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Devising affectedness: eco-homes and the making of material publics

Noortje Marres, Goldsmiths, University of London, will give a talk on how eco-homes can be understood as devices for organising publics.

Abstract by Noortje Marres

In this talk, I approach the eco-home as a special kind of device of publicity, one that is now being deployed to materially organise pubic involvement with the environment. What stands out from this perspective are the capacities of domestic appliances, like water cookers, electricity meters and heat pumps, for affectively engaging their users in issues of energy use, climate change, and the sustainable economy. These technologies, which are both informational and material, can be said to enable a particular redefinition of public involvement: IT must now be understood in terms of the socio-material implication of domestic subjects in the proliferation of green issues. In this respect, different theoretical understandings of “affective politics” can be seen to intersect in the eco-home. Post-Foucauldian perspectives on the emotive enrolment of subjects are equally relevant to it as materialist conceptions of the political community in terms of “those who are jointly affected by issues.” However, eco-homes can also be seen to challenge these understandings, to the extent that they activate the experimentalist question, “Are you capable of being affected?” From this standpoint, what deserves special attention are the ambivalences that are currently being built into the eco-home: it serves both as an instrument of the materialization of environmental citizenship, and is a factor in the virtualization of the issue of climate change. In this context, finally, questions can be raised about the affective capacities of social theory itself, in terms of its own responsiveness to the challenges posed by green issues.

Noortje Marres is a Marie Curie Research Fellow at the Sociology Department, Goldsmiths, University of London. Having been trained in science and technology studies, her current research is concerned with material technologies of politics, as deployed in the context of climate change. She received her PhD in Philosophy from the University of Amsterdam, and conducted part of her doctoral research at the Ecole des Mines in Paris. Her thesis was about (neo-)pragmatist theories of democracy and technology, and, drawing on this work, she has published several articles on issue-oriented concepts of the public.


Dr Noortje Marres | talks | www


Date and Time:

24 January 2008 at 12:00 pm


1 hour 30 minutes



Information Systems Research Forum, LSE
Information Systems and Innovation Group
London School of Economics and Political Science
(0)20 7955 7655

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Additional Information:

The Information Systems Research Forum (ISRF) is a seminar series focusing on recent advances in research broadly relating to information and communication systems.

Please note places will be available on a first-come-first-serve basis; registration is not required. The event will take place in Studio Ciborra, 5th floor, Tower One, Clements Inn, at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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