The upper crust is just a bunch of crumbs sticking together #Kulturkampf

High culture?

“In his cultural studies, DiMaggio’s historical research documented the self-conscious creation of “high culture” in the late 19th-century America. DiMaggio argues that, unsettled by the weak class distinctions in growing industrial cities, local elites created a “sophisticated” culture (via the arts,universitiessocial clubs, and the like) that would separate commoners from those of high standing. DiMaggio says that “high culture” models developed by founders of museums and orchestras were then adopted by patrons of operadance, and theatre.”

source – wikipedia.
And this


is available

All rather puts me in mind of that wonderful Onion story on “Finest opera singer of her generation unknown by her generation…”

“Entrench warfare” or “why I don’t bother with one-off trainings” #smugosphere #inertia

A few years ago I organised a one-off training session on research for activists. It went well and had … no discernible impact on how anyone did anything.  So it goes.  I reflected on this – and other training I have been part of as a punter. And I came to the conclusion that unless you are part of a group that values the new skill/knowledge, then whatever shiny new training you have been on will simply not become embedded, and you and your group will stick to what you know.  This is not a particularly startling observation.  But now at least I have a citation I can back it up with when I am whining about the smugosphere

It’s from a bloody brilliant paper –

Perkmann, M. and Spcier, A. 2008. How are management fashions institutionalized? The role of institutional work. Human Relations, Vol. 61 (6), pp.811-844.

This bit

Zeitz et al. (1999) distinguish between the transitory adoption of a practice and its enduring ‘entrenchment’. Entrenchment is defined as the institutionalization of a practice to the extent that it is unlikely to be abandoned. They argue that while the mere adoption of a practice indicates the exposure to a fashion, entrenchment is required to induce a lasting change of practice. They identify five ‘pillars’ by which a fashionable concept can become entrenched: models (spurring imitation), culture (promoting identification), education (again spurring imitation), regulative/coercive influences (exerting power) and technical-rational influences (providing recipes for improving performance). Assuming that such entrenchment can occur at different levels of analysis, from individual, organizational, interorganizational to the societal level, they propose a set of ‘indicators’ that can be used for empirically assessing as to whether a practice has become entrenched: formalization, compatibility (with other practices), depth, systematic coherence (with other concepts and strategies) and the existence of ‘webs of interdependencies’ (Zeitz et al., 1999).
(Perkmann and Spicer, 2008: 814/5)

And that citation is this – Zeitz, G., Mittal, V. & McAulay, B. Distinguishing adoption and entrenchment of management practices: A framework for analysis. Organization Studies, 1999, 20(5), 741–76.

So,  a while back there was talk of me doing a training or two with a group. But since only one person in that group knew me/valued the training, and he wasn’t going to be sticking around, (he and I) decided it was at best a waste of time, energy and morale for all concerned, and at worst actively harmful (destroys the credibility of innovation, turns it into a ritualistic set-up-to-fail thing).

Doomed, I tell you, all doomed.  So what.

Breaking into Baruch Spinoza’s shop #thesis “lens me your ears”

So, that last post, about the last two and a half years of my life being like stepping on rakes that then smack you in the face?  #selfpitying #melodramatic #firstworldproblems  And also a bit unproductive. Instead, surely it’s better to think of it like breaking into Baruch Spinoza’s shop (he was a lens grinder) and having loads of lenses that you can use.  The trick is knowing which ones to use, how and when, which ones combine to give you a clearer view, even – gasp a resolution (geddit?), and which ones make you woozy and fuzzy.

Something something six blind men and an elephant something.

Something something Otto Neurath and motes and planks in yer eye something

“We are like sailors who on the open sea must reconstruct their ship but are never able to start afresh from the bottom. Where a beam is taken away a new one must at once be put there, and for this the rest of the ship is used as support. In this way, by using the old beams and driftwood the ship can be shaped entirely anew, but only by gradual reconstruction.”

Wanna get it write? It’s the bloody iterations, sadly.

The rake’s progress – of my thesis, theories and getting smacked in the face.

The last two and a half years of my life have been like that scene in Cape Feare where Sideshow Bob keeps stepping on rakes and getting hit in the face and never learning to look down/up/wherever he is supposed to look, whatever he is supposed to do.

It’s a scene they deliberately hold for far too long (kind of like the incinerator at the end of Toy Story 3), and far funnier than my life has been… So it goes.

The literature-on-issue-attention-cycles-rake? – BAM!
The literature-on-corporate-political-strategy? – THWACK!!
The literature-on-public- policy? –  SPLATT!!!
The literature-on-institutional-work? –  THWUNK!!!!
My friend asked the right question – how did Mr. Bob get out of it.  Sad to say,  I think they go to a commercial break, which doesn’t really help.
So IRL, I am stuck with a passing familiarity with too many  theoritcal/analytical/academic (in every sense) “lenses” and not enough of my goddam thesis actually, you know, written.

Whirlwind – “This is an Uprising” – #afterthethesis

So, public policy theories talk about tipping points/sudden eruptions. I’m thinking of Baumgartner and Jones ‘Punctuated Equilibrium Theory’ (the clue is in the name) and also Multiple Streams Approach and ‘policy windows’. And then there’s Bill Moyer and the “Movement Action Plan” (abused and mis-used by some so-called activists, but that’s not his fault.)

Then, in this rather excellent interview with two actual activists (h/t Sam) there’s the following

When you referenced the Englers’ book [This is an Uprising: How Nonviolent revolt is shaping the 21st century] , you referred to the “moment of the whirlwind.”

EJ: Right. There can be all this work that builds and builds, and then all of a sudden, something changes—whether it’s political, in this case, or purely social, all of sudden everything is up for grabs, and there’s a wholly different kind of energy. And it’s possible to use that energy, especially if you’ve done the work ahead of time. And I think we are totally in that kind of moment now. I actually think that in this case, it’s going to be an extended moment, lasting years, where there will be waves of these moments of the whirlwind. It’s all of the energy that we’re seeing flow into our movement. And you know, look at what happened at the airports the other day. They had something very specific to do, and all of a sudden, everyone just showed up. But people were also, in any number of ways, ready to show up. It didn’t happen out of nothing. But when you’re ready, and when you’ve been doing the planning and making the connections, and talking to people about the risks and that kind of thing, and a moment like that presents itself, then things can cohere in a really remarkable way.

I am skeptical that it can be sustained of course (more Occupy flash in the pan), and will be blogging about that and Manchester shortly. We. Lack. Absorptive. Capacity.

Resources – tangible and intangible

“Resources can be tangible (e.g. equipment, machinery, finance, human resources) as well as intangible. Intangible resources include assets such as technological know-how, the status or reputation of an actor, its social contacts and network ties. Moreover, resources are conceptualized to be controlled not only by organizations but also by entire industries or emerging technological fields.”
(Farla et al. 2012: 994-5)

And what resources do social movements organisations have? What is their plan to increase those resources, to maintain them etc etc? If there are no good answers, just walk away. Or rather, if you ask the questions and get hostility, walk away. Or run – as you see fit.

“Finding the Woman Who Didn’t Exist” #afterthethesis

Finding the Woman Who Didn’t Exist

Hawthorne, Melanie C. Finding the Woman Who Didn’t Exist: The Curious Life of Gisèle d’Estoc. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2013. Pp. 216. isbn: 978-0-8032-4034-6

Who was the woman hidden behind the name “Gisèle d’Estoc”? The pseudonym suggests a strange hybrid of Romantic ballerina and medieval warrior: “estoc” is the old French word for sword, and “Giselle” the title of the famous ballet. In spite of the scandal she caused in her lifetime, Gisèle d’Estoc has long remained an enigma. When a sensational “Love Diary” attributed to a paramour of Guy de Maupassant was first published in the early 1940s, some scholars assumed it was a hoax. They refused to believe that the author of the diary, later identified as “Gisèle d’Estoc,” had existed. In her new book, Finding the Woman Who Didn’t Exist: The Curious Life of Gisèle d’Estoc, Melanie Hawthorne proves that the woman known as Gisèle d’Estoc was a real person. As she pieces together the story of her larger-than-life subject, Hawthorne also makes a case for the value of archival research in the humanities. Finding the Woman Who Didn’t Exist is not just a biography, but also a witty and engaging first-person account of a scholar’s search for clues. The careful arrangement of the chapters preserves the suspense of d’Estoc’s identity at birth until the very end.

The author’s journey begins with a descent into the underworld of the Bibliothèque nationale de France (Bibliothèque François-Mitterrand), with its labyrinthine hallways, endless waiting times and recurrent technological glitches. This austere starting point soon gives way to a lurid world of orgies, cross-dressing lovers, bombs hidden in flowerpots and topless women fighting duels with swords. It is no wonder that the existence of Gisèle d’Estoc should have been called into question: in many ways, she seems to have sprung straight out of Barbey d’Aurevilly’s forehead, sword in hand.

Gisèle d’Estoc’s flamboyantly theatrical love life led to spectacular acts of transgression and revenge. In the course of her affair with Guy de Maupassant, she disguised herself as a schoolboy and procured women for her famous lover. Her liaison [End Page 144] with the actress Emma Rouër ended in a duel alleged to be the inspiration for Émile Bayard’s 1884 painting “Une affaire d’honneur.” D’Estoc’s name also came up in connection with the bomb attack at the Restaurant Foyot in Paris in 1894. The main victim of the explosion was the poet and journalist Laurent Tailhade, who had provoked d’Estoc’s ire after dropping hints in print about her affair with the writer Rachilde. Although the attack was more likely the result of an anarchist plot, d’Estoc was suspected of having planted the bomb to settle her score with Tailhade.

For all her notoriety, however, d’Estoc remains strangely hidden. A photograph (described but not reproduced in the book) exposes her naked body while shielding her face from view. In Bayard’s painting, the duelist presumed to be Gisèle d’Estoc has her back to us. Frustratingly for her biographer, d’Estoc seems to pop up everywhere without ever being fully visible. It would be tempting to fill in the gaps with hypotheses, to romanticize d’Estoc or to speak in her place. Instead, Hawthorne remains scrupulously exact as she sifts fact from rumor. Finding the Woman Who Didn’t Exist reminds us that a scholar’s journey is not solely made up of “Eureka!” moments. After combing through the archives at the Musée d’Orsay, Hawthorne discovers that d’Estoc exhibited at the Salon as a sculptor under her married name, Madame Parent Desbarres. Yet no concrete trace of her work survives beside the photograph of a sculpture representing a peasant woman. As a consequence, it is impossible to assess d’Estoc’s contribution to the Parisian art world. Hawthorne’s investigation into the life of Gisèle d’Estoc is an important addition to the growing field of women’s biographies. It addresses some of the core theoretical issues identified by Janet Beizer in Thinking Through the Mothers while providing an engrossing account of a colorful figure from the demi-monde of late nineteenth-century Paris.