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Ambient Rhetoric Notes April 28

Rickert, Thomas. Ambient Rhetoric: The Attunements of Rhetorical Being. University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013.


Image of ecology by Daniel Mirante.

Deep Ecology by Daniel Mirante. I used the image for both the Ecology notes and the Ambient Rhetoric notes because the interconnectivity of all things seems vital to both.




Thomas Rickert’s Ambient Rhetoric: The Attunements of Rhetorical Being is a significant reenvisioning of the landscape of rhetorical theory that attempts to uncover and recover aspects of rhetorical theory (particularly nonhuman aspects) that have been marginalized. Rickert’s critique of the arbitrary dichotomy of human/environment, human/objects, subject/object, reminded me of reminded me of the idea that I heard so often in my religious upbringing that one should be in the world but not of the world. Rickert counters this kind of dichomotmous thin king when he says that “we do not have a body; we are bodily. We do not have a world; we are worldly” (10). Writing a frakentheory that combines concepts from a number of disciplines, including music, computing, media studies, philosophy, science, and AI, Rickert argues that the environment (not simply the rhetorical situation) must be attuned to. (I use attuned because attunement because it is a key idea in Rickert’s text, and when I started to type “attened to” I realized why it is such a key idea. If we simply attend to the ambient environment of rhetoric, we may just give it a cursory glance, but if what we are doing is attuning to the ambient environment within which rhetoric exists, then we begin to understand how rhetoric is a manifestation of our being in the world.) By attuning to the ambient environment, we begin to understand that agency does not belong only to humans. Indeed, rhetoric is not only practiced by humans. Rickert asserts that the world is not simply a world of involvements, but that the world is itself involved in involvements (162). He proposes a new definition of rhetoric: “rhetoric is a responsive way of revealing the world for others, responding to and put forth through affective, symbolic, and material means, so as to (at least potentially) reattune or otherwise transform how others inhabit the world to an extent that calls for some action (which can include, of course, steadfastness, refusal, or even apathy)” (162). So rather than simply persuading others, Rickert suggests that the use of rhetoric reveals our being in the world and asks us to do something in response to our being in the world. Concepts that have been ignored, such as the chora, which shows “how ideas and world come together a grace us with a powerfully destabilizing concept that unseats the dichotomy between nature and artifice,” (56), and the role of place in kairos, are vital to an understanding of rhetoric as ambient.

As I was reading Rickert, most of my line of thinking about how Rockert’s theory was directly related to either LLLI or to my research into feminist understandings of breastfeeding and the lactating body, so my questions and quote responses will draw connections between those issues and Rickert’s theory.


What does an understanding of rhetoric as ambient suggest about place in rhetorics focused on breastfeeding? What implications does it have for breastfeeding scholarship?

As I was reading Rickert’s discussion of kairos and the problem posed by the traditional rhetorical understanding of kairos, that it is concerned with time and decorum, rather than place, it occurred to me that I have seen this attention to time/decorum and place in discussions of the role of the lactation room in a university. Rickert says, “I am trying to embed kairos more concretely in place, to see what happens when we attend to kairos’s material emplacement and unfolding and not just timeliness or decorum. I argue that without a more materialist understanding of emplacement, kairos is an empty concept” (76). In “legally Public but Privately Practiced: Segregating the Lactating Body,” by LM Rose, explores the way in which the location of the lactation room on the campus of Ohio University frames the lactating body as other. I would argue that the action of the university of establishing a lactation room was as rhetorical as it was practical (if not more so). Rose’ article explores the othering that results from placing the only single occupant lactation room on the university campus in a remote area far away from faculty offices. Of course, one could argue that the establishment of a lactation room at all is a positive sign of the normalization of breastfeeding, but is it enough that it exists? What about where it exists within the context? Who has access to it? Certainly the decision to establish a lactation room was timely and considered to be appropriate, but it seems likely that those involved in the establishment of the room did not consider the implications of the location of the room. The establishment of the room itself seem progressive and a woman and mother-centered act, but when we examine the place of the room, we see that it plays a large role in the queering of the breastfeeding body. (See the above video for example of lactation rooms being placed in remote locations on campuses.) I can’t at this moment think of a more effective example of the role that place plays in rhetoric. Depending on the place of the act of breastfeeding, it may be considered a purely nurturing act, or it may be considered an act of defiance (such as at a nurse-in).



Quote Response: “Particularly illustrative of such embedding is the mother-child relationship. Choric interaction is the cradle of their relationship, since symbolic communication must grow out of this more originary, presymbolic bond” (57).

As I read about chora and the way in which it transfoems our understanding of beginnings and creation, particularly when I read this quote, I started to think about what it means to have this kind of presymbolic relationship. The mother’s voice and touch create a ambient environment that provides a nurturing, safe comforting space for the baby. Real comfort is being provided, and real needs are being met; at the same time, the baby is coming to associate mother, her voice and touch  with safety and comfort. This relationship is a begging, a “a matrix of all becoming” (55), as it is within this environment that the begins to safely learning and associate things with each other.

When I read this passage, I immediately thought of a quote by a child psychologist that is included in the 5th, 6th, and 7th chapters of LLLI’s bible, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding:

It has been determined that children who do not have the benefit of a single, sustained contact with a loving mother or mother-figure for at least the first three years of their lives, will—depending upon the degree of deprivation—manifest a diminished capacity to love others, impaired intellectual powers, and an ability to control their impulses, particularly in the area of aggression. (179)


This quote suggests that without the ambient environment provided by a mother’s touch and voice, the child never integrates successfully in environment. The presymbolic bond was not as firmly established as it might have been, and therefore the baby is never as successful at creating a symbolic understanding of the worlds as she or he might have been.


Quote Response: “The thing matters to rhetoric insofar as rhetoric not only attends to things but now acknowledges that things are part of rhetoric’s condition of possibility (208).


Once again I see breastfeeding and the rhetoric that surrounds it as a perfect opportunity to discuss the Rickert’s theory. This time, I felt that the discussion of materiality provides an excellent way to explore the way in which things (the bottle and the breast pump) have had an absolutely vital role in the rhetoric of breastfeeding, while their role in creating is always fully acknowledged. The quote above makes it clear that things play a significant role in making rhetoric possible, and this is certainly the case for LLLI’s rhetoric surrounding breastfeeding and the attachment parenting. In fact, we could argue that technological innovations (formula, the bottle, the pump), necessitated LLLI’s argument, since these innovations made it possible for non-mothers to feed an infant. (Certainly manual expression and wet nurses also made this possible, but it became incredibly easy with these innovations.) LLLI was formed at a time (1956) when formula was preferable to breast milk because it was believed that formula could improve upon breast milk, and the scientist studying breast milk were  often applying what they learned about breast milk to the improvement of formula. The properties and value of breast milk was being examined in a disembodied way. They were effectively divorcing the ambient environment of infant feeding from the act of feeding, and it was in part this loss of the non-food properties of the breastfeeding relationship that caused the seven founders of LLLI to come together to share their experiences and understandings of breastfeeding.

The core philosophy LLLI is contained within ten statements that emphasize the benefits of breastfeeding:

Mothering through breastfeeding is the most natural and effective way of understanding and satisfying the needs of the baby.

  • Mother and baby need to be together early and often to establish a satisfying relationship and an adequate milk supply.
  • In the early years the baby has an intense need to be with his mother which is as basic as his need for food.
  • Breast milk is the superior infant food.
  • For the healthy, full-term baby, breast milk is the only food necessary until the baby shows signs of needing solids, about the middle of the first year after birth.
  • Ideally the breastfeeding relationship will continue until the baby outgrows the need.
  • Alert and active participation by the mother in childbirth is a help in getting breastfeeding off to a good start.
  • Breastfeeding is enhanced and the nursing couple sustained by the loving support, help, and companionship of the baby’s father. A father’s unique relationship with his baby is an important element in the child’s development from early infancy.
  • Good nutrition means eating a well-balanced and varied diet of foods in as close to their natural state as possible.
  • From infancy on, children need loving guidance which reflects acceptance of their capabilities and sensitivity to their feelings.

Several of these statements reflect the idea that breastfeeding is relational, that it is an ambient environment in which the mother nurtures the child.

Innovations in objects related to infant feeding (bottles, breast pumps, and formula) as well as innovations in food storage made it possible to view infant feeding as purely nutritive rather than also nurturing. Much of LLLI’s rhetoric centers around countering the affordances that infant-feeding related objects provide. LLLI’s rhetoric is not solely crafted to convince mother’s that breast milk is superior to formula, but also that the mother-child relationship created through the bond of breastfeeding is as important as the nutritive value of breast milk. Formula necessitated attention to the components of breast milk and the nutritive value; breast pumps, which allow women to work outside the home and leave their babies, underscore the idea that breast milk is disembodied. This necessitated LLLI’s argument for attachment parenting and the need of the child for the mother. The bottle necessitated the “back to the breast” rhetoric that explains that bottles result in nipple confusion.

Image of a breast pump and bottles.

Avent Isis breast pump and bottles kit. Objects necessitating (or making possible) LLLI’s attachment parenting rhetoric. the

For my Feminist Rhetoric class this semester I did a rhetorical analysis of changes between the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th editions of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, and I found that in earlier editions LLLI seemed reluctant to address the use of those objects (bottles, pumps, formula supplements) that make it’s rhetoric necessary. In fact, the 5th edition encouraged mothers to have babysitters give a few bottles as possible so that the baby would want to nurse from the mother’s breast when she returned home from work. Late editions dropped this advice. Later editions, particularly the 8th, gave advice for using a bottle and pumping milk. I think that this was important for LLLI because by ignoring the objects that necessitated their rhetoric in the first place, the rhetoric of LLLI created an either/or dichotomy: either you feed your child our way, or you don’t. By discussing how to use the objects in support of a mother-child relationship that, as closely is possible for the particular mother and child, resembles the one espoused by LLLI, the organization provides a middle way for mothers who must work.


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Stuart Hall and Louis Althusser Reading Notes, April 21

Hall, Stuart. “Encoding, Decoding.” Social Theory: Power and Identity in the Global Era (2010): 569.


In the article, Stuart Hall describes how messages are produced, circulated, distributed, and reproduced in four stages that are “relatively autonomous” but also scaffolded. Encoding and decoding are determinant moments in the communicative exchange. The event must become a story before it can become a communicative event. The communicative process of television is described as follows: production (which is a complex negotiation of elements internal to the system constructing the message and elements external to the system) constructs the message (479) and discursive rules of language are used to circulate the message through the employment of a code (479). The symmetry of the encoded and decoded message depends upon the structural relations and differences between the encoder and the decoder. Distortions are caused by a lack of equivalence between the two sides of the communication exchange (480). Discursive knowledge depends upon the representation of the “articulation of language on real relations and conditions” (481). Widely distributed codes become naturalized within a particular society (480). The distinction between denotation and connotation is analytical rather than a binary of fixed meaning vs. fluid or conventionalized meaning (482). It is at the connotative level that “situational ideologies alter and transform signification” (482). Denotation and connotation allow us to look at “the different levels at which ideologies and discourses intersect” (482). Connotation contains “fragments of ideology,” while denotation fixes a sign by certain complex codes (483). When messages are decoded, or reproduced, there are three possible ways of perceiving the message (selective perception): the dominant hegemonic position, the negotiated code (which looks at both the dominant view and an alternative level), and the oppositional code, which decodes the opposite message from what the encoder intended.


Althusser, Louis. “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses (Notes Towards an Investigation).” The Anthropology of the State: A Reader (2006): 86-111.

Key Concepts

I decided to do list key concepts here because Althusser’s dense writing made it easier for me to pull nuggets from. Overall, Althusser is describing the way in which the state exerts control over people through both ideological and repressive apparatuses, which are interdependent upon one another.

  • Social formations arise from the dominant means of production.
  • the production process sets the existing relations within production to work
  • social formations must reproduce the conditions of production as they produce, so must reproduce the productive forces and the existing relations of production
  • it is necessary to reproduce the material conditions of production
  • the reproduction of labor power is the reproduction of the productive forces
  • the reproduction of labor power requires the reproduction of submission to the established order (submission to the ruling ideology or practice of the ideology)
  • Marxist typography advantage: base (economic base) and superstructure (politico-legal and ideology)edifice reveals questions of determination; obliges us to pose the theoretical problem of “derivatory” effective peculiar to the superstructure
  • disadvantage: it remains descriptive
  • State Apparatus defines the state as a force of repressive execution and intervention; it includes government, administration, military, security, courts, prisons
  • repressive state apparatus functions by violence
  • state power and state apparatus must be distinguished
  • class struggle concerns state power and consequently the use of state apparatus by the classes holding state power as a function of their class
  • the proletariat must seize state power in order to destroy the bourgeois state apparatus and replace it with a different proletarian state apparatus and then set in motion a radical process to destroy the state
  • proposes the ideological state apparatus separate from repressive state apparatus
  • ISA realities presenting themselves in the form of specialized institutions including religious ISA, educational, family, legal, political, trade-union, communications, and cultural
  • the difference between RSA and ISA is: there is 1 RSA, but many ISAs in a society; RSA is public, while ISA is public and private; RSA functions by violence; ISA functions by ideology
  • RSA is primarily repressive and secondarily ideological; ISA is primarily ideological and secondarily repressive
  • so, perhaps RSA and ISA can be woven together
  • ISAs function together under the ruling class that uses RSA
  • ISA may be a stake and a site of class struggle
  • so, all state apparatuses function by repression and ideology, but in different combinations
  • RSA is a centralized whole
  • multiple, distinct, relatively autonomous
  • RSA is secured by representatives of the classes in power, while ISAs secured by ruling ideology
  • ISAs reproduce the relations of production
  • each ISA contributes to a single result in the way proper to it
  • concert is dominated by a single score occasionally disturbed by contradictions
  • The school is the ISA with the most dominant role
  • ideology is a pure dream
  • ideology has no history
  • ideology represents the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence
  • ideology has a material existence

Question: What is the role of ideology in LLLI?

As I was reading Althusser, I considered how I could apply the concept of ISA to LLLI. ISAs apparently are primarily ideological and secondarily they are repressive, as opposed to RSA, that operate primarily by repression. LLLI originally formed in response to the ideology of the medical establishment, which had begun to view formula as potentially superior to breast milk. The pediatric medical establishment is an ISA, but I believe that the field of medicine is much more repressive than the ideology of LLLI, yet LLLI does contain some repressive elements. Medicine is governed by regulatory bodies like the American Academy of Pediatricians. The field is regulated within, and it is given much respect as an authority. As a top-down network, with physicians at the top of the authoritative chain and nursing mothers at the bottom; therefore, as an ISA, medicine has a significant amount of repressive element in it as well. Attachment parenting, an important concept in LLLI, and the peer-to-peer organization, give mothers much more autonomy and equality; however, there is still a repressive element, because LLLI asks women to behave in another way. The oppositional viewpoint applies an oppositional reading of the message that is encoded in the discourse of LLLI. The oppositional reading of LLLI is that it is anti-feminist, and it excludes the concerns of single mothers and those from lower on the socioeconomic scale. So the organization is racialized, classist, and anti-feminist in this view.


Hall's three positions of decoding:  dominant, negotiated, oppositional.

Hall’s three positions of decoding: dominant, negotiated, oppositional.

Question: How can we apply encoding and decoding, particularly the the three hypothetical positions from which decodings occur, to the history of the organization of LLLI?

Part of the framework of LLLI is the 10 core philosophies that focus primarily on the needs of the baby and the ideal mother-child relationship that will ensure that the baby’s physical and emotional needs are meet. The practices and relational dynamics that LLLI has emphasized in the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (the LLLI manual) has been coded from the dominant-hegemonic position of the original founders in 1950s, that the women who would be involved in the organization and that would benefit from its advice would be white, middle-class, married stay-at home moms. The manual even included a chapter about the child’s relationship to the father and included a note in the introduction that the manual assumed that the mother would be married because that is the familial model that is most conducive to the support of breastfeeding. Until the 1980s, LLLI took a hard line on trying to attempt to convince mothers not to work. In the 1980s the LLLI newsletter for leaders began discussing working with employed mothers and suggesting techniques, but stated that making accommodations for working mothers was optional in meetings. Working mothers, single mothers, or others who did not meet the characteristics of the ideal mother according to LLLI had to negotiate the message they received from LLLI in order to understand how they could employ the practices that LLLI recommends from the positions in which the exist. These mothers had to “make a more negotiated application to ‘local positions'” (486).

Quote: “What are called ‘distortions’ or ‘misunderstandings’ arise precisely from the “lack of equivalence” between the two sides in the communication exchange” (Hall 480).

The discussion of symmetry here shows why the encoded message sent from LLLI and the decoded message received from LLLI may differ drastically so that while LLLI constructs itself as a feminist and inclusive organization, it can be perceived as exclusionary and anti-feminist. When women decoding the message are symmetrical with the ideal position of a mother, as LLLI frames her, then the message is easy for that woman to receive and to decode the dominant-hegemonic position that I discuss in the above answer to the question, but the negotiated and exclusionary decodings result from the lack of symmetry of the ideal mother and the real situation of the woman on the decoding end.

Quote Response: “If the ISAs ‘function’ massively and predominantly by ideology, what unifies their diversity is precisely this functioning, insofar as the ideology by which they function is always in fact, unified, despite its diversity and its contradictions, beneath the ruling ideology, which is the ideology of ‘the ruling class’. Given that the ruling class in principle holds State power (openly or more often by means of alliances between classes or class fractions, and therefore has at its disposal the (Repressive) State Apparatus, we can accept that this same ruling class is active in the Ideological State Apparatuses insofar as it is ultimately the ruling ideology which is realized in the Ideological State Apparatuses, precisely in its contradictions.”

I was reflecting on the interdependence of the ISA and the RSA, and the above video really helped me understand how blurry the lines are between the ISA and the RSA. It seems that they are very dependent upon one another. In the video of Ron Strickland discussing Althusser’s concept of ideology, he says that, “The effectiveness of ideological state apparatuses in maintaining control over society depends in part on the foundation of repressive state apparatuses which will be called in in cases of necessity. On the other hand, the repressive state apparatuses cannot function without the ideological state apparatuses. The policeman or the soldier or the prison guard has to be convinced that he is acting in the best interest of society as he carries out his duties.”   I was searching for an analogy to use, and the one that came to mind was the World of Warcraft, particularly the Pandaren race with their ISA constructed around ideas of harmony and balance. Pandarens value peace, creativity, harmony, spirituality, nature, and s strong relationship between the natural and the spiritual. So, a Pandaren needs to be convinced that whatever cause he is fighting against is a threat to his society, perhaps to the harmony of society, and then he/she is convinced to stop meditating and drinking Pandaren ale and use Pandaren military tactics, which are very much related to the ideas of harmony and balance, to fight the forces threatening their society. Certainly there are much more complex real world examples of this, but the simplicity of the game (which is rather complex but not nearly so much as the real world) made the relationship between ISA and RSA easier to examine.

Pandaren warrior meditating.

Pandaren Monk Zen Meditation, representing the ISAs of spirituality and associated harmony.




Pandaren warrior RSA.

Pandaren martial arts and military organization is the RSA that supports the Pandaren ISA of harmony, peace, balance, nature, etc… when it is threatened.



MindMap April 20, 2014: Death of the Popplet



“You have 0 popplets.”

For this week’s MindMap, I continued creating nodes that would provide linkages to all theories and deterratorilize  the concepts that I previously had centered around readings.

Work on revising MindMap after if seems that everything that I had saved in my Popplet has been completely wiped from my account.

Work on revising MindMap after if seems that everything that I had saved in my Popplet has been completely wiped from my account.

LLLI Theory Scaffolding Assignment


Which 2 – 4 theories are you choosing and why?

  • Foucault’s theory from the Archaeology of Knowledge allows me to look at the way in which networks for from organizing statements such as LLLI’s 10 core philosophies. The tree of enunciative formation allows me to look at the hierarchical arrangement of the organization and the way that the organizing philosophies are generalized at the center (the guiding principles) and the philosophies are increasingly more specific as you move out to the branches from the tree or root of the organization to the summit, which is the individual relationships between mother/baby/leader and mother/baby specifically. Feedback loops in the system allow me to discuss how feedback from the summit may affect the core philosophies.
  • Deleuze and Guattari’s discussion of the rhizome allows me to look at the fluid nature of the LLLI organization and the way in which each new member of the organization impacts the nature of the organization. I think that it will allow me to look closely at the way in which LLLI has adapted it’s rhetoric to attempt to welcome a more diverse group of people into the organization. It also allows me to examine the way in which the group has re-examined its philosophies and adapted ideas or re-iterated some ideas.
  • Rhetorical Situation theory allows me to look at the way in which LLLI was formed in response to exigencies (whose role in the rhetorical situation is debated by Vatz and Bitzer) that were perceived by the founding members. Biesecker allows me to examine the was in which difference plays a role in is manifested in the rhetoric of LLLI and the way that the nodes in the network have fluid identities that are influence by and influence the network.
  • The Rise of the Network Society by Manuel Castells allows us to examine the way in which LLLI is a network within a larger network in society, that there is a vast or endless number of nodes in the network of LLLI that are not evident from a mapping of the organization, the role that sitauatedness plays in the agency of the network nodes, and it allows me to examine the simultaneous horizontal and vertical organization of the network.


How are they similar enough that you can justify getting them to work together? How do they fill each other’s gaps?


  • Foucault’s discussion of the organization of networks is similar to Deleuze and Guattari’s discussion of rhizomes in that both theories describe the organization of networks, but they have widely differing views on that organization. (Foucault sees it as hiercahical and Guattari sees it as fluid network with no hierarchical pattern.) Foucault’s theory is good for analyzing the formal, intentional of the organization, but it leaves gaps in that it isn’t as useful for describing the ways in the network is fluid as members join and leave, new problems/exigencies arise.
  • Bissecker and the theory of rhizomes by Deleuze and Guattari are similar in that they both emphasize the fluidity of the network. Difference seems also to be very important to both, as Deleuze and Guattari say that the network is characterized by determinations, magnitudes, and dimensions (8), but Deleuze and Guattari say that there are no subjectivities, while Bisecker says that subjectivity influences the network and vice versa. So Biesecker allows us to look at the way in which individual subjectivities influence the network and it allows us to challenge the strict hierarchical organization of the network along with Foucault.
  • Castells and Deleuze and Guattari both examine the ways in which hierarchical organization (the root tree) can exist within a more horizontal organization (rhizomes), but Castells gives us the tools to identify the ways in which specific concepts like time, space, and flows, all impact the network. Deleuze and Guattari present an incredibly abstract view if the rhizome.
  • Like Foucault, Bizter, and Vatz are all useful for examining how the network was originally formed. The network was the response to exigencies (Bitzer and Vatz) that required the formation of the statement/the rhetorical response. All three theories need other theories applied, Biesecker, Castells, Deleuze and Guattari, to examine the way in which the organization is continually reshaped after the initial organization. Foucault’s feedback loop is useful, but it cannot truly account for the multiple directions from which subjects and agency, both inside and outside the organization, shape the organization?

How do these theories align with how you position yourself as a scholar?

  • Epistemologically, I characterize myself as a social constructivist, and I feel that Castells and Biesecker in particular lend themselves to a social constructivist framework as Biesecker looks at how agency impacts the network and vice versa, and Castells examines how societal concepts of space and time shape the organization of networks.
  • I feel that strong hierarchical models such as Foucault’s model are limiting because as a scholar I like to look at peer-to-peer social structures and these are often a challenge to hierarchical models even if they are situated within hierarchical networks like the formal LLLI organization.
  • Of course, I feel that I am a rhetorician, so rhetorical situation theory is very useful and appealing, but exploring Biesecker, rhizomes, and the network society has opened my eyes to the complexity of such situations that is not readily apparent when one simply examines exigency.

How do these theories align with your own biases and background (the reason you came to this project in the first place)?


  • I came to this project expecting to look at the internal organization of LLLI and how the various nodes within the network operate. This is why Foucault was my first choice for a case study because the tree of enunciative formation seemed to offer the ability to do this.
  • I also wanted to look at why the organization was formed in the first place, it’s mission and goals, and rhetorical situation allowed me to do that.
  • Reading theorists like Bisecker, Deleuze and Guatarri, and Castells helped me see the way in which my view of the whole of the network was limited. I now know that it is a network within a network with many competing agencies, exigencies, subjectivities influencing the fluidity of the network, and yet there is still some hierarchical structure there in the official organization, though it contains some horizontal structure within it as well.

Reading Notes April 14

Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. “Introduction: Rhizome.” Transatlantic Literary Studies (2007): 226-31. Essay and General Literature Index (H.W. Wilson).

Deleuze and Guattari

In the introduction to the text, Deleuze and Guattari challenge the notion of the tree as a metaphor for the way in which things exist within relationship with each other. It seems that the tree is problematic because when used as a metaphor, the tree must be replicated. The organization or design of the tree is traced in constructing an understanding of the object being studied. Looking at the object as a rhizome allows one to map the organization of the object because it does not attempt to dictate the shape of the object of study. According to Deleuze and Guattari, a rhizome has no beginning or end; rather, it is the in-between. Rhizomes overcome the problems associated with attempts to use linguistics to understand connections between language and statements (7). The rhizome endlessly creates connections (7). Rhizomes are characterized by multiplicity, which has no object or subject, but determinations, magnitudes, and dimensions (8). Rhizomes allow for increasing of territory being examined through deterritorialization (11). Because of the possible multiplicities of the rhizome and the multiple entrances and exits, it is possible that the root-tree exists within the rhizome (14). The brain is a rhizome. The rhizome is acentered. It is able to connect a point to any other point, and it is composed of dimensions or directions in motion (21).


Deleuze and Guattari vs. Foucault

In the above video, John David Ebert says that Deleuze and Guattari craft an anti-philosophy to challenge all philosophies that have linear argumentation. What about Foucault, and how does this relate to Foucault? Well, it seems to me that the concept of the rhizome is a direct challenge to the concept of the “tree of enunciative derivation”. Foucault’s tree of enunciative derivation starts with a base made of the statements that contain the rules of formation of the tree, with statements also at the summit. This concept is challenged by Deleuze and Guttari because the rhizome does not plot a point or fix an order as the tree metaphor does (7). According to Deleuze and Guattari, the “rhizome ceaselessly establishes connections between semiotic chains, organizations of power, and circumstances relative to the arts, sciences, and social struggles” (7). My interpretation is that rather than being guided by statements that form hard and fast rules for the formation, but that the relationship between the rhizome and the language is fluid. Foucault’s tree of enunciative derivation for me was a  seemed to be a revelation when I read it, and now I can see the ways in which the theory was problematic when I applied it to LLLI in my first case study. In that case study I discussed the organizations core philosophies as statements that formed the tree of the organization, but the theory had gaps that could not account for the fluid way in which the organization dealt with problems that arose as new members joined and the organization was forced to re-envision what their statements meant and what statements that members of the organization and others made challenged the practices of the organization and required a new unity to operate as a organization. As Deleuze and Guattari say, “unity is consistently thwarted and obstructed in the object, while a new type of unity triumphs” (6).


What the heck is a rhizome anyway?

Image of a rhizome.

Image of a rhizome.


Image of the rhizome of a bamboo plant.

The rhizome of a bamboo plant.

These images were very useful in helping me understand the difference between a tree and a rhizome. A tree can only grow in one direction with one trunk, while rhizomes can result in a number of growths originating in the same space. It seems that what the rhizome physical offers is the deterritorialization that Deleuze and Guattari discuss. They say, “you start by delimiting a first line consisting of circles of convergence around successive singularities: then you see whether inside that line new circles of convergence establish themselves, with new points located outside the limits and in other directions” (11). These rhizomes seem to be doing just that.

What’s ecology (and neurobiology) got to do with it? (QUOTE RESPONSE)

“Many people have a tree growing in their heads, but the brain itself is much more grass than a tree” (15).

While this quote is referencing the actual physical organization of the brain and the two kinds of memory, this harkens back to the concept of the ecology of the mind. Bateson’s Ecology of the mind challenged the concept of the individual mind. The concept of the individual mind ignores the environment of the individual. Bateson claims that there is a need to revise our thinking about mental/communication processes because the mind (internal pathway) is different than the cause and effect system of sciences (external pathway). The idea of the mind as a rhizome is compatible with Bateson’s view that the identity of the mind is bound with the social forces which surround it.


Scott, John. Social Network Analysis : A Handbook. London; Newbury Park, Calif.: SAGE Publications, 1991.

John Scott Quotes and Q & A

“Lewin’s early work on group behavior was published in a book that outlined his view that group was seen as determined by the field of social forces in which the group was located (Lewin 1936). A social group, he argued, exists in a field: a social ‘space’ that comprises the group together with its surroundings and environment” (11).

Well, well, well… if it isn’t a rhizome. Here I see connections with Deleuze and Guattari, as well as with ecology and Castells’ space of flows. The idea that group behavior is determined socially is very reminiscent of the distributed mind we talk about in ecology. Scott goes on to say what matters here is not the external characteristic of the environment, but what is perceived about the environment. While the environment may offer affordances, those within the environment may not see all affordances. They are aware of only the perceived affordances. (Though what they do not see still very much impacts them.) Also, fields are full of rhizomes, so what is being described here is reminiscent of the social organization impacted by rhizomes. Of course, we are also dealing with the concept of “space”. The environment is made up of “elements within a single field of relations” (11). Isn’t that the space of flows?

“It is undoubtedly the case that social network analysis embodies a particular theoretical orientation toward the structure of the social world and that it is, therefore, linked with structural theories of action. But it seems unlikely that any one substantive theory should be regarded as embodying the essence of social network analysis” (Scott 37).

Well, now I can finally stop questioning which theory is the RIGHT theory. It seems there is not RIGHT theory; instead, it seems that what counts is the method of analysis rather than the ONE theory.

Rainie, Harrison, and Barry Wellman. Networked : The New Social Operating System. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2012.

Key Concepts from Raine and Wellman

  • widespread connectivity as the result of ease of travel, affordable telecommunciations and computing, peace and the spread of trade resulted in commercial and social connections,
  • weaker group boundaries: households have become networks,structured voluntary organizations are replaced with informal civic networks, culture is distributed via more outlets and more devices
  • there has been an increase in personal autonomy due to flexibility of work; society is less bounded by ethnicity,m gender, religion, and sexual orientation; pensions decline and IRAs replace them
  • people live in networks rather than groups
  • all groups have precise boundaries for inclusion and exclusion (35)
  • “groupiness” is perceived as bolstering power
  • choices are not made individually of others


MindMap April 14

ENGL 894 MindMap
For this week’s MindMap, I decided to focus on adding Catsells’ concepts of the technologically mediated network society, the space of flows, and timeless time. I added nodes labeled “Timeless Time,” “Space of Flows,” and “Information as Commodity.” From each of these nodes, I branched off popplets to shed more light on these ideas, but I also connected these concepts to concepts of related to the mind (such as ecology), affordances, and computer networks.

I connected the concept of the space of flows to the node discussing the differences between the individual mind and the dispersed ecological mind. I connected the concept of timeless time to the idea of affordances, because it is technology that affords the suspension of time, which then affords a more global and rapid economy. Because of the way in which technology affords the ability to suppress glacial time and the way in which it has become essential to human existence as a way to share information, which is the basis of the new economy, I connected technology of the network society to the concept of affordances.

Case Study 3: LLLI in the Network Society

Image of packaged, labeled breast milk from

Packaged donated breast milk. According to Boyer, donated breast milk is sold to hospitals for $35 an ounce by Prolacta.

In previous case studies, I looked at the enunciative formation of LLLI, rhetorical situation surrounding the development of LLLI, the genres that are employed by the organization, but in the previous case studies, I have not explored how the organization itself is a node within a larger societal network. Therefore, I began looking for articles that address the way in which the work and focus of LLLI is shaped and is a reaction to the context of the larger network of which it is a part. This network includes those with an interest in infant feeding, including medicine, science, and manufacturing industries. While “Medicalizing to Demedicalize: Lactation Consultants and the (De) Medicalization of Breastfeeding,” by Jennifer M.C. Torres, does not specifically examine LLLI, it does shed some light on work that LLLI does. Torres explains in the article that lactation consultants “provide a unique lens for the complexity of medicalization because they are positioned at the crossroads of medicalization and demedicalization. The IBCLC certification originated from a combination of breastfeeding advocacy groups that resisted medicalization of breastfeeding and the contemporary medicalization of breastfeeding that emphasizes the nutritional properties and health benefits of breast milk” (165). Some lactation consultants create or lead breastfeeding peer-to-peer support groups (such as LLLI groups) in which medical control is challenged “by providing a setting that values breastfeeding women’s experiential knowledge” (163). Lactation consultants, in order to demedicalize breastfeeding, must also medicalize it since they operate within the realm of medicine, often working at hospitals. Much of LLLI’s work seems to be focused on developing mothers’ autonomy and challenging the medicalization of breastfeeding, which has resulted in views of breast milk as a product (163), the technological management of breastfeeding (164), and frequent dissemination of misinformation of breastfeeding by medical professionals (164). The concept of breast milk as a product is so pervasive in medicine and science that Kate Boyer was able to use it to “propose a new framework for how geographers might conceptualize mobile biosubstances” in the article “Of Care and Commodities: Breast Milk and the New Politics of Mobile Bisosubstances Unlike lactation consultants, LLLI does not have to walk a fine line between demedicalizing and medicalizing breastfeeding. In “Rhetorical Agency, Resistance, and the Disciplinary Rhetorics of Breastfeeding,” Amy Koerber explains that, “In the words of one La Leche League leader, to breastfeed a baby in U.S. society a woman has to ‘buck the system’”(93). According to Koerber, “By consulting La Leche League, which resists mainstream medical discourse as well as broadly accepted social and cultural norms, a woman is empowered to resist the cultural norm that forbids public breastfeeding” (97). So, it is clear that what LLLI offers to breastfeeding mothers is the ability to resist the way in which medical discourse and the focus on breast milk as product has framed the nursing mother and the breastfeeding relationship.

Manuel Castell’s The Rise of the Network Society allows us to view LLLI as a network within a network. While most of the theories that I have examined so far have looked at the inner workings of LLLI and the way in which nodes within the network of the organization affect the organization and are affected by the organization, Castells’ concept of the network society allows us to critically examine the work that LLLI does within society more broadly. While interpersonal relationships within the organization are not as easy to explore through the lens of the network society (except that it does allow us to explore the simultaneous vertical and horizontal structure of the organization), it is very useful in examining how the rhetoric of LLLI resists the concept of breast milk as a product, resists attempts to technologize breastfeeding to facilitate the timeless time of the networked society, and explore the relationship of breastfeeding to concepts of space.

According to Castells’ exploration of the network society, there is an endless possibility to incorporate nodes within the network of which LLLI is a part. Castells says that “Networks are open structures, able to expand without limits, integrating new nodes as long as they are able to communicate within the network, namely as long as they share the same communication codes” (501). What constitutes a node, he says, “depends on the kind of concrete networks of which we speak” (501). When we consider the system that impacts or is impacted by La Leche League, we must include the scientific field of immunology, the medical field of pediatrics, institutions such as the Association of American Pediatricians, industries that capitalize on the concept of breast milk as a product (such as the manufacturing of breast pumps and related products as well of the sale of donated breast milk), alternative medical practitioners, parenting practices and philosophies such as attachment parenting, lactation consultants, LLLI itself, LLLI leaders, nursing mothers, babies, and members of the public. However, according to Castells, these subjects and organizations make up “the basic unit of economic organization.” Possible types of nodes in a network include: commanders, who make decisions; researchers, who are the innovators; designers, who adapt, package, or target audience for the innovation; integrators, who manage relationships; operators who execute tasks under their own initiative; and the operated, who execute preprogrammed tasks and do not make decisions.

While each node in the network has agency, the perception of the nodes’ agency seems to depend upon the situation of the nodes within the network and their relationship to one another. Castells says that the network is “made of many cultures, many values, many projects, which cross through minds and inform the strategies of various participants in the networks, changing at the same pace as the networks’ members, and following the organizational and cultural transformation of the units of the network” (214). Two modes or organization of a network that significantly impact the agency held by the nodes, and thus the strategies that they employ, are horizontal and vertical networks as well as the role that they play in networks. In the labor force, there are networkers, who create the network (they seem to correspond to deciders); the networked, who are on-line but do not decide when, where, how, why (involved in decision-making, but not the ultimate deciders); and the switched-off workers, who merely follow instructions (executants).

In a vertical organization of the network surrounding breastfeeding, the roles that each member of the network plays impacts the way that the meaning of information and values surrounding breastfeeding, the primary concepts that move between nodes in the network, are interpreted and presented. In a vertical, top down network, the deciders have the authority to make decisions. In the network within LLLI operates, commanders might include prominent voices and institutions in medicine and science as well as the LLLI leadership. Researchers working in breastfeeding science and medicine, or perhaps even social research, who contribute to the body of knowledge from which commanders draw to make decisions. Designers, who adapt and present materials to pass on research about breastfeeding to those lower in the network (individual doctors, LLLI leaders/authors). Operators may be doctors, lactation consultants, LLLI leaders, and breastfeeding mothers (if they feel confident enough about their breastfeeding knowledge to make their own decisions). Finally, mothers who follow strict feeding schedules/practices and do not question advice provided to authoritative figures, may be the operated.

Castells claims that the information technology revolution has led to an increasing interaction between horizontal and vertical networks (xxx). Mainstream media, which is a top-down organization, has historically intended simply to pass on information without receiving feedback, while interactive technologies such as blogs and Twitter make it possible for the audience or consumer to provide feedback, which in turn may affect what the media outlet reports. According to Castells, horizontal networks often are focused on “communication built around people’s initiatives, interests, and desires” and they may involve cooperative projects (xxviii). In contrast to the top-down organization that I explored in the previous paragraph, this simultaneous vertical and horizontal organization the way in which LLLI is organized. The organization prefers to promote the horizontal aspect of the organization offered by the mother-to-mother support groups, which require a shared interest in breastfeeding and cooperation of mothers who are core to the organization. According to Nancy Mohrbacher and Sharon Knorr, mother-to-mother support groups provide informal support through vicarious experience, which increases a mother’s self-efficacy, while formal authoritative organizations make mothers lose self-confidence. Because LLLI leaders provide advice based on the organization’s core philosophy, and because LLLI manuals not only provide breastfeeding support but also strongly recommend an attachment parenting lifestyle that some mothers simply cannot live because they must work to provide for their families, some mothers may lose self-confidence as a parent because they are not capable of leading the lifestyle that the organization dictates. While mother-to-mother support groups operate on cooperative knowledge making, there is still a top-down element to the organization, as commanders (such as the organization leaders), pass down information to local leaders and mothers, the horizontal organization of the peer top peer group is meant to underscore mother’s autonomy and make them at least operators instead of operated, if not playing the roles of researcher, designer, and integrators. By giving mothers more autonomy, emphasizing the physical relationship of breastfeeding and the emotional connection between mothers and babies, LLLI contributes to the demedicalization of breastfeeding for which the strict vertical organization of the network does not allow.

Other important element of the situatedness of nodes in the LLLI network is space and time. Castells says that, “Spatial forms and processes are formed by the dynamics of the overall social structure. This includes contradictory trends derived from conflicts and strategies between social actors playing out their opposing interests and values” (441).The medicalization of breastfeeding and the demedicalization of breastfeeding seem to be functions of varying values for space and time. According to Castells, there is “an increasing dissociation between spatial proximity and the performance of everyday life functions” (424). He also says that, “The space of flows is the material organization of time-sharing practices that work through flows” (442). Medical associations, researchers, scientists, organizations, lactation consultants, and breastfeeding product manufacturers all operate within the space of flows to disseminate knowledge and information about breastfeeding, including the concept as breast milk as a product. Technologies of breastfeeding, such as the breast pump, and the concept as breast milk as a product, serve to help women operate in a society that values timeless time. According to Castells, “Capital’s freedom from time and culture’s escape from the clock are decisively facilitated by new forms of technologies, and embedded in the structure of the network society” (464). The actors operating within the space of flows of breastfeeding (doctors, manufacturers, researchers, etc…) make breastfeeding knowledge a commodity (as is milk) that must come from authorities, and they also seem to suggest that breastfeeding, facilitated by technology, can be a function of timeless time. On the other hand, the space of breastfeeding in a local mom-to-mom peer support group us a local space. A core part of LLLI’s philosophy is that the embodied experience of breastfeeding is very important. Thus, LLLI values the space of place for breastfeeding mothers as well as biological time. LLLI values time spent with children, and encourages mothers to place other demands on time lower on the list of priorities.

In the vertical organization of the breastfeeding network, the space of flows, the meaning of information traveling through the network is interpreted by others. The organization, commanders, researchers, designers, etc… passes down information and presents it to the audience, who is expected to be passive and operate according to the information passed down. In contrast, LLLI meetings occurring at the local level operate similarly to the counterculture in the information technology revolution. The computer counterculture, Castells tells us, developed the modem. The modem allows for files to be transmitted between two computers without a host system, and the counterculture movement spread innovations at no cost. This is very similar to the organization of the LLLI mother-to-mother meeting (though there is a top-down element to the organization as well). There is a potential at the peer meetings for information based on real experience to be exchanged between mothers without them having to be transmitted via a host. In the process of information and knowledge transition, breastfeeding is demedicalized and is constructed as something that mothers can understand and explore without the intervention of medical professionals.

Image of breastfeeding mother and chils outdoors.

Breastfeeding outside of the space of flows? Bamboo magazine claims that breastfeeding is the greenest choice because it leave no manufacturing or distribution by products.

Castells explains that network structure, such as the network that involves those with an interest in breastfeeding, “is a highly dynamic, open system, susceptible to innovating without threatening its balance” (501-502). He also says that “the network morphology is also a source of dramatic reorganization of power relationships” (502). In the case of LLLI, the introduction of new members into the organization has shifted organizational rhetoric about working outside of the home and patriarchy. The organization once catered primarily to heterosexual, married, white, middle-class women who stay at home, but as more women work, and as breastfeeding rates increase, more women have come to LLLI for assistance. LLLI has had to shift it’s rhetoric to be more inclusive, while still maintaining its core philosophy. By being flexible and allowing for innovation, the organization has grown rather than dissolved.

There is a great deal that Castells’ theory of the network society allows us to see when examining LLLI. Through the theory of networks, we can examine the role that understandings of space and time influence the organization and the way the organizational structure exhibits these values. It also made it easy to see the role of vertical and horizontal organization in the network. What it does not allow for, as much as past theories I have explored, is the way in which the organization employs rhetoric and genres to present its values. The network society theory seems more appropriate for examining the links between nodes in the network of which LLLI is a part, rather than examining the nuances of the relationships within the organization.

Viral breasting in the zombie apocalypse meme.

I couldn’t resist including this image. It seems to me that the Zombie trope could represent resistance to the space of flows and a need for self-reliance and self-containment, so this meme really speaks to the idea of separating breastfeeding from the space of flows of the medical establishment and infant-feeing industries.

Works Cited

Boyer, Kate. “Of care and commodities: breast milk and the new politics of mobile biosubstances.” Progress in human geography 34.1 (2010): 5-20.

Koerber, Amy. “Rhetorical agency, resistance, and the disciplinary rhetorics of breastfeeding.” Technical Communication Quarterly 15.1 (2006): 87-101.

Torres, Jennifer. “Medicalizing to demedicalize: Lactation consultants and the (de) medicalization of breastfeeding.” Social Science & Medicine 100 (2014): 159-166.

Manual Castells Reading Notes

Castells, Manuel. The Rise Of The Network Society. 2nd ed.Oxford; Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2010.


Manuel Catells, author of The Rise of the Network Society

Manuel Catells, author of The Rise of the Network Society

Since I took notes on the text during Week 1, I am continuing notes here.

Chapter 1

In the first chapter, Castells explores the information technology revolution. The revolution is one of the few eras of rapid change that have punctuated periods of stable eras. Technologies involved include micro-electronics, computing, telecommunication/broadcasting, and opto-electronics (29). Technological revolutions are pervasive in that they penetrate all domains of human activity, they are process-oriented, but the technology revolution is one of technology information and processing. It applies knowledge and information to knowledge generation and information processing, communication devices (31). Stages of the development of the revolution included: learning by using and learning by doing (31). The human mind is a direct productive force in the revolution, and computers, communication systems, and genetic decoding amplify and extend the human mind (31). Minds and machines have become increasingly integrated. Unlike past technological revolutions, the information revolution spread across the globe rapidly, and those places that are cut off from the technology is “a critical source of inequality in our society” (33). Energy has been the key to past revolutions, while power to produce, to distribute, and to communicate is the core of this revolution (38). Key developments in the revolution include: micro-electronics, computers, and telecommunications. The transistor, the microprocessor, micro-electronics, microcomputers, telecommunications, and opto-electronics all brought something to the amplification of the effects of information technologies (45). Castells explores the development of the Internet, network technologies, and biotechnology in the chapter. The new technological system resulted from “the autonomous dynamics of technological discovery and diffusion, including synergistic effects between various key technologies” (59-60). The technological revolution was not socially determined, but was the result of development and applications and content (60). The technological revolution comes about in a “milieu of innovation by the convergence on one site of new technological knowledge and a large pool of skilled engineers and scientists” (62). The milieu generates its own dynamics, to attract knowledge, investment, and talent (65). Sites must be able to “generate synergy on the basis of knowledge and information, directly related to industrial production and commercial applications” (67). The state is often involved in innovation.

The information technology paradigm provides the foundation of the network society, and it includes:

1)      Information is the raw material

2)      Information technologies are pervasive as information is part of human existence

3)      The network is adapted to increasing complexity of patterns and unpredictable patterns of development

4)      The paradigm is based on flexibility

5)      The convergence of specific 6echnologies into a highly integrated system


In the information society, technology serves as an extension of the human mind and furthers human productivity. From:

In the information society, technology serves as an extension of the human mind and furthers human productivity.


Chapter 2:

The new economy emerging through the information technology revolution is informative, global, and networked. The agents of productivity and competitiveness depend on information, production, consumption, and circulation, and their components are organized globally, and productivity and competition happens through a global network of interaction (77). The global economy acts as a feedback loop in that changes that it makes to technology, knowledge, and management, impact technology, knowledge, and management themselves (78). An increase in productivity drives the growth of the economic system, despite a lag that sometimes exists between innovation and production. The evolution of productivity depends on the context of that productivity (88). Statistical studies of productivity need to be adapted to the dynamics of today’s economy in order to better understand growth. Economic agents must adapt to the new economy or face extinction (94). While productivity drives the economy, it is profitability and competitiveness that drives productivity (94). Profitability is increased the global economy network is increased through extending reach, integrating markets, and maximizing advantages (96). The development of the economy was complex, and involves knowledge and information processing and the subsuming of the industrial economy. Today, we have a global (not world) economy that works as a unit, but local and regional nodes like organizations and firms still play an important role (101). Technology allows for fast movement of capital, so global financial flows have increased a great deal. Deregulation, development of infrastructure, new financial products, speculative movements of financial flows, and market valuation firms have resulted in the global interdependence of financial markets. The globalization of the market drives the new global economy through increased flow of the market. Labor has been divided internationally, resulting in trade dominance of some countries while opening up new channels of integration of new economies (110), but local public institutions have impacted free trade and government decisions (116). Production sectors are organized in “the global web” (122), with many firms in many locations networking to create a production economy that is 1) high-volume, 2) flexible, 3) customized (123). Technological knowledge is diffused globally in a selective pattern of decentralized, multidirectional production networks (129). Laborers find themselves increasingly connected to others globally, resulting in increasing transnationalism from the bottom (132). That which is valuable to the network appropriate wealth, while those not valuable are excluded (134). Politics plays a big role in the development of the new economy because development of firms and technologies often depends on political action like regulation, deregulation, privatization and liberalization of trade/investment (147). The new economy is rapidly spreading and it is causing restructuring, prosperity, and crisis as economies and societies adapt (162).



The global economy requires networking and competition.


Chapter 3: Culture, Institution, Organization

The globally economy is characterized by “its emergence in very different cultural/national contexts,” but there is still the possibility of a “common matrix of organizational forms in the processes of production, consumptions, and distribution” (163). Castells claims that cultures manifest themselves “through their embeddedness in institutions and organizations” (164). The informational, global economy relies on the “convergence and interaction between a new technological paradigm and a new organizational logic that constitutes the historical foundation of the informational economy” (164). This logic takes different forms in different cultural and institutional contexts (164). There are a number of possible organizational trajectories (“specific arrangements of systems of means oriented toward increasing productivity and competitiveness in the new technological paradigm and in the new global economy” (165-166). These trajectories include: a move from mass production to flexible production that accommodates change, the crisis of the corporation and the resilience of small and medium business well adapted to flexible production, new methods of management (management worker cooperation, multifunctional labor, total quality control, and reduction of uncertainty) which prevent major disruption in production, inter-firm networking (multidirectional networking in small and medium business and licensing-subcontracting under an umbrella organization), strategic alliances between large corporations that are no longer self-contained and self-sufficient, a shift from hierarchical bureaucracy to horizontal cooperation in a “dynamic and strategically planned network of self-programmed, self-directed units based on decentralization participation, and coordination” (178), a crisis of vertical corporation models and the rise of networked businesses that are adapted to the global information economy, and the rise of the global networked business model that gives a different role in the process to different firms involved.

Traditional corporate culture was an obstacle to adapting corporations to the flexibility of the global economy. The organizational change happened independent of technological change as a response to the changing environment, but technology did help the change take place (185). The new organizational model that has formed is called “the network enterprise” (187). This enterprise “makes material the culture of the informational, global economy: it transforms signals into the commodities by processing knowledge” (188).

Economic organization depends upon the culture and institutions within the context. Technology and global business causes, the forms “diffuse, borrow from each other, and create a mixture that responds to largely common patterns of production and competition, while adapting to the specific social environments in which they operate” (188). Castells uses East Asian business networks as case studies through which to explore this. The new organizational paradigm includes business networks, technological tools, global competition, the state, and the emergence and consolidation of the network enterprise (212). The network enterprise contains “a common cultural code in the diverse workings of the network enterprise” (214).

Questions with Discussion:

What is the role of counterculture and activism in the growth of a network society?

One of the concepts that most interested me when I read Castells was the role of counterculture in the information technology revolution. The computer counterculture, Castells tells us, was “often intellectually associated with the aftershocks of the 1960’s movements in their most libertarian/utopian version. The computer counterculture developed the modem. The modem allows for files to be trabnsmitted between two computers without a host system, and the counterculture movement spread innovations at no cost.

In this previous video, Castells talks about contemporary social movements such as the occupy movement. He explains that they form in cyberspace, thereby potentially having a global reach, as the global economy does, but just as with the global economy, local context or space is vital to the development of the social movement also. The pattern he discusses is internet use, occupation of space (usually), and the possibility of creating a new form of democratic representation.

He says that part of the idea behind such movements is to escape the positivist logic of the capitalist system. He says that movements are attempting to make people aware that they do not have to delegate their power to the politicians. When I watched this video, it reminded me of the way in which the computer counterculture cut out the middleman (the host) with the creation of the modem and other technologies that allow the individual user more autonomy.

Innovation by activists is key here as it was in the computer counterculture because innovation acts to reshape the political system, whether positively as in the case of Iceland or negatively as in Cyprus. So, this innovation, just as computer innovation, is not neutral, good, or bad.


What about Ecology? How does it compare to the concept of the network society?

As I was reading, it occurred to me that the concept of the network society has a good deal in common with the concept of the mind in ecology. In ecology, the mind is both a complete system and a sub-system within a system. It seems to me that Castells describes the network society in a similar way. For Castells, machins become part of the ecology of the human minds, since computers, communication systems, and genetic decoding amplify and extend the human mind (31). Minds and machines have become increasingly integrated.

When I watched the video above, I realized that environmental ecology is not a parallel system, but that in fact environmental ecology exists within the framework of the global network society. Castells says that “space and time are intertwined in nature and in society” and he says that “Both space and time are being combined in effect of the information technology paradigm” (407). I tend to think of environmental ecology as a place of space,” and materials, but when I watched the video, I realized that the agricultural industry is part of the network society, as information is vital to the success of the industry. However, the role of the technologically networked society in the environment is not limited to cultivated plant and animal life, but that the network society is becoming increasingly vital to conservation activism.


How does feedback impact the network society? How does it compare to LLLI? 

It seems that in a network society, information continually cycles from the source, to the user, and then the user make innovations or contributes to knowledge. Castells says, “A networked, deeply interdependent economy emerges that becomes increasingly able to apply its progress in technology, knowledge, and management to technology, knowledge, and management themselves” (78). He also says that “the application of knowledge and information to knowledge a generation and information processing/communication devices” happens “in a cumulative feedback loop between innovation and the uses of innovation” (31).

In some ways, the mother/baby and mother/baby/leader dynamic in LLLI, the end users of LLLI recommended philosophy and practice, is instrumental in an eventual shift in policy/practice because the problems face by real mothers requires innovations and practices that may cycle back to the organization in one of these “virtuous circles” that Castells describes on page 78.


 Key Ideas from Chapters 5-7

 Chapter 5: The Culture of Real Virtuality

  • the formation of hypertext and meta-language integrates, oral, written, and visual modes of communication for the first time, and changes the character of human communication
  • the culture of real virtuality is the result of the new communication system, is mediated by social interests, government policies, and business strategies
  • the fundamental impact of the normalization of messages is that it levels all content into each person’s frame of images
  • the audience is not a passive object but an interactive subject
  • in the new media system, the message is the medium
  • we don’t live in a globalized village, but in customized cottages globally produced and locally distributed
  • there have been “efforts to regulate, privatize, and and commercialize the Internet and its tributary systems, CMC networks, inside and outside the Internet, are characterized by their pervasiveness, their multi-faceted decentralization, and their flexibility” (385).
  • the Internet allows the forging of weak ties with strangers, linking people with different social characteristics (388)
  • virtual communities are and are not real communities; they are not physical and they do not follow the same patterns, but they work on a different plane of reality (389)
  • most CMC activity takes place at work or in work related situations, but they also reach the whole realm of social activity
  • in the new system, the message is the message (399)
  • widespread social/cultural differentiation leads to the segmentation of users/viewers/readers/listeners (402)
  • social stratification of users; the multimedia world will be populated by two distinct populations: interacting and interacted (402)
  • the communication of all kinds of messages in the same system induces an integration of all messages in a common cognitive pattern (402)
  • the most important feature of multimedia is that they capture within their domain most cultural expressions in all their diversity (403)
  • real virtuality creates a system in which reality itself is entirely captured, fully immersed in a virtual image setting, in which appearances are not just on the screen through which experience is communicated (404)

 Chapter 6: The Space of Flows

  •  space and time are intertwined with nature and society
  • space orders time in the network society
  • the informational, global society is ordered around command and control centers able to coordinate, innovate, and manage interwtined activities of networks of firms (409)
  • as the economy expand and incorporates new markets it also organizes the production of advanced services required to manage new unites in the joining system (410)
  • the global city is a process, not a place (417)
  • the new industrial space is organized in a hierarchy of innovation and fabrication articulated in global networks (424)
  • there is an increasing dissociation between spatial proximity and the performance of everyday life functions (424)
  • interactivity of spaces breaks up spatial patterns of behavior into a fluid network of exchanges (429)
  • new forms of urban centers emerge from the network
  • space is the material support, always bearing a symbolic meaning, of time-sharing social practices  (441)
  • the space of flows is the material organization of time-sharing practices that work through flows (442)
  • the first material support of the space of flows is constituted by a circuit of electronic exchanges (442)
  • the space of flows is constituted by its nodes and hubs (443)
  • the spatial organization of the dominant, manages elites exercise the directional functions around which space is articulated (445)
  • societies are organized around the dominant interests specific to each social structure (445)
  • the space of flows is the dominant spatial form of the network society (448)
  • a place is a locale whose form, function, and meaning are self-contained within the boundaries of physical contiguity (453)
  • people live in places, but function and power in society is concentrated in the space of flows (458)
  • unless cultural, political, and physical bridges are deliberately built between the two forms of space, we may be heading toward life in two parallel universes (459)

 Chapter 7: Timeless Time

  •  capital’s freedom from time and culture’s escape from the clock are decisively facilitated by new forms of technologies (464)
  • timeless time is the emerging dominant form
  • the suppression of time is at the core of new organizational forms of economic activity (467)
  • high performance firms attempt to manage time (468)
  • the challenge of the new relationship between work and technology is the shortening of life working time for most of society (475) age wars will be the result



Network enterprise: “that specific form of enterprise whose system of means is constituted by the intersection of segments of autonomous systems of goals” (187).

mass self-communication a new form of societal communication  that is mass “because it reaches a potentially global audience through p2p networks and Internet connection” and it is multimodal because digitization of content and social software allow for reformatting of content in almost any form to be distributed in wireless networks (xxx).

space of contiguity spaces of places (xxxi)

space of flows “the material support of simultaneous social practices communicated at a distance” (xxxii).

timeless time the kind of time occurring in a context when there is a systemic perturbation of sequential order (xli).

glacial time – slow motion time the human mind assigns to the evolution of the planet (xlii).