Stefano Harney's Blog

From Statistical to Logistical Populations

Stefano Harney September 26, 2010

Brian Knott

As the private sector has come to discover the potential wealth in commodities that produce and extend attention, mood, communication, social relations and opinion, the one commodity key to this production, commodity-labour, has increasingly yielded its secrets to that sector. Not only has this commodity-labour been trained in the university to do so, to be research active, in the most degraded sense of research as the mining of oneself and others for instrumental purposes, as in the research assessment exercise in the UK, but the university has experimented not just with the production but also the management of such subjectivities. Those experiments form the basis of the structure of today’s private knowledge management firms. Marketing firms, software firms, media firms, creative industries firms resemble nothing so much in the way they operate today as university departments, full of peer review, mentoring, collaboration, experiment and crucially the bringing of all life into work, so familiar to the academic like no else except perhaps the artist, as Andrew Ross has well noted in his revealing book No Collar.

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