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.

Activists, Bernardi, Refugees + much else – January in #Climate History

The All Our Yesterdays project is doing (at least) a blog post a day to show that the climate policy battles of today are repeats/mash-ups of the last thirty years. We have always been ignoring the scientists, blowing hot and cold on carbon pricing, blowing hot and cold on support for renewables, pretending mother nature isn’t getting mildly irked etc etc.

Each blog post lists one main thing (captured in the title) but most blog posts also have other events from other years (this is especially true after January, which is traditionally a slow month in Australian politics).

If you have any events that happened on days in future months, let me know, via the comments on this page. Happy to hear other comments to (but I don’t feed trolls).

Jan 1, 2003- NSW ‘Greenhouse Gas Reduction Scheme’ implemented

Jan 2, 1995 – Carbon tax on the cards, says BCA boss…

Jan 3, 1992 – Greenpeace vs POTUS on Climate Change

Jan 4, 1995 Liberals say planting trees beats a carbon price…

Jan 5, 2006 – Labor MPs release climate refugees paper ‘Our Drowning Neighbours’

Jan 6, 1995 – Business says ‘other nations are doing little, so should Australia’

Jan 7, 2013 – Frontline Action on Coal activist sends out spoof ANZ press release…

Jan 8, 2013 – Prime Minister Gillard connects heatwave and climate change

Jan 9, 1995 – Efficiency is better than a tax, says business. Of course.

Jan 10, 2011- flooding hits Queensland

Jan 11, 2008 – NSW Minerals Council tells industry to sell sustainability

Jan 12, 2006 – Protests at “AP6” talks in Sydney

Jan 13, 2009 – Aborigines to feel climate shift the most

Jan 14, 2006 – Scientist asks IPA if it supports *any* regulation…

Jan 15, 1990 – Liberal Party feels it got shafted

Jan 16, 2006 – Liberal Treasurer supports a carbon price. Or does he?

Jan 17, 1995 – Economic ministries throw their weight around on carbon tax…

Jan 18, 1993 – ‘Greens Jobs in Industry Plan’ of ACTU and ACF…

Jan 19, 2016- outgoing chief scientist says tougher greenhouse targets inevitable

Jan 20, 2010- Greens propose a tax to salvage the CPRS car crash

Jan 21, 2014 – Government legislates against further temperature increases

Jan 22, 1992 – “greenhouse action will lead to poorhouse” warning

Jan 23, 2013- Australian coal mining versus the planet….

Jan 24, 1989 – Greenhouse is not simply an energy issue says Resources Minister

Jan 25, 1995 – greenhouse and electricity reform policies battle. Greenhouse loses…

Jan 26, 1989 – “Hole in the Greenhouse” reports the Canberra Times

Jan 27, 2009 – Cory Bernardi launches ‘Thank God for Carbon’

Jan 28, 1992 – Ros Kelly admits it’s a long way to Toronto

Jan 29, 2004 – Skeptic author John Daly dies

Turnbull, #climate and the National Press Club #auspol

Jan 30, 1989 -coal might get restricted?!

Jan 31, 2009 – Australia’s first Climate Action Summit begins…


Inscribed capacity described

“As Allen (1997) has shown, power can be conceptualized in a variety of ways – as an ‘inscribed capacity’, a collectively produced resource mobilized by groups to achieve particular ends, or as a mobile and diffuse phenomenon realized as a series of ‘strategies, techniques, and practices’.”
(Lawhon and Murphy, 2011: 367)

Who does the inscribing? On what material? Sand, paper?  (Latour’s immutable mobiles etc etc).

In invisible ink? On paper that crumbles?  It’s like a fountain, isn’t it – constantly needing new inputs to stay even looking the same, let alone get bigger.  Flows and nos…

And who says organise says tyrannise, according to Bob Michels, anyway… though Osterman, P. 2006. Overcoming oligarchy: culture and Agency in Social Movement Organisations. Administrative Science Quarterly, 1 (1), pp. 63-85 looks like it is worth a read…

“A case study of the Southwest Industrial Areas Foundation is used to examine how a mass-movement social organization has been able to avoid the consequences of an oligarchic leadership structure, which previous scholars have claimed leads inevitably to loss of membership commitment, “becalming,” and goal displacement. The case describes this network of community organizations, which has a very strong and self-perpetuating authority structure but has nonetheless maintained the commitment and involvement of its membership for many decades as it addresses issues such as school reform, living wages, training programs, health insurance, and physical community infrastructure. The case shows how the organization maintained its membership commitment and a clear focus on its original objectives by enhancing the membership’s sense of capacity and agency and building a culture of contestation within the organization that encourages the membership to push back against the elite who dominate the organization.”

Here’s an Allen reference that looks mighty fine. Probably #afterthethesis though…

“Bel-Ami” – brilliant brilliant book about journalism, life, image, etc

How did I not know about this book?  Why was I not told?  Eh?  This is up there with The Wire as “cultural artefacts that everyone will have to engage with when I am chief fascist dictator”.

It’s by Guy de Maupassant, a French writer (mostly of short stories) who died from syphilis in the early 1890s after a short but brilliant and prolific career, writing about French society in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1.

Bel-Ami follows the ever-upward trajectory of Georges Duroy (the name changes in the course of the book). We first meet him basically starving on the streets of Paris. He meets an old army acquaintance who offers him a hand-up – an invitation to dinner, and money to hire the right clothes for such a dinner.  There is a wonderful scene, full of insight where Duroy climbs the stairs feeling the clothes ill-fitting and himself to be obviously a fraud. He bumps into an extremely elegant young man, beautifully turned out…. his reflection. And he learns to fake it till you make it (It would have been great if Maupassant had lived long enough to get down with Siggie Freud).

Duroy is a cad, a bounder, an  outrageous user of women.  He becomes a journalist (somewhere between Scott Templeton meets Sammy Glick) and the novel follows his ascent, alongside and over the bodies of various women (Duroy is as priapic as de Maupassant was).

There is fantastic stuff about corruption, appearances, hypocrisy, love, obsession.  The use of a painting of Jesus walking on water becomes a skilfully-used motif.

Really, this is a book to re-read every year.  Just amazing.