Re-thinking Relationality in the Sociotechnological Condition

2016-05-19 Symposium with Götz Bachmann, Paula Bialski, Mathias Blanc, Tilo Grenz, Jérémy Grosman, Anna Henkel, Yuk Hui, Hubert Knoblauch, Gesa Lindemann, Michaela Pfadenhauer, Olli Pyythinen, Boris Traue, Anna Tuschling

May 19th-20th 2016 

Digital Cultures Research Lab, Leuphana Universität Lüneburg

Venue: Musikschule Lüneburg, Studio 2, St. Ursula-Weg 7


If you would like to attend the event, please register with

paul.feigelfeld@leuphana.de until May 12th.

Organizers: Boris Traue & Götz Bachmann 

Understandings of relations and relationality are currently under reconsideration both in social theory and media theory. More substantialist ideas of "the" social and "the" technological are frequently understood to have been replaced by concepts of hybridity, spatiality, environmentality, assemblages, networks etc. However, it seems as though these more holistic notions need to be revised to adress the intersection of power, technology, and valuations in contemporary societies. A relational perspective which adresses modes of experience within and through relational orders may be better suited to grasp both the horizontal (interactive, valuative) as well as vertical (hierarchical, ordering) aspects of realities in the cybernetic sociotechnological condition. 

It promises to account for the constitution of reflexivity and agency in the scaffolding of technologies, institutions and embodied practices. Recent developments in sociological and media research contribute to this debate with triadic concepts of relationality. The symposium brings together different strands of relational thought and research in social theory and media theory. 

The following questions will be adressed: In what sense is the relation prior to what is being related, such as actors, other living beings and objects? Do technologies supplement, augment or replace institutional, normative power? How can the related entities in turn re-work the relations? What are agency and reflexivity in communication, discourses, assemblages, infrastructures, dispositifs, institutions, when these are understood as radically relational phenomena?

An attempt to re-think, describe and understand relations at once lived and engineered may allow us to come to terms with the underpinnings of contemporary communication societies. The two-day event engages sociologists and media scholars in a dialogue about the artificial nature of contemporary relations and their dimensions. 

Thursday, May 19th

9:30 -10:30 Arrival  

10:30-11:00 Welcome: Götz Bachmann (Leuphana)

Introduction: Boris Traue (Leuphana) 

11:00-12:00 Hubert Knoblauch (Technische Universität Berlin)

Subjectivity, Reciprocity, and Relationality

12:00-13:00 Anna Tuschling (Universität Bochum)

„The forgotten Third?“ Relationality and Affective Computing


13:00-14:30 Lunch (at the venue)


14:30-15:30 Jérémy Grosman (Université de Namur)

Youtube's Recommendation System: Relating Contents, Users and Advertisers

15:30-16:30 Michaela Pfadenhauer & Tilo Grenz (Universität Wien)

Objectivation as Relationality. Consequences concerning Media Technology


16:30-17:00 Coffee Break


17:00-18:00 Mathias Blanc (CNRS, Lille)

The relation-image. Relationality through Visual Media  

18:00 – 19:00  Gesa Lindemann (Universität Oldenburg)

The Triadic Structure of Dividualization and Individualiziation


19:00 – 19:30 Reception

20:30 Dinner (Restaurant) 


Friday, May 20th

10:00 -11:00 Yuk Hui (Universität Lüneburg)

On the Concretization of the Social in Light of a Realism of Relations

11:00 – 12:00 Paula Bialski (Universität Lüneburg) 

Relational Re-Ordering: The app developer and the case of A/B testing


12:00-13:00 Lunch 


13:00 -14:00 Anna Henkel (Universität Oldenburg): 

Relations of Meaning. Relationing media of verbalized and corporealized meaning

14:00 - 15:00 Olli Pyyhtinen (Tampereen Yliopisto/University of Tampere)

Human and Nonhuman Thirds and a Theory of Relations

15:00-16:00  Closing Round and Good-Byes