Configurations of Relationality

Dr. Boris Traue

The rise of participatory structures in networked societies gives power to new groups of individualized actors through embodiments as creative subjects. At the same time, Fordist patterns of collective action have long been losing their attraction, and democracy itself seems to in decline. This paradoxon – a certain lack of connection despite connectedness, a loss of voice in a mediascape which amplifies voices, a crisis of individual experience while institutions and technologies thrive – informs Boris Traue's work on relationality and collectivity.

In sociology, anthropology and other disciplines a rich array of site-specific, often highly metaphorical and sometimes incompatible concepts of collectivity have been proffered in the past decades, such as networks, collective, collegiality, sharing, new masses, new social movements, swarms, citizenship, voice, etc. However, a coherent account of the transformation of collectivity remains a desideratum in these creative propositions and multidisciplinary debates.

Boris Traue’s research at the DCRL builds on studies on Anglo-European consulting cultures, digitally mediatized identities, cultures of the body and polymedia public activism. In these projects, the formation of amateur cultures, political movements, and technological milieus was found to supplement more traditional social and cultural structures. The current research aims at developing a relational concept of sociality in the sociotechnological condition, in which the cultures of the life-world and the technological not only merge, but where the remediations of the social are legitimized by technophile and technophobe knowledge cultures – resulting in diverse “techniques of relationality”, such as coaching, app culture, prosumerism, digital activism. This concept builds on a triadic model of the social, where embodied activities emerge in nested andentangled sociotechnical configurations, always prone to regimes of verticalization and acquisition. The research evolves in dialogue with field-specific empirical studies of different “sociotechnical configurations”, specifically participation, curation, symbiosis, and disposession, accessed through methods of polymedia discourse analysis and observation.