Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Castells in the Sky

A virtual riposte for my ‘off topic’ posts on network theory, feminism and structural cyberbullying! I thought that a blog assignment was perfect for tackling a big topic loosely, and I literally followed a literary path in my approach, where each post from first to last developed a different view of gender within network society while showing the evolution of application of network theories (and their lack) within some levels. Rather than 'off topic', see instead, 1,000 short words sketching in extensive research and original riffs on the topic.

Network theory is the ideal portable laboratory, to use Latour’s concept from “Give me a Laboratory and I will raise the world”, within which to destabilize scale and remove the inside/outside dichotomy, turning the dichotomies of gender and science into dialectic.

However, technological determinism lies at the heart of network theory. As Evelyn Fox Keller) puts it, just as modern feminism emerges from the recognition that women are made not born, contemporary studies of science come into being recognizing the difference between nature and science. There is a historical and epistemological parallel between the two that when combined can illustrate the dynamic instabilities and structural inequalities of, more than anything else, power.

As Foucault says, the perception that power resides in the machine, or panopticon, itself rather than in its operator is an effective and diffuse form of social control.  And so, I was looking from the top down at Harry Seldon’s Panopticon as well as searching for Castells in the sky.

As Latour explains, the laboratory is within the same societal constraints as the rest of society. And so network society is both within the same constraints of science and sex that the rest of us are and the use of network theory as an ‘objective tool’ should be opened to a feminist and science studies perspective, the combination of which is either a seamless epistemological parallel or a place of great dynamic instability depending on your footing.

So I argue, that as a whole, my blog assignment showed a meta-theoretical approach to network theory and feminism, which is something I continually contest and attest. At every stage of the construction of network society, gender has had an impact and continues to do so in the very structure at every scale.

As Foucault says: "the analysis, elaboration, and bringing into question of power relations and the 'agonism' between power relations and the intransitivity of freedom is a permanent political task inherent in all social existence". There is an elephant in the room, hear me trumpet!

No comments: