the freedom of the liberal state?

Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics - Chapter Two

Following from yesterday's post, I have provided a summary of notes on the second lecture given by Michel Foucault at the College de France 1978-79, published under the title The Birth of Biopolitics. This lecture was given on 17 January, 1979.

• Liberal art of government is ‘not something other than raison d’Etat, an element external to and in contradiction with [it], but rather its point of inflection in the curve of its development’ (p. 28) – idea of frugal government - the permanent question of ‘too much and too little’ government – the ‘question of liberalism’ is the frugality of government rather than constitutionalism

• The market becomes ‘the site of truth’ of liberal government (p. 30) – move from the market as a site of justice (setting of just prices), to market mechanism as generator of a natural, normal price through supply and demand

• ‘Inasmuch as prices are determined in accordance with the natural mechanisms of the market they constitute a standard of truth which enables us to discern which governmental practices are correct and which are erroneous’ (p. 32) – the market as a ‘site of verification-falsification for governmental practice’

• There is no singular cause of the rise of the market as the ‘site of truth’ of liberal government, but arises from a complex set of developments in C18th Europe

• History of truth is always coupled with the history of law – rejects the critique of European rationality associated with Frankfurt School and romanticism

• Foucault notes that in France faculties of law were long coupled with faculties of political economy – C18th economists also tended to be theorists of public law (Beccaria, Adam Smith, Bentham)

• ‘There is a shift in the centre of gravity of public law … the problem becomes how to set juridical limits to the exercise of power by a public authority’ (p. 39)

• Difference between the axiomatic, juridico-deductive approach to law (Rousseau and French Revolution – Rights of Man), and the approach that starts from governmental practice itself, and asks what would be the ‘desirable limits’ of government in terms of limits to its spheres of competence – ‘the problem of English radicalism is the problem of utility’ (p. 40)

• ‘We have therefore two absolutely heterogeneous conceptions of freedom, one based in the rights of man, and the other starting from the independence of the governed … they have different historical origins and I think they are essentially heterogeneous or disparate’ (p. 42) – the ambiguity between these is a feature of both C19th and C20th liberalism

• Centrality of concept of interests to the new art of government. ‘Government is only interested in interests … It deals with the phenomena of politics, that is to say, interests, which precisely constitute politics and its stakes; it deals with interests, or that respect in which a given individual, thing, wealth, and so on interests other individuals or the collective body of individuals’ (p. 45)

• ‘Liberalism posed the fundamental question of government, which is whether all the political, economic, and other forms which have been contrasted with liberalism can really avoid … formulating this question of the utility of a government in a regime where exchange determines the value of things’ (p. 47)