TCRG x AIMe 6: “Speaking of organization in its own language”

by lukevanryn


In this chapter Latour tackles the economy, which troubles the Inquiry, because it seems to already have provided a “powerful metalanguage” for the description of everyday life (383).  Latour finds three key problems with thinking about the economy: economic theory describes in a cool, even tone the heat of economic activity (386); economics finds calculation everywhere, and decision nowhere (387); attributes to a different order of being what should be immanent, as one of his interlocutors expresses it:

behind all that agitation you haven’t yet detected the assured presence of the real sources of organization: Society, the State, the Market, Capitalism, the only great beings that actually hold up this jumble (388).

Noting that the Economy relies upon the resources of attachement [att], morality [mor], and organization [org], he spends the bulk of the chapter discussing organization, or as he would prefer to put it, organizing. Drawing on work by John Law and Michel Callon, Latour attempts to get at what is specific to the work of organizing, and the contribution of organization to what we think of as the Economy, particularly through the extended metaphor of the “script”.

We meet as usual in the Pierre Gorman Room, 1888 Building, at 5pm this Tuesday 10th December.

[PDF] Latour, B. (2013) “Speaking of organization in its own language” An Inquiry into the Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns (C. Porter, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, ch. 14.