How does science create knowledge? Epistemic cultures, shaped by affinity, necessity, and historical coincidence, determine how we know what we know. In this book, Karin Knorr Cetina compares two of the most important and intriguing epistemic cultures of our day, those in high energy physics and molecular biology. The first ethnographic study to systematically compare two different scientific laboratory cultures, this book sharpens our focus on epistemic cultures as the basis of the knowledge society.
This article focuses upon the construction of wants and the embodying of the market in the work routines of workers on the Swiss foreign exchange market. The authors are particularly concerned with the role of the computer screen within the establishment of postsocial relations around a sense of embodied lack. The screen does not provide access to the market but is the market as an exteriorized assemblage of practices brought together in one place. The screen is the market rather than (...) its representation into which traders immerse themselves. Traders engage with this market in their daily work practices through a constructed sense of lack that requires them to act passionately within the market in order to satisfy the self understood as a structure of wanting. While Knorr Cetina and Bruegger draw on a Lacanian understanding of the self as lack, rather than focus on the formation of direct human social relations around this issue, they look instead at the materiality of lack and its position within the postsocial relations constituted through trading online in the foreign exchange market. Desire is constituted and realized here through the object of the computer screen rather than with other people directly. In this way relations between persons are mediated by real objects that constitute persons virtually. (shrink)
The new terrorism is a major exemplifying case for complexity theory – for example, it exemplifies major disproportionalities between cause and effect, unpredictable outcomes, and self-organizing, emergent structures. It also illustrates, I argue in this article, the emergence of global microstructures: of forms of connectivity and coordination that combine global reach with microstructural mechanisms that instantiate self-organizing principles and patterns. Global systems based on microstructural principles do not exhibit institutional complexity but rather the asymmetries, unpredictabilities and playfulness of complex (and (...) dispersed) interaction patterns. The analysis of complex global microstructures helps to collect and assess empirical evidence for the architecture of the global structural forms of a world society. It also suggests a theory of microglobalization – the view that the texture of a global world becomes articulated through microstructural patterns that develop in the shadow of (but liberated from) national and local institutional patterns. (shrink)
This article is an attempt to make sociological sense of the 2008 American election — particularly of the phenomenological observation of extraordinary enchantment and almost amorous attraction which unlikely members of the American population displayed for Obama, from the early days of the campaign onward. I draw on charisma theory to argue that sociology has something surprising to say on the phenomenon, and on the metaphor of the pipe to add detail about the technology of attraction that was in play.
Markets have led a shadowy existence in economics. The ruling paradigm, neoclassical economics, for which markets are a central institution, has mainly been concerned with the determination of market prices. Until recently, sociological investigations of modern markets focused on production, as did anthropological work that ascertained how each culture made a living. The major debate among anthropologists to date has been about whether the economic rationality of the maximizing individual is to be found in all societies or whether substantive economies (...) are always embedded in a cultural matrix that determines its logics and forms of transaction. A new feature of financial markets is that they are based upon scopic systems – electronic and informational mechanisms of observing and contextualizing market reality and of back-projecting this reality onto the computer screens of globally operating traders. When such a mechanism is in place, coordination and activities respond to the reflected, represented reality rather than to pre-reflexive occurrences. This form of coordination contrasts with network forms of coordination that are pre-reflexive in character. In network markets, participants rely on their relationships to determine ‘where the market is’. In a market based on scopic systems, the market is fully visible on screen – as a set of tradable, comprehensively contextualized, quickly moving prices for various trading instruments. In this situation, a level of global inter-subjectivity emerges that derives from the character of these markets as reflexively observed by participants on their computer screens in temporal continuity, synchronicity, and immediacy. As a consequence, these markets are communities of time. As temporalized systems, financial markets project a form of coordination adapted to a global world that leaves behind the patterns of traditional producer and exchange markets. (shrink)