Workshop 1: Competition(s).

Copenhagen Business School, 10th and 11th of June 2016.

While market competition has been the subject of sustained attention, studies of organized competitions are more scarce and are rarely brought together. This workshop will bring a number of researchers who have conducted such studies together, along with experts in market competition. It will ask: How are competitions and games structured? What are the roles of audiences and experts? How do judges and juries go about reaching judgements? What does it mean to win and to lose? How are competition and competitions different from and the same as each other?

See the programme for this event here.

Workshop 2: From Prices to Prizes and Vice Versa.

University of Bologna, 13th and 14th of January 2017.

This workshop will address questions about what happens when forms of competition move across domains. We will ask: Do prizes offer alternative judgements of value to those provided by prices? What role does the performance of value play in introducing alternative criteria into competition? When and why did the social form of ratings become widely diffused? What are the consequences of representations of aspects of social life as a ranked order? Should we assume that everyone wants to win or that everyone accepts to play the games of competition? What are the consequences of not joining in?

See the programme for this event here.

Final Workshop: Performances of Value

University of Warwick, London, 4th and 5th May 2018

Musicians, dancers, and actors perform. Politicians perform on public stages, doctors in surgeries, teachers in classrooms. And millions perform their everyday selves, in photos, videos and texts, on Facebook and Twitter. Performance denotes value. Coaches and sports statisticians measure athletes’ performance. Companies monitor the performance of their employees, stock markets register the performance of firms, indicators tell us which nations are more or less free, democratic or corrupt, and at the semester’s end students are asked to evaluate their professors. Top Ten lists are ubiquitous; online ratings of restaurants, movies, and books abound; and we are frequently asked to rate the reviewers. From the bedroom to the boardroom, pharmaceutical companies and management consultants promise enhanced performance.

We live in a performance society: a society saturated with performances of many and various kinds, with a wide range of attendant capacities, techniques and creativities – but also anxieties. While all societies involve performance, in the performance society more and more domains of life, and ever more activities within them, are experienced in terms of performance.

We are surrounded by performance metrics. At the same time, new technologies of measurement and new technologies of communication produce new circuits of performing and viewing with feedback loops operating across multiple temporalities. New digital technologies – and the performance metrics embedded in them – are leading to new forms of individualization.

Proliferating as well are new kinds of staging and rehearsal: sometimes in specially marked out places and times, and sometimes almost invisibly integrated into mundane and everyday lives. Or take coaching, a well-developed practice in sports and the arts. It takes new forms when applied to parenting, to one’s Klout score in the social media space, or to one’s managerial career. Whereas Taylor’s Scientific Management was about managing manual labor and Human Relations was about managing white collar employees, the new personal coaching is about managing the personalities of executives and professionals. It differs from counseling. Whereas psychotherapy prepares one for life, personal coaching prepares one for the next performance review.

The lived paradox of the performance society is the search to find what is not planned, managed, scripted or staged even while hoping that this moment will be captured in a digital form that can be instanteously disseminated to ones friends and followers.

For the third workshop in our series sponsored by The Leverhulme Trust we ask: How is our social world being reshaped by new performance metrics, new technologies of measurement, and new circuitries of performing and observing especially in everyday life?

See the programme for this event here.