Category Archives: After The Thesis

What we knew on #climate in 1971… #auspol

A couple of years ago the folks at the Conversation asked me to bash out a piece on what Australians knew about climate change in the late 60s, early 70s. I did an okay-ish job, but have since radically expanded my knowledge of that period.  What we have below is not the first mention of climate change in books (you could see A Dirty Story and The Effluent Society both published 1970), but this is one of the more detailed ones, and was written by a couple of well-respected scientists.

I plan, #afterthethesis (which is imminent), to do something more systematic about who said what when (and it went all the way to the top – Deputy Prime Minister Doug Anthony, in 1971, f. ex).  For now, this – climate change was being spoken of in terms of foreboding back in 1968-9 by Australian scientists…

1971 conservation cover

but don’t judge a book just by its FRONT cover…

1971 conservation back cover

and then there is a mention in the first chapter…

1971 conservation page 27

1971 conservation page 28

Costin, A and Marples, T. 1971. The Nature and Quality of Resources in Costin, A and Frith, H. (eds) Conservation. Ringwood, Victoria: Pelican pp.  11-42.

We’re so toast.

Fear and the capture of new markets #transitions #energy

Oh I want a post-doc.  Not just for the paying of the bills: I actually know what I want to study too. I want to study the mobilisation of emotions (fear, greed, hope etc) by entrepreneurs and contrapreneurs to

  • create new markets
  • capture existing/emerging ones
  • prevent new ones forming because it offends your a) worldview and/or b) balance sheet.

solarpower feasibleI know how I’d study it too, conceptually: I want to combine institutional theory (my new intellectual crush – but I’m not blind to the critique of it from the critical management studies types) and transitions studies (I’m probably ready to move from the MLP – clunky, undercooked and overegged – to Strategic Niche Management.  And that would also take in social movement studies, I suppose.

While of course not losing sight, a la Benjamin the Donkey in Animal Farm, that it is all futile anyway because Oh Susie we ran out of time, as Bill McKibben just said about The Donald.

Where does all this exuberance come from?  From the incumbent tactics on display in my ‘home’ country of Australia.  Basically, the guys who like and/or own centralised fossil development realise that they need to slow down the move towards renewables and grid fragmentation (the two overlap, but aren’t the same thing).

And so they’re beating up all sorts of stories about inevitable blackouts.  This is standard operating procedure when a new technology threatens the interests of people currently making a packet: you’d only be surprised if it wasn’t happening.  But here’s what someone told the fantastic Reneweconomy site. about the emerging market in peer-to-peer electricity trading etc (emphasis added).

The networks, initially, for convincing the regulator to allow them to spend tens of millions of dollars on IT systems and research, and further out because they might see a role for themselves in aggregating this demand and playing in the wholesale or grid services market.

Greensync and co like it because they want to be the traders of this new commodity. As we reported on Wednesday, in our story devoid of blackout threats, we will get some idea of what this DSO and orchestration might look like, and who might control it, when AEMO and the ENA release a joint report next week.

And as one wise soul pointed out to RenewEconomy on the sidelines of the conference: “A lot of companies are hanging their hat on this. There’s a lot of money to be made for this, they all want boxes in houses, and they want it to be their box.”

And, this good person further noted, the best way to get things moving in Australia – and grab control of a citizen’s asset – is to spread alarmist rhetoric, confect crisis, and then look like you have a solution.

It’s the old “stampede” tactic. To be studied in real-time.  Looking at the cultural-cognitive and normative pillars, rather than (just) the regulative one. Looking at the competing institutional logics and resulting complexity, and how different actors engage in different types of institutional work/entrepreneurship/convening/partaking to manage that complexity.  Ya basta with the tedious regime (in the MLP sense)  stuff, based as it is on structuration and a fudge of monumental and consequential proportions…

Onwards (and “Death to Humanity”, as Napoleon the pig would say. Obvs).


Nice power/authority distinction

I have been – by wiser heads than mine – warned off trying to bite off much more for The Thesis, and we all agree with the imperative to Get The Damned Thing Finished.  So, am not going to open up the box marked “power” more than a little peek…  That’s for a mythical post-doc…

Meanwhile, Gerard Henderson (I’m not really a fan, but “stopped clocks” and all that) had this to say this morning about the Barnaby Joyce fiasco (the latest one, I mean) on ABC’s Insiders this morning (18 February 2018)

“As we know in politics, politicians often think they have power.  They don’t really have power, they have legitimate authority. They may make powerful decisions, but what they have is authority. Once you lose your authority, once you’re de-authorised, like Barnaby Joyce is, it’s very difficult to hang on….”

Reminds me of Somerset Maugham‘s observation in Then and Now (his imagining of Machiavelli past his prime) about the thing politicians not being able to survive being ridicule/mockery….

“The making of a petrol station” #Afterthethesis

The making of a petrol station and the “on-the-move consumer”: Classification devices and the shaping of markets


This paper addresses the issue of classification devices and their role in shaping markets. We depart from the notion that markets are shaped by multiple calculative agencies and examine how particular forms of calculation are made viable. Classification devices are the infrastructure that makes calculation possible and sustains particular economic orders. We illustrate these notions with an empirical, longitudinal study of a fuel retail company and its initiative to re-classify its network of petrol stations across Europe. Our study focuses on the extensive and protracted negotiations over what constituted relevant categories and the multiple perspectives involved in defining petrol station types. We illustrate how a store typology plays an important role in making assemblages of ideas (e.g. consumer-on-the-go), objects (e.g. store planograms), and managerial roles (e.g. category managers) coalesce around particular constellations of practices which impact upon the outline of markets.

Who am I kidding?  I will be reading this before I am done.

“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.

“Powerpoint and Strategy” #afterthethesis

So, gonna use this site to bookmark stuff I will read After The Thesis. First up, this

Kaplan, S. 2011. Strategy and PowerPoint: An Inquiry into the Epistemic Culture and Machinery of Strategy Making. Organization Science, Vol. 22 (2), pp.320-46.

PowerPoint has come to dominate organizational life in general and strategy making in particular. The technology is lauded by its proponents as a powerful tool for communication and excoriated by its critics as dangerously simplifying. This study takes a deeper look into how PowerPoint is mobilized in strategy making through an ethnographic study inside one organization. It treats PowerPoint as a technology embedded in the discursive practices of strategic knowledge production and suggests that these practices make up the epistemic or knowledge culture of the organization. Conceptualizing culture as composed of practices foregrounds the “machineries” of knowing. Results from a genre analysis of PowerPoint use suggest that it should not be characterized simply as effective or ineffective, as current PowerPoint controversies do. Instead, I show how the affordances of PowerPoint enabled the difficult task of collaborating to negotiate meaning in an uncertain environment, creating spaces for discussion, making recombinations possible, allowing for adjustments as ideas evolved, and providing access to a wide range of actors. These affordances also facilitated cartographic efforts to draw boundaries around the scope of a strategy by certifying certain ideas and allowing document owners to include or exclude certain slides or participants. These discursive practices—collaboration and cartography—are part of the “epistemic machinery” of strategy culture. This analysis demonstrates that strategy making is not only about analysis of industry structure, competitive positioning, or resources, as assumed in content-based strategy research, but it is also about how the production and use of PowerPoint documents that shape these ideas. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]