Order and Disorder: Time, Techology and the Self

Kendall, G. and Michael, Mike. 2001. Order and Disorder: Time, Techology and the Self. Culture Machine, [Article]

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This paper is concerned with the complex interdigitation of the works of Michel Foucault and Bruno Latour (and more generally, actor-network theory).In particular, we are keen to develop, through an exploration of the commonalities, differences and tangentialities between these authors, new ways of thinking about the interrelations, mutualities and patternings of order and disorder in social life (conceptualised as heterogeneously constituted).

First, we examine the ways in which Latour and Foucault respectively deal with technology and/or technique in order to draw out the role of 'uniqueness' in processes of heterogeneous dis/ordering.

Second, we consider the ways in which Latour and Foucault deal with the subject, and its relations to identity.In particular, we note that underpinning both these thinkers' treatments is a view of the human (but also, in Latour, of the non-human) as at once fixed and fixable, but also fluid and 'fluidable': whereas for Latour the emphasis that is placed upon fixability and fluidity is allowed de jure, for Foucault fluidity has a de facto status which 'prompts' the various techniques and technologies of self (fixity).We suggest that neither of these approaches is satisfactory, for the fluid-ised self/identity is never knowable, except as 'in-process', and the fixed subject/identity is too knowable - a 'mere' cipher for a network or assemblage (Latour) or discursive formation (Foucault).We suggest that self/identity is most interesting at those points of transition from fluidity to fixity and vice versa.

Third, we compare and contrast Foucault's and Latour's tacit models of temporality as they structure their historico-empirical studies, showing how in deploying differing time frames and different narratives of continuity (which, in turn, evoke different versions of self/identity), they produce different accounts of ordering processes.In contrast, and drawing on Michel Serres (which we do throughout), we shall suggest, in counterpoint, that temporality should be seen as emergent in the dis/ordering processes that we identify.In conclusion, we draw the three themes of technique/technology, self/identity and ordering/temporality together to show, in that they inform one another, they can serve as the basis of a revisioning of social (that is, heterogeneous) research.

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technique, technology, Heidegger, temporality, Foucault, Serres, identity, human, nonhuman

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November 2001Published

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Date Deposited:

22 Jan 2010 10:47

Last Modified:

07 Jul 2017 11:12

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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