Inventive Life: Approaches to the New Vitalism

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This book demonstrates how and why vitalism - the idea that life cannot be explained by the principles of mechanism - matters now. Vitalism resists closure and reductionism in the life sciences whilst simultaneously addressing the object of life itself. The aim of this collection is to consider the questions that vitalism makes it possible to ask: questions about the role and status of life across the sciences, social sciences and humanities and questions about contingency, indeterminacy, relationality and change. All have special importance now, as the concepts of complexity, artificial life and artificial intelligence, information theory and cybernetics become increasingly significant in more and more fields of activity.
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About the author

For a long time I have had two main areas of research interest: sociology of culture and feminist theory. My contributions to a sociology of culture draw upon the findings of a series of funded empirical research projects, exploring contemporary developments in the culture industry with a special focus on changing cultural forms. Following the publication of the jointly authored book on The Global Culture Industry: The Mediation of Things (with Lash, Polity, 2007), I am developing my research interest in the question of cultural change through my participation in a 20-partner EU-funded interdisciplinary network on ‘A Topological Approach to Cultural Dynamics’. This network – which draws on recent developments in philosophy and mathematical thinking to address questions of cultural and social change, space and intensity – is part of what has been called a topological turn in cultural theory. My ideas on what this might mean are developed in recent and forthcoming publications including the Introduction to a Special Issue of the European Journal of Social Theory on ‘What is the empirical?’, co-edited with Lisa Adkins and an article on ‘Brands as assemblage: assembling culture’ to appear in the journal Cultural Economy (forthcoming). It will also inform the book (co-edited with Nina Wakeford) on Inventive Methods, (Routledge). I continue to be interested in brands and branding (Brands: the logos of the global cultural economy, 2004 as I have found them illuminating objects to think with as well as problematic objects to live with/out. I am enthusiastic about the new MA in Brands, Communication and Culture that is just starting at Goldsmiths (organised by Dr Liz Moor in Media and Communications, but with the involvement of myself and others in Sociology). My contributions to feminist theory primarily concern the issue of gender as a kind of becoming (Prosthetic Culture, Feminism and Autobiography) and the changing significance of gender as a social and natural category (Global Nature, Global Culture). I have participate in the annual conferences and workshops linked to the MA Gender, Culture and Media.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SAGE
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Published on
Jan 19, 2006
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Pages
208
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ISBN
9781473971844
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / Sociology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, NAMED BY THE TIMES AS ONE OF "6 BOOKS TO HELP UNDERSTAND TRUMP'S WIN" AND SOON TO BE A MAJOR-MOTION PICTURE DIRECTED BY RON HOWARD

"You will not read a more important book about America this year."—The Economist

"A riveting book."—The Wall Street Journal

"Essential reading."—David Brooks, New York Times

Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The disintegration of this group, a process that has been slowly occurring now for more than forty years, has been reported with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.

The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually one of their grandchildren would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that J.D.'s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, never fully escaping the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. With piercing honesty, Vance shows how he himself still carries around the demons of his chaotic family history.

A deeply moving memoir, with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.

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