review

Cruel fairy tales

Imagine this: A laboratory technician working on an oilrig contacts the national Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), claiming that the oil company she works for is encouraging her colleagues and herself to manipulate with measurements of oil seeping into the sea around the rigs. Before that, she has done everything in her power to make her bosses within the organization listen, but with no luck. What happens? The EPA passes her full name on to the oil company, warning them that a bad press story may be under way.

Seduction by contract

In this accessible and well-structured book Bar-Gill takes a close look at the credit card, mortgage, and cell-phone markets. He shows why contracts in these markets look the way they do, what is wrong with them, and what the law can do to help. Providing a dearth of examples Bar-Gill shows in a detailed analysis how in these three markets externalities, asymmetric information, and misperception lead to biased estimates on the part of customers.

Capitalism unwrapped

In a compelling paper that appeared in 2007, Slavoj Zizek recounted the following anecdote, funny and disconcerting at the same time: Italian leftist journalist Marco Cicala had confessed him that after having submitted an article featuring the word ‘capitalism’, the editor had asked him whether using that term was actually his only choice: in case it wasn’t, why not replacing it with a synonymous, like ‘economy’?

Party organization in the digital age

Well before the publication of Paolo Gerbaudo’s third book, The digital party, I knew that I had to  read it – not only because its subtitle refers directly to my own two major research interests (political organization and digital technology), but also because of Gerbaudo’s reputation as a highly prolific and equally respected scholar.

Disruptor in chief

Bob Woodward’s book Fear: Trump in the White House was one of the most awaited, hyped, and talked about books of 2018 – and understandably so. Woodward has authored or coauthored 18 books, several of which have portrayed American presidents and topped the national bestseller-lists. His previous work, not least with Carl Bernstein at the Washington Post, has earned him fame and acclaim, and has, among other things, been instrumental in starting a process that brought a former president down (e.g. Bernstein and Woodward, 1974).

Weird science and datafication

In August 1910, the American philosopher and psychologist William James was lying on his deathbed in Chocorua, New Hampshire. Just before he died, he told his brother, the great novelist Henry James, to stay near his burial site in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for six weeks after his passing. William wanted his brother to stay close to his resting ground and not travel back to England immediately after the funeral because he wanted to initiate contact with him from beyond the grave (Menand, 2001: 435).

‘Why is a raven like a writing desk?’

Damian O’Doherty’s Reconstructing organization is a wild tale of bob cuts and cats and talking chairs, set within the confines of Manchester airport. Rarely has a steel and concrete waiting room (for that is what airports are to its visitors, if not its employees) seemed more vivacious and colourful. Think Alice’s Wonderland with its strange and curious creatures, the author its likeable, excitable, Mad Hatter.

Molecular Red: Wark’s Marxist-posthumanist perspective on the Anthropocene

What might an engaging Marxist take on the Anthropocene look like today? McKenzie Wark’s 2015 text Molecular Red: Theory for the Anthropocene provides one possible answer for just such a journey (for the journey, he suggests the reader pack an Australian Aboriginal dillybag!).  Before undertaking this trip, the reader should be forewarned that Wark’s writing is theoretically challenging, sometimes daunting and suggestive, so a prior knowledge of Marxist theory and posthuman thought helps with the task at hand.

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