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4 History - Activist formations in radical science & elsewhere

This FoP RoP thread originates in the ongoing history of #radicalscience movements and a reflexive, participant analysis of historical radical science movements in Britain in the 30s and 70s. On this basis it explores the possibility of a radical science/responsible innovation movement in present-day #China.

In this actual historical development, however, activist cultural #formations that are by no means primarily oriented to ‘science’ have had substantial significance. This project attempts to identify these too, and explore the relevance of this analysis to present-day practice in a life of #STS or #P2P-commons  activism.


STS = science & technology studies, an academic research field, embracing sociological, anthropological, historical, policy and management aims in research and in development.

These formations - in the life of one FoP RoP #babyboomer activist - include . . .

  • The British #radicalscience movement of the 70s, following on - but departing markedly from - a movement of ‘Left scientists’ in the 30s and 40s. Currently there's a quetion being considered, of the possibility of a 'third radical science movement'. Here

  • A broad context of 'radical history' being lived and being recognised and 'storied', in both academic and popular ways. Here

  • The Lucas Aerospace shop stewards' alternative corporate plan, and a movement for 'human centred design' and alternative products. Here

  • The Left-Labour #GLC (Greater London Council) of the 1980s, and its roots including the 60s’ Community Development Project (CDP) and the Conference of Socialist Economists (CSE) and the Lucas Aerospace shop stewards’ alternative corporate plan in the 70s. Here

  • The British New Left and libertarian/associationist/feminist socialism of the 60s and a #longrevolution perspective which includes cultural studies as a politicised mode of addressing history-making in-the-small. Here

  • The emergence in the 80s of a radical, #workpractice oriented international #R&D community in Computer Supported Cooperative Work (#cscw). Here

  • The emergence - again in the 80s - of a sphere of 'radical consultancy' and #cultural services more broadly, which at the present time has evolved a globalised network of #R&D in 'social innovation', facilitation of activist practices and #collaborating (notably, through 'platforming'); Here

  • Currently, the global movement for the #commons. Here

These cognate formations broadly involve movements of #radicalhistory, #radicalprofessionalism and politicised formations within the #PMC (professional-managerial class) generally. The PMC has been a controversial focus in the past generation but, optimistic or pessimistic - and regardless of the emergence of 'precarious' PMC work - its pivotal role can hardly be ignored.


Conceptually, in the exploration in this thread, ‘science’ is replaced by the broader notion of rigorous, skilful producing and mobilising of knowledges and capabilities. Specifically, the analysis is concerned with formations of #labourpower and emerging literacy in the cultivation of such formations. Centrally- though by no means exclusively - the analysis is concerned with the contributions of

  • material apparatus and #infrastructure within these ‘cultural’ FoPs (broadly #technologies) and

  • the skilful, literate, post-modern #danceofknowing across fundamental modes of knowing and of mobilising knowledges (that is, formations of labour power).

These stories are told here from a personal history of involvement of one socialist activist (a graduate engineer) across 50 years. As it happens, they're more about about design than science. But the point of the dance of knowing is precisely that all such divisions need to be gone beyond, in a broad, root-and-branch understanding of and movement - of capability and literacy for the commons and the making of FoP in all sectors that are given form by alternative RoP. Sciences, technologies, medical practices, design practices - all are just local (professionally occupied) settings in a continually shifting global movement of class and capital.

This project centrally draws on and contributes to patterns for #capabilityecon within the construction of a #patternlanguage. Within that thread it contributes to addressing the literacies that underlie the discovery, in C20, of #organicintellectual practice and its self-conscious cultivation as a kind of formation, by members of the #babyboomer generation. Also - as a reflection on and cultivation of activist life -  this project weaves closely with thread 5 Walking.


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