98.2 Spatiality, materiality and the process of innovation in a regional cluster: The case of an irritating experiment in a structuration-theory-perspective

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 12:00 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Robert J. SCHMIDT , Department of Sociology, Technical University Berlin, Berlin, Germany
The following argument is based on the understanding of social constitution as enduring intersection of presence and absence presented in the writings of Anthony Giddens. Humans are emotionally and physically involved in the bodily production of and production in presence. At the same time they (as competent actors) have the possibility and responsibility to draw on contextual properties that are not physically present at the concrete moment. Both aspects of social life are constitutive for and intertwined in tangible processes and can be separated from each other just analytically. These notions open the perspective for constitutive effects of spatiality and materiality on the enduring flow of nows. The bodily process of production in presence is shaped by non-human elements, like spaces, technical equipment or symbols, like Andrew Pickering and Bruno Latour show. On the other hand the co-presence or presence-availability of other actors plays an important role. All these elements are not constitutive on their pure materiality, but on their structured enactment in social processes.

Based upon this conception of structuration in the second part the case of an irritating experiment in basic research on catalysis is presented. It illustrates how spatiality and materiality of the embedded situation in the regional cluster is shaped by absent totalities of competent actors at the same moment as these totalities are shaped through the process themselves. In the end organizational structures, routines of experimenting and theories of catalysis-research have changed. These transformations cannot be adequately understood without referring to the spatial and material context which is present to the actors. In this story of an innovation we can see the enduring co-constitution of the physical properties of time-space and the contextual knowledge competent actors use to act in these complex situations.