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"Monitoring modernity: A comparative analysis of practices of social imagination in the monitoring of global flows of goods, capital and persons"


"This project aims to study institutions specialized in visualizing society. Such institutions have proliferated in recent decades. From regulatory bodies to auditing institutions and regimes of supervision, from monitoring agencies to surveillance apparatuses, social life is full of reflexive spaces specialized in the visualization of that social life. Much of social theory assumes that societies exist on the basis of a work of imagination, yet very little comparative cross-sectional work exists on such ‘social imagination’. Much can be learned about social life when the institutions it brings forth to observe that social life are observed sociologically.
In four subprojects, this research investigates: 1) How societies are imagined through the visualization of the border between society and nature, particularly in the context of the assessment of global flows of goods in: a) measurements of climate change, and b) the visualization of the economy and its implicit understanding of nature as mediated through production; 2) How economic borders, risks and responsibilities are imagined by the regulation and oversight of global flows of capital; 3) How national societies are imagined by the social scientific measurement of global flows of persons, notably immigrants in the assessment of their integration; 4) How the social space of the EU is imagined by the surveillance of global flows of persons, notably irregular migrants, by means of specialized EU-databases.
This project is innovative in three ways. First, it is the first comparative cross-sectional study of the professionalized practice of the ‘imaginary constitution of society’. Second, it integrates theories and methods from various fields. Third, it renews understanding of the practical assemblage of imagined collectives such as ‘national societies’, and contributes to ‘globalization theory’ by analyzing the everyday routinized ways in which ‘global assemblages’ produce plausible boundaries and localities."

Call for proposal

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Burgemeester oudlaan 50
3062 PA Rotterdam

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West-Nederland Zuid-Holland Groot-Rijnmond
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Patrick Heeres (Mr.)
Principal investigator
Willem Schinkel (Dr.)
EU contribution
No data

Beneficiaries (1)