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Colloidal social theory: thinking about material animacy and sociality beyond solids and fluids

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Colloidal social theory : thinking about material animacy and sociality beyond solids and fluids. / Szerszynski, Bronislaw.

In: Theory, Culture and Society, Vol. 39, No. 2, 01.03.2022, p. 131-151.

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

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Szerszynski B. Colloidal social theory: thinking about material animacy and sociality beyond solids and fluids. Theory, Culture and Society. 2022 Mar 1;39(2):131-151. Epub 2021 Sep 13. doi: 10.1177/02632764211030989

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@article{a22828d533bd458f9b89a336924e791e,
title = "Colloidal social theory: thinking about material animacy and sociality beyond solids and fluids",
abstract = "This paper argues that an exploration of colloids can help us situate human social life within a wider understanding of the sociality and animacy of matter. Colloids are substances such as sols, foams, powders, gels, doughs and pastes that exhibit complex and shifting macroscale physical properties that do not conform to standard conceptions of solids, liquids or gases. Colloids can behave in complex and creative ways because of their topological enfolding of dispersed and continuous matter, in different phases, at a {\textquoteleft}mesoscale{\textquoteright} intermediate between the scale of molecules and that of the macroscale substance. I relate colloids, with their twin phenomena of {\textquoteleft}repetition{\textquoteright} and {\textquoteleft}mediation{\textquoteright}, to an understanding of social life as reducible neither to the interaction between separate individuals nor to a transindividual whole. I suggest that human social life participates in a colloidal {\textquoteleft}metapattern{\textquoteright} of repetition and mediation that is manifest across diverse material substrates and spatial scales. ",
keywords = "colloids, topology, mediality, materiality, mesoscale, animacy, physical chemistry",
author = "Bronislaw Szerszynski",
year = "2022",
month = mar,
day = "1",
doi = "10.1177/02632764211030989",
language = "English",
volume = "39",
pages = "131--151",
journal = "Theory, Culture and Society",
issn = "0263-2764",
publisher = "SAGE Publications Ltd",
number = "2",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Colloidal social theory

T2 - thinking about material animacy and sociality beyond solids and fluids

AU - Szerszynski, Bronislaw

PY - 2022/3/1

Y1 - 2022/3/1

N2 - This paper argues that an exploration of colloids can help us situate human social life within a wider understanding of the sociality and animacy of matter. Colloids are substances such as sols, foams, powders, gels, doughs and pastes that exhibit complex and shifting macroscale physical properties that do not conform to standard conceptions of solids, liquids or gases. Colloids can behave in complex and creative ways because of their topological enfolding of dispersed and continuous matter, in different phases, at a ‘mesoscale’ intermediate between the scale of molecules and that of the macroscale substance. I relate colloids, with their twin phenomena of ‘repetition’ and ‘mediation’, to an understanding of social life as reducible neither to the interaction between separate individuals nor to a transindividual whole. I suggest that human social life participates in a colloidal ‘metapattern’ of repetition and mediation that is manifest across diverse material substrates and spatial scales.

AB - This paper argues that an exploration of colloids can help us situate human social life within a wider understanding of the sociality and animacy of matter. Colloids are substances such as sols, foams, powders, gels, doughs and pastes that exhibit complex and shifting macroscale physical properties that do not conform to standard conceptions of solids, liquids or gases. Colloids can behave in complex and creative ways because of their topological enfolding of dispersed and continuous matter, in different phases, at a ‘mesoscale’ intermediate between the scale of molecules and that of the macroscale substance. I relate colloids, with their twin phenomena of ‘repetition’ and ‘mediation’, to an understanding of social life as reducible neither to the interaction between separate individuals nor to a transindividual whole. I suggest that human social life participates in a colloidal ‘metapattern’ of repetition and mediation that is manifest across diverse material substrates and spatial scales.

KW - colloids

KW - topology

KW - mediality

KW - materiality

KW - mesoscale

KW - animacy

KW - physical chemistry

U2 - 10.1177/02632764211030989

DO - 10.1177/02632764211030989

M3 - Journal article

VL - 39

SP - 131

EP - 151

JO - Theory, Culture and Society

JF - Theory, Culture and Society

SN - 0263-2764

IS - 2

ER -