[iDC] "recursive publics"

Christopher Kelty ckelty at gmail.com
Fri Jul 10 17:13:31 UTC 2009

David, thanks very much for this.  I like this use of Boltanksi and Thevenot
a lot-- there is something to be said for making a comparison here between
what they do, in all of its seven-fold (and now eight-fold) complexity, and
the question Biella asked about publics and counterpublics.  My sense of
Warner's desire to have counterpublics is to point to those things outside
of a public which are used to justify its worth.  A counterpublic therefore
justifies its worth by opposing itself to something members see as
dominant/hegemonic... as opposed to doing it by reference to other kinds of
values.  Not sure which city counterpublics live in though.  the country I
guess :)

Attending to the ways practices are justified by participants is something I
tried to do in understanding Free Software (and the Internet as a ground for
that practice, for which the Clark quotation is emblematic).  In my book,
however, I condensed that practice of justification under the label of
"movement" (Chapter 3) and tried to argue that what makes Free Software/Open
Source into a movement is when people argue about and try to justify the
worth of the other practices that make up what they do.  In retrospect
rethinking that practice not under the label of movements but of
'justifications of worth' might have made more sense.


On Fri, Jul 10, 2009 at 7:21 AM, David M. Berry <D.M.Berry at swansea.ac.uk>wrote:

> A useful way to reconceptualise the debate and avoid the problems of a
> metaphysical concept like 'justice' is to think in terms of assembling or
> making, that is of justification. Here a useful discussion of this as a way
> of reconceptualising Michael Walzer's notion of 'Spheres of Justice' is in
> Boltanski and Thevenot (2006) *On Justification: Economies of Worth*. They
> use the notion of six 'cities' (renamed 'worlds' in Boltanski and Chiapello
> (2007) *The New Spirit of Capitalism*) and discuss the way in which
> different 'cities' construct different notions of how a justification is
> made and with reference to what (in this case 'tests of worth')...
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