Deleuze and DeLanda: A new ontology, a new political economy?

This paper will explore how the social ontology of Gilles Deleuze, as recently summed up by Manuel DeLanda, can be used in the context of economic sociology. In particular, the text will study the divergences (as well as similarities) between Deleuzians such as DeLanda and Actor­Network theorists such as Michel Callon and Bruno Latour. The text starts off from the concept of ‘assemblage’ (agencement), using it as a point of departure for sketching the differences between the two strains of thought. Whereas the concept of assemblage is often used by ANT­inspired writers to loosely denote ‘hybrid collectives’ under constant reconfiguration, in particular in the context of economic agency, Deleuze’s original use of the term is more specific (featuring a number of special properties), and at the same time more generic (used to describe wide variety of entities). As an example of this usage, the the paper will describe the modern corporation as a Deleuzian assemblage, using the automobile industry as a case study. With the help of some classic’ studies of the rise of the modern corporation, this rendering will (hopefully) clarify concepts such as ‘territorialisation’, ‘stratification’ and ‘abstract machine’. The text is concluded with a brief discussion on how the two perspectives explored in this paper can contribute to a new way of sketching ‘the political’ in the economy. Here, the text will expand further on the divergences between ANT­inspired and Deleuze ­inspired writers, for instance comparing the notion of ‘performativity’ with the concept of ‘molarity’.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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