The Power of Networks
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The Power of Networks

Organizing the Global Politics of the Internet

Mikkel Flyverbom

With an ever-growing number of users, the Internet is central to the processes of globalization, cultural formations, social encounters and economic development. These aside, it is also fast becoming an important political domain. Struggles over disclosure, access and regulation are only the most visible signs that the Internet is quickly becoming a site of fierce political conflict involving states, technical groups, business and civil society. As the debate over the global politics of the Internet intensifies, this book will be a valuable guide for anyone seeking to understand the emergence, organization and shape of this new issue.
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Chapter 6: Displacement as Ordering

Mikkel Flyverbom


Ordering is always partial and in-the-making, and all attempts to act on the world must compete with other, equally possible modes of ordering (Kendall and Wickham 2001; Law and Mol 2008). As we have seen in previous chapters, the organization of the global politics of the Internet has in this way been marked by constantly shifting alliances, ongoing organizational experiments and recurring contestations of attempts at ordering. So far, however, we have observed a stabilization and consolidation of organizational techniques, subject positions and issue areas. Focusing on the relationship between stability and transformation in hybrid forums, this chapter will show how ordering also takes the shape of dissidence and instability and will substantiate the somewhat counter-intuitive claim that ‘instability and multiplicity actually contributes to the continuity of the program’ (Singleton 1998: 86). This concern with instability as a form of ordering ties in with discussions about longevity in STS, and particularly more recent calls for a closer scrutiny of difference, instability and looser networks in what has been termed the post-ANT literature (Law and Singleton 2005). While the emergence of ANT was driven by a discomfort with categories and explanations based on conceptions of order, and sought to pave the way for a sociology of association and ordering (Law 1994; Latour 2005a), much of the work in this tradition actually ended up only focusing on successful stabilizations, or what have been termed ‘macro actors’ (Czarniawska 2008: 21). But ordering also involves messier and more fluctuating configurations. This chapter captures the...

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