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Journal Issue #5 Management

Released on May 12, 2017

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Accelerate Management

Mark Fisher

What if – contrary to all carefully constructed appearances – the problem in neo-liberal culture is that there isn’t enough management? Although neo-liberalism presents itself as an economic programme, it is better understood as a massive control apparatus designed to thwart the democratic socialist and libertarian communist experiments that effloresced in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The systemic anti-productive inefficiency engendered by neo-liberal managerialism is neither a mistake nor a failure: it has precisely succeeded in its aim of producing a generalised resubordination of workers, and a disabling of former “red bases” such as universities and art colleges.

The route to overcoming this consists neither in the (capitalist) realist accommodation to managerialism nor in the fantasy of exit from institutions. Democratic socialism has always been about the promise of a better managed society (where management is precisely not synonymous with top-down control). In order to assert democratic control over our lives and work, we must therefore reclaim management from managerialism.

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Bureaucracy’s Labour: The Administrator as Subject

Andrea Francke and Ross Jardine

In addition to bringing together existing research on domestic and administrative labour, the authors will use findings from their work with the campaign group Justice 4 Domestic Workers (J4DW) undertaken in January 2016.1 Feminist theory around domestic labour is well established and wide-ranging. Theories that examine the invisibility of reproductive labour seek to subjectify the figure of the domestic worker to politicise the domestic. We will map the commonalities between domestic and administrative labour, namely: (in)visibility; the gendered and objectified nature of both types of work; and the perceived placement of administration and domestic labour within the hierarchy of organisational or household priorities.

1. More information and contact details for Justice 4 Domestic Workers can be found on its website http://www.j4dw.com (Accessed 2016-02-20.)

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Arts and Humanities Education as Neo-liberalism Comes Unglued

Christopher Newfield

Taking as his theme the management of higher education as it is increasingly transformed by administrative rather than academic professionals, Newfield examines the establishment of a partnership between leadership groups at Yale University in the United States and the National University of Singapore (NUS), in which a new college for East-West liberal arts and sciences instruction was formed outside traditional disciplinary boundaries. The creation was a two-step process. First, the institutional deal was negotiated and signed, with nearly no prior participation from the faculty members of either institution, and with later fierce opposition from some Yale faculty members inspired by their critique of a managerialist exclusion of faculty and their collegium-based traditions of self-governance. Second, the first group of permanent Yale-NUS faculty members spent a fully-paid year designing the curriculum from scratch. Form and financing were established by management, and then curricular content was provided by faculty.

The division of labour reflects the traditional structure of American university management, in which professorial authority extends to teaching, non-sponsored research, the departmental governance that supports these activities, and nothing more. Is this divided authority good enough to enable academic freedom at Yale-NUS in the traditional sense? Could it overcome the initial Yale faculty opposition to the project as complicit with Singapore’s restrictions on speech and sexual identity?

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The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life Online: Between Alienation and Belonging

Karin Hansson

When considering how relations are handled in social media applications, these technologies can further alienate people as their relations become commodified, but they can also bring about the possibility of reducing alienation in certain areas by connecting multiple intersecting self-managed networks of people. This “Multitude” has led Marxist scholars to claim that the network-based creative economy can be seen as a form of communism.

The purpose with this article is to explore how a process of alienation and disalienation takes place in practice, taking young artists’ online communication as a case, drawing from comprehensive sources on the internet such as blogs, web pages, networking sites and digital magazines, as well as interview data. The results shows different strategies for handling the tension between communication technologies used as tools to strengthen relations and destabilise hegemonic identities, or as a tool that commodify relations, enabling self-exploitation and user surveillance. The article contributes to critical internet studies by conceptualising Marx’s theory of alienation into a framework for describing communication practices as relational modes of production; from using communication technologies for becoming visible and accessible on an open market, to performing a trustworthy persona online, to using it for maintaining bonds with a community.

“Save St James Street Library Campaign”, 2007. Courtesy of The Mill.

“Save our Library!”: Social Action, Austerity and The Big Society

Carla Cruz

The Mill is a community initiative that emerged from a campaign to save a local library closed without public consultation, in the London borough of Waltham Forest. After four years of campaigning and pushed by the local authority’s decision to sell the building, the community group shifted their focus to keeping it in public hands. A good dose of determination kept the group going, and the coincidental alignment of events and skilled people allowed them to take over the building to provide space and resources for local people to come together and organise interest groups, events and activities in a friendly environment. The events took place between 2007 and 2011, during the global financial crisis, the subsequent change of government in the UK and the country’s deficit reduction programme. Thus, The Mill is an extraordinary example that delineates the connection between the withdrawal of public funding for culture, and the emergence of private/collective initiatives that attempt to fill in cultural demands locally. These initiatives are led mostly by volunteers, and were briefly collectively called the “Big Society”. In this paper, I consider the relationship between community forms of management and austerity policies, exploring how such policies influence the emerging forms of community management.

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Biennales in Palestine: Thinking Art and Making Art

Khaldun Bshara

The Riwaq Biennale marked Riwaq’s new approach and image of openness, networking and dialogue, not only with cultural heritage organisations, but also with the community at large, locally and internationally. This essay sheds light on the biennales in Palestine that have a responsive/radical perception of space (where things happen) and time (when things happen and for how long), and against the practices of artistic production and biennales that lend themselves to already formulated agendas. I critically engage with the Riwaq Biennale (RB) and Qalandiya International (Qi) to further speculate on the role of biennales and art in changing not only the content and form, but also the management modalities and the managerial structures of events in the public sphere. Biennales in Palestine, I claim, have a management twist to the artistic events and artistic production, and are therefore permanently oscillating between creative (thinking) and non-creative (making) artistic work. This twist acknowledges the inherent dialectical relation in the field of artistic production that strives to alternately celebrate and conceal the art and the practical world behind it. This turn also tries to make visible the structures that shape the lives and the practices of people, while making use of symbolic enterprise to point at the debilitating conditions that the artists, the managers and the audiences alike have to endure.

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Managing Collaborative Critique in Times of Financialisation Capitalism

Erling Björgvinsson

Management is an integral aesthetic-political-economic aspect of design practices, whether conducted as research or as part of a professional practice. It includes situated coordination of partnerships made up of heterogeneous socio-material entities. Such coordination through modes of assembly and decision-making is essential when devising more democratic forms of co-design and collaborative critique.

The article compares and contrasts assemblies that operate within dominant social systems through consensual processes with assemblies that operate outside of the dominant regime. Those that operate within dominant social systems through affirmative and additive critique have difficulty accounting for substantial change, and at best can engage in minor reformist aesthetic-political changes. Additive and affirmative ways of working also tend to hide the violence they produce. Those that operate outside of the dominant social system by negating, delinking and disaffirming established infrastructures through the development of new formations – re-assembling and re-infrastructuring – account for the violence of their critique and can empower marginalised positions. The article also contrasts collaborative critique through assemblies that focus on local dense actor-networks with those that acknowledge meso-level issues related to wider aesthetic-political-economic relations. What type of assemblies are devised, how does the scope of the site of intervention and the level of analytical abstraction orient what aspects of the issue worked on can be re-made?

Duamdong Table Game, detail.

Master Plan for Duamdong

Dari Bae and Apolonija Šušteršic

Documenting their collaboration Master Plan for Duamdong, which took place as part of the 2016 Gwangju Biennial, Apolonija Šušteršič and Dari Bae accompany images of the project’s urban housing and community centre location with notes on the process they developed of working with inhabitants of an area of Gwangju that is relatively underdeveloped in the context of recent housing and communal facility provision in the city. Šušteršič and Bae’s contribution is contextualised by an introduction by Myung-Rae Cho.

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After Practice: A Personal reflection

Barbara Czarniawska

My text contains more questions than answers, and the answers are only speculative. My first question is: “Whose turn to practice took place in 2001?” The text contains a short review of various meanings of the term in different disciplines. From there I move to the second question, which I find especially relevant for my discipline: management and organisation studies. “Is ‘reflective practitioner’ an oxymoron?” I set Niklas Luhmann against Donald Schön in my search for an answer. The third question is: “How can bridges between practitioners and theoreticians of management be (re)built?”