Notes on the Social Object.
The first usage in any meaningful sense is from Karin Knorr-Cetina:
- Knorr Cetina, K. (1997). Sociality with objects: social relations in postsocial knowledge societies. Theory, culture & society, 14(4), 1-30.
The entire concept is based on the theories of Jacques Lacan:
“The Lacanian ideas I use serve to specify objectual relations, which I see as the touchstone of an object-centered sociality, as relationships based upon a form of mutuality: of objects providing for the continuation of a chain of wantings, through the signs (what Lacan calls signifiers) they give off of what they still lack; and of subjects (experts) providing for the possibility ofthe continuation of objects which only exist as a sequence of absences, or as an unfolding structure.”
Lacan appeals as Knorr Cetina rejects commodification as a based on an superseded mode of alienation:
“Yet the contemporary culture of “self-fulfillment” hardly seems to be reducible to the phenomenon of alienation. More importantly, what lies at the core of the Marxian notion of a commodity is the alienation from the products of one’s labor. But the properties that characterize objectual relationships in expert work would seem to be exactly the opposite: non-alienation and identification. Thus the concept of alienation is a suspect one when applied to the relationship of an expert to the objects of expertise.”
What if she has misread this understanding of alienation? Is there a richer reading of the social object not as as the denial but the achievement of this alienation?