By Samuel A. Chambers
Political and financial types of society frequently function at a degree of abstraction so excessive that the connections among them, and their hyperlinks to tradition, are past succeed in. Bearing Society in Mind demanding situations those disciplinary obstacles and proposes an alternate framework—the social formation.
The conception of social formation demonstrates how the cloth of society is made from threads which are at the same time monetary, political, and cultural. Drawing at the paintings of theorists together with Marx, Althusser, Butler, Žižek and Rancière, Bearing Society in Mind makes the most powerful case attainable for the theoretical value and political necessity of this idea. It at the same time demonstrates that the social formation proves to be a really specific and bizarre form of “concept”—it isn't a mirrored image or version of the area, yet is definitively and concretely sure up with and constitutive of the realm.
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Additional info for Bearing Society in Mind: Theories and Politics of the Social Formation
Mitchell’s work provides such a powerful example because his project is exactly to retell the story of the emergence and transformation of modern democracy. He does so not only by showing the connection between social and political forms, on the one hand, and material forms, on the other, but also by tracking the changes made to those social and political forms when the material interconnections are altered. In making these claims, I mean to suggest neither that all Deleuzean analysis is narrow or overly focused on the particular nor that my own project returns to an “arboreal” model.
The reason is quite simple: even the empirical, and sometimes especially the empirical, is thoroughly normative. In saying this I am not making anything like an original argument: Charles Taylor, William Connolly, Sheldon Wolin, and a host of other prominent thinkers long ago argued persuasively that all “facts” are value laden (Wolin 1969; Taylor 1985; Connolly 1993 ). No social scientist, no scientist, no citizen, and no mere observer can describe without also evaluating. To put it differently, to establish the empirically “given” is both to operate within and simultaneously to reproduce and alter a matrix with normative orientations and spin.
And Mitchell’s technique for helping his readers to rethink these crises is to name a new object that he thinks captures them both (and captures them at their intersection). As Mitchell formulates the point, his is not a book about “democracy and oil”; it is, instead, “a book about democracy as oil” (Mitchell 2011: 4). To think democracy as oil is to think a whole new object: carbon democracy. That sentence in which Mitchell names this object sounds straightforward enough, but in the little phrase “democracy as oil” Mitchell declares—or so I here contend—not just a new understanding of the relation between carbon and democracy, but a whole new understanding (both historical and theoretical) of democracy itself.
Bearing Society in Mind: Theories and Politics of the Social Formation by Samuel A. Chambers