The political economy of pulse: Techno-somatic rhythm and real-time data


In the context of ubiquitous data capture and the politics of control, there is growing individual and managerial interest in ‘pulse’, both in the literal sense of arterial pulse (now monitored through wearable technology) and in a metaphorical sense of real-time tracking (for instance taking the ‘pulse of an organisation’). This article uses the category of ‘pulse’ to explore post-Fordism as a set of techniques for governing rhythms, both of the body and of technologies. It draws on Lefebvre’s work to introduce notions of eurhythmia, arrhythmia and ‘internal measure’ as ways of exploring somatic and organisational life. It then introduces two case studies where the idea and physical nature of ‘pulse’ are at work. These provide an insight into the real-time nature of post-Fordist life, where a chronic sensing of quantities becomes the basis of co-operation, rather than a judgement via measures.

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Foto: Stefan Paulus

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