Coding ‘The Political’

A couple of weeks ago a dozen or so PhD students at the Australian National University’s School of Politics and International Relations –politics rather than political science– presented  in a highly summarised manner their research projects, research questions, hypotheses, and the like. I am referring, of course, to the whole experience of the ‘thesis proposal review’. Most candidates had begun their research no more than 10 to 14 months ago. There were also a couple who were about to complete their projects, and in such cases we heard ‘final thesis presentations’ looking back at what had been done and achieved rather than what was to be done and problematised.

While listening to quite a few of the projects I found myself wondering what was particularly political about the phenomena being researched. That is, how were political objects and political phenomena thematised in these research projects, indeed how they ‘coded’ the political. The reference to coding, ambiguously borrowed from quantitative research, seems apt.

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John Urry’s Societies Beyond Oil

I’m currently reading John Urry’s Societies Beyond Oil. Some kind of review/essay should come out of this.

Urry’s book is good, especially the first couple of chapters where he presents and summarises a history of oil, its usage since 1859, its development as an industry, the power and politics surrounding  it, and, of course, its role in fuelling–as energy–the world, our modern world.

Yet, the following chapters in which he develops post-oil futures, and writes about four possible futures for (mainly Western) societies after oil, seem, perhaps, a touch fanciful.

More soon.