Codes and codings in crisis special issue


I’ve just started working my way through a special issue of Theory, Culture & Society on ‘Codes and Codings in Crisis’ that was published last year. It was edited by Adrian Mackenzie and Theo Vurdubakis.


So far I’ve just read Mackenzie and Vurdubakis’ opening essay. I’m going to have a got at working through all the articles, for a chapter I’m working on. The introductory essay provides an overview of the issue but it is also written as a standalone piece on the relations between code and crisis.


Mackenzie and Vurdubakis outline some of the different ways in which code has become embedded. This includes some discussion of the coding of the body as well as discussions of the more general ways in which code has become part of the social world. Their argument seems to be that crises of various types find there way into out lives through code. These include financial, ecological and cultural crises. Because code is so embedded it becomes impossible to escape from the implications of whatever crisis is in question. In fact, they argue that these crises actual reside in the code and codings themselves. The claim they make is that these code are rich with moral and thick frameworks that, through the functioning of the software, translate larger issues into individual lives. There’s a really interesting argument here about how the sinking of software into everyday life creates opportunities for larger scale social issues to become part of our personal biographies.

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