Author Archives: stanleyblue

Rhythmanalysis Seminar: Yi Chen

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There is a new seminar series hosted at Goldsmiths and organised by Paola Crespi, Mike Featherstone, and Sunil Manghani called: ‘Rhythmanalysis: Everything You Always Wanted to Know but Were Afraid to Ask’.

Unfortunately, I missed the first session on ‘Rhythm in the work of Gilles Deleuze’ given by Stamatia Portanova. This week’s session, given by Yi Chen, was on ‘Rhythm and Rhythmanalysis’. Yi talked about her book on Practising Rhythmanalysis (2016) and on working with rhythmanalysis as philosophy and method to explore two sites: walking practices in the East End of London in the 1970s and the institutional rhythms of the British postal system in the years immediately after the Second World War.

To get at these two sites, Yi developed and distinguished between two connected concepts of rhythm, as bodily meta-sense and as assemblages of time-space activity.

There was some very interesting discussion about the impact of distinguishing between these two senses of rhythm (as meta-sense and as time-space), for Lefebvre’s project of rhythmanalysis and the potential of what Yi described as a non-essentialist method. Understanding rhythms at different “scales” is something that I have struggled with myself, in exploring immediate and extremely visceral bodily rhythms like the rhythms of martial arts and much “larger” phenomena like the institutional rhythms that comprise hospitals. So it was very useful to think about how and whether this issue needed resolving.

I did have some reservations about the idea of “applying rhythmanalysis”, and about the questions that followed about which methods rhythmanalysis might be best applied to. For me, this comes back to the question of ‘what is a theory?’. I also thought that there was more to say about the idea of eurhythmia and arrhythmia – so I will write a separate short post about that.

The next session has two talks, the first by Paola Crespi on ‘Rhythm in the Work of Rudolf Laban’ and the second by Sunil Manghani on ‘Rhythm and the Neutral’.

Seminar for Anthropology of Health at Durham

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Durham Cathedral from the River Wear on the way back to the train station.

Last week, I gave a talk to the Anthropology of Health Research Group at Durham University on theories of practice and public health.

The beginning of the talk was based on our article in Critical Public Health, tracing some ideas from The Dynamics of Social Practice (2012) and using the example of smoking. Then I extended some of these arguments to talk about the temporal organisation and material arrangements that have underpinned changing ways of eating in the UK over the last 50 years. The slides from my talk are here.

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A great lunch with students in the Physical Activity Lab. Photo from Ben Kasstan @kasstanb

It was great to meet the community of PhD students in the Physical Activity Lab, to find out about all their interesting, and to discuss the significance of shifting research in health towards social practices.

Response to Government Consultation on Future Infrastructure Demand

untitled-pictureWith Greg Marsden and Elizabeth Shove, we submitted a response from DEMAND to a call for evidence from a Government consultation on the structure, operation, and governance of the National Infrastructure Commission.

We responded to this discussion paper on The Impact of Population Change and Demography on Future Infrastructure Demand.

Second Institutional Rhythms and Energy Demand Working Group

On the 7th February 2017, we held the second working group meeting for the Institutional Rhythms project. This time the working group met at Airedale General Hospital and began to develop outputs based on conceptual contributions taken from the project and two practical case examples presented by working group members.

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Jo Davy and Frank Swinton presenting Rapid Improvement work on discharge at Airedale Hospital.

Alexis Keech, Head of Environmental Sustainability for the Yorkshire Ambulance Service, presented on some of the issues resulting from increasing demand for patient transport and on how the service was responding to these increasing pressures. Jo Davy, Head of Quality Improvement at Airedale, presented on work at Airedale to improve patient discharge and flow.

The working group used concepts developed in the first meeting about temporal sequences, cycles, and institutional rhythms to work through potential new opportunities for shifting temporal arrangements to manage and steer demand for hospital services and patient transport.

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Working group members enjoying floorball on a narrow and obstacle filled pitch. But at least it wasn’t forty degrees this time!

As aways there was, of course, time for a (slightly unorthodox) game of floorball!

The third and final meeting of the working group will take place in Leeds on the 23rd May where the group will work on developing further example cases and strategies for disseminating outputs from the project across the NHS.

Click here for more information on the Institutional Rhythms and Energy Demand Working Group process and outputs.

DEMAND Seminar: Giuseppe Salvia

czopxcbxcaag371Giuseppe Salvia, a DEMAND visitor from Politecnico di Milano, and returning visitor to Lancaster, talked about this research on the consequences of smart technologies in reconfiguring everyday practices.The title of his talk was ‘Smart technology vs smarter people?’

He asked whether a renegotiation of competencies from people to things might undermine people’s capacities and remit for action and decision making. With a focus on domestic life and personal mobility, Guiseppe drew on a range of examples of smart technologies from self-driving cars to automated cooking devices to illustrate how smart technologies extended and distinctly shifted debates about the relations between people and things.

Guiseppe argued that what is significantly different in the case of smart technology is that what is delegated is not work, but decision making. He questioned what the implications of such a delegation of competences would be for demand for energy, not only when smart devices and connected systems always have to be on, but when energy saving skills have been fully delegated to machines. Other questions raised in the discussion were about the delegation and distribution of competencies and the extent to which smart technologies signal changing relationships between people and things. There were also lots of interesting parallels and connections to ongoing work in demand including home heating, online shopping, and domestic IT use to mention just a few.

Guiseppe argued that what is significantly different in the case of smart technology is that what is delegated is not work, but decision making. He questioned what the implications of such a delegation of competences would be for demand for energy, not only when smart devices and connected systems always have to be on, but when energy saving skills have been fully delegated to machines.

Other questions raised in the discussion were about the delegation and distribution of competencies and the extent to which smart technologies signal changing relationships between people and things. There were also lots of interesting parallels and connections to ongoing work in demand including home heating, online shopping, and domestic IT use to mention just a few.

Press: The Future of Sustainable Healthcare: It’s All in the Timing

Untitled picture1.pngWhile I was visiting Beyond Behaviour Change and the Centre for Urban Research at RMIT I was asked to write something from the Institutional Rhythms project for the Australian Hospital and Healthcare Bulletin magazine.

This short piece is about the potential opportunities that arise for the future sustainability of NHS hospitals when demand for resources including, energy, transport, and goods are considered as the outcomes of critical intersections in the timings of working arrangements.

The full article is available here.

Publication: The Nexus of Practice

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Nicola Spurling and I have a chapter in The Nexus of Practices: Connections, Constellations, Practitioners which is edited by Allison Hui, Elizabeth Shove, and Theodore Schatzki and was published in December 2016. The accepted manuscript version of this chapter is available here.

Our chapter calls for a practice theory which begins with complexes of practice and not ‘a practice’, and for one that focuses on the relationships between connections (interconnections). Through examples of hospital life, we develop the concept of connective tissue which both holds complexes of practice together and that is itself an essential feature of practices. The chapter argues that connective tissue has multiple qualities. We argue that studying the interconnections between these qualities is the key to understanding change in hospital life, and other complexes of practice, over time.