GaWC Research Bulletin 111

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Apparatus of Capture: The Use of Deleuzian Thought and Actor Network Theory to Conceptualise Urban Power Relations

C. Blake


This article acknowledges the work of Richard Smith (2003), (forthcoming), in using Deleuzian thought and Actor Network Theory to depict world cities networks, and yet argues that these theories may do more to analyse the formation of power relations within such topologies than his ontology currently suggests. It consequently aims to examine alternative ways in which these conceptions may be used to study the formation of inequality and conflict within urban landscapes. In this sense it sees 'post-structuralist' accounts of world cities as bringing new insights into, rather than as opposing, political-economy approaches.


Many recent studies on urban relations have been directed at exploring the concept of 'world cities', with this term being used to denote the significance of cities engaging in transfers of information, people and goods in a globalizing political economy. This literature has traditionally described the global positioning of world cities with regards to their significance within structural changes in the world economy. Beaverstock et al (2002) note for instance that Friedman's seminal world city hypothesis was derived from an analysis of industrial restructuring and the 'new' international division of labour in the 1970s. Whilst more recently studies by authors such as Castells (1996) have focused on cities as sites which derive significance from their role in articulating increasingly globalized transactions. This article however concerns two transitions stemming from this literature; firstly a movement from the conceptualisation of a world city 'hierarchy' to a world city 'network,' and secondly a movement from a 'structural' to a 'post-structural' theoretical framework for world city analysis. Literature on the world city 'network' may be illustrated by Beaverstock et al (2002), who argue that world city relations, characterised originally by Friedmann as a hierarchy, in fact form a network topology, where cities depend not on competition but on their inter-connectivity for prosperity.' However these writings continue in some respects to remain within what Smith (forthcoming) has termed a 'political-economy' and structuralist approach, since they concentrate on specifying a rigid economic structure for world city networks. As an alternative, Smith (forthcoming) posits an account of the world city network which emphasises its contingency and instability by drawing on "ideas from post-structuralism, actor-network theory, non-representational theory, and complexity theory".

This 'post-stucturalist' approach emphasis the performativity and transitivity of world cities as the constant enacting of 'events,' as opposed to a more traditional focus of on their role in 'structural' transitions. In part this approach has been influenced by former literature on world cities, particularly the growing interest in the openness and connectivity of world cities created by literature on globalisation and the world city network. However this literature seeks to move beyond former 'structural' approaches to world city networks, since such accounts are deemed to down-play the performativity . Smith (2003) for instance argues that Castell's account of city networks delimits the fluidity of world city networks by concentrating on meta-scales and their set position within structural transitions. Subsequently he seeks to develop an alternative account that emphasises the contingency of the world city network by drawing on both Actor Network Theory and the work of Giles Deleuze. Smith (2003) therefore discusses the use of Actor Network Theory as an alternative ontology for studying world city networks, where the 'finer details' of the networks that form world cities may be examined. Whilst Smith (forthcoming) uses the Deleuzian concept of the 'Body without Organs' to describe the transient, unorganised nature of world cities and thereby accents their fluid nature by developing an ontology in which "all that is solid melts into air".

Post-stucturalist writings on world cities might however be criticised for paying scant attention to issues of inequality and power within 'world cities'. By stressing the ephemeral nature of cities, Smith's (forthcoming) analysis may divert attention from the power relations and fixities that do exist within urban spaces and which form an integral part of even their most distanciated and unstable activities. This article consequently aims to examine the manner in which Actor Network Theory and Deleuzian thought might alternatively be used to analysis the formation of power, inequality and resistance within the city-scape. In this sense therefore it argues against the sharp distinction between political-economic and post-structualist accounts in world city research which Smith (forthcoming) makes. Thereby viewing post-structuralist theory as bringing new insights into, rather than as opposing, studies of the 'political economy' of world cities. Subsequently, the first half of this article attempts to give a theoretical outline of the ways in which Actor Network Theory and the writings of Deleuze and Guattari (1987) may be deployed to examine power relations within cities, paying particular attention to the latter's concept of the 'Body without Organs.' Whilst the succeeding section aims to examine the way in which this ontology may interact with existing literature operating in a political economic framework, to gain perceptions on the formation of inequality and conflict in contemporary 'world cities'.


Defining the 'Body without Organs'

Deleuze and Guattari (1987) define the Body without Organs (BwO) by drawing on two sets of discourses, the first surrounding the discipline of Physics, the second that of Psychology. Both of these descriptions portray the BwO as the site that remains when all attempts at ordering and subjectification are removed. In the homilies of Physics the BwO consists solely of unstructured matter, the universe peeled back to its barest forms. Since matter equals energy, the BwO is occupied only by circulating intensities, it is the "production of the real as an intensive magnitude starting at zero. That is why we treat the BwO as the full egg before the extension of the organism and the organisation of the organs, before the formation of the strata; as the intense egg defined by axes and vectors, gradients and thresholds, by dynamic tendencies involving energy transformation and kinetic movements involving group displacement, by migrations: all independent of accessory forms because the organs appear and function here only as pure intensities", Deleuze and Guattari (1987:153). In the language of Psychology, the BwO is the site where all forms of subjectification which attempt to appropriate or constrain identity are removed. It is also the origin of 'desire,' which may be "defined as a process of production without reference to any exterior agency, whether it be a lack that hollows it out or a pleasure that fills it," Deleuze and Guattari (1987:154). In their ontology desire becomes an emancipatory force, with the potential to create a BwO in which individuals may freely explore their personality. This is facilitated through acts of nonconformity; the schizophrenic proliferation of identity or the Nietzschian Becoming of something 'other'. Freudian psychoanalysis is therefore criticised for seeking to correct transgression through Oedipal explanation, which moreover ascribes the formation of identity to a single cause. In contrast the BwO is a site of multiplicity in which the unconscious is never reduced to singularities; a place populated by migratory packs of Wolfs as opposed to the single Freudian Wolf-man.

The City as a 'Body without Organs'

The concept of the Body without Organs, resting as it does on notions of transient flows, could provide a useful insight for studies that view world cities as constituted from sets of globalized flows. An exemplar of such literature is the work of Castells (1996), who depicts such cities as forming the nodes and hubs of a global 'space of flows.' These flows form part of a transition to a 'network society' characterised by new tele-communications technology and post-Fordist production systems. The significance of world cities in this ontology therefore comes from their position within the networks these flows constitute; in particular their role as a prime location for the offices of trans-national companies and the managerial-elite that staff them. However in Castells (1996) work, a structural logic underpins the explanation of the position of cities in the global 'space of flows', so that the form these processes take is prescribed by the established world-wide socio-economic transition to a network society. This restricts the potential for an explanation of the variations existing within and between cities, reduces the power of human agency, and delimits the possibility of alternative futures. Smith (forthcoming) therefore argues that Castell's work belongs to a 'political economy' tendency to depreciate the fluidity and instability of urban forms through their categorisation to reductive 'structures and processes'. In contrast, Smith (forthcoming) uses Deleuzian metaphors, which he argues involves the purposeful destabilisation of "any force, power, or desire that strives to restrict, capture, fix, manage, redefine, specify or limit the flows that make the world a hotbed of flux and fluidity", in order to encapsulate the sense of the city as a more transient and open entity. Thus by assimilating the concept of the formless BwO, populated only by dynamic tendencies, Smith (forthcoming) seeks to create "a way of visualising the city as unformed, unorganised, and non-stratified, as always in process and so eluding fixed categories". Shields (1996) also views the representation of the city as a Body without Organs as disputing the way in which "the relation between the visible built environment of the city and socio-economic relations is generally conceived of as a relation between surface (appearance) and depth (structural forces). This allows the visible city to be re-presented as an artifact of socio-economic relations." Thus the concept of the BwO may, according to Shields (1996:242), articulate a sense in which "objects must be understood at the ontological level at which they exist as such. They must be understood by their powers, surfaces and effects." Hence the visual features of the city and the flows constituting it exist "on the same epistemological plane with neither having analytical or explanatory priority over the other.", Furthermore Shields (1996: 242) sees the connection of the BwO to forces of 'desire' as a significant one, asking "If the city is a body without organs, what are its constitutive desires?.How is the play of desire as a productive, social force made visible on the face of the urban? If desire is the founding impulse of society, how are to understand the affectual, emotional city". He sees the solution in "a kind of view from the slum", as an alternative to "focusing on the ideally-planned rational city (the view from city hall)", since this can be "closer to reality- to the essence of the urban- than the rational urban representation and ordering imposed by state functionaries", Shields (1996: 242-243).

Viewing the city as a BwO can however be problematic in that by dwelling on the transitivity of networks there may be a tendency to ignore the relative fixities and stabilities which also shape the city landscape. Shields (1996) for instance offers the ontology of the Body without Organs as an antithesis to the "rational city of urban planning.where the 'urban body' has been recoded or represented as a circulatory system of rationalised flows, traffic patterns and functional organ-like zones." However the process of urban planning is one that has had a profound affect in shaping the city landscape, organising its flows and inscribing the city with lines of power. It is thus impossible to ignore of attempts at ordering the city, or the outcomes of discourses that view the city as a functional 'Body' and endeavour to discipline its organs. Yet in creating an ontology in which only fluidities are represented, so that as Smith (forthcoming) says "all that is solid melts into air," any recognition of the city as a site which is also planned and controlled may be lost. The same may be said for Shields (1996: 242) wish to study the city of 'desire,' or the 'emotional city', since in practice this "view from the slum" has hardly escaped from forces of control emanating from "city hall." Moreover, an anti-Oedipal view of identity within the city, with its inscription of multiple rather than singular derivatives, does not mean that these same identities are not inscribed by complex power relations or function through violent rather than harmonic interaction. For 'desire' as a force can also be a destructive entity, capable of greed, jealously, anger and violence.

The City as both 'Body' and 'Body without Organs'

An ontology is therefore needed which can study the urban as an arena of unstable and transient flows, whilst also recognising the present of practices which attempt to control these flows, or the creation of the city as an ordered "Body. " The tendency of past literature grappling with the complexities of the city as a site of both fixity and instability, domination and escape, has been to divide the urban into two opposing frameworks. This can be illustrated by the work of de Certeau, whom Donald (1999) perceives as separating the urban landscape into two, a view from above, representing the elites attempt to order the city, and the labyrinth city below where chaos and disorder reign. This is problematic, in that it does not envision how order and disorder are entangled within the urban fabric, leading a dichotomous view of the city as 'Body' and the city as 'Body without Organs', in parallel to Shields (1996: 252) separation of the "slum" and "city hall". An alternative ontology might be supplied however by the work of Deleuze and Guattari (1987) if a closer reading of their mediations on power relations and the 'Body without Organs' is taken. As although they frame the achievement of the BwO as an emanicpatory goal, their writing is as much concerned with the BwO's susceptibility to processes of ordering or 'stratification' as with its potential to escape from assemblages of control. Hence they describe how the sum of all the BwO's, entitled the 'Plane of Consistency', is embedded between two layers of strata, through which the BwOs are constrained and ordered. The means by which stratification occurs is dependent upon the 'mechanic assemblage', a term used to describe the forms of organisation and control present within a particular society. In short therefore, Deleuze and Guattari (1987) describe in the BwO an ideal site in which complete de- territorialisation and de-subjectification might occur, however in the mechanic assemblage they recognise the forms of coding and appropriation present in society which currently prevent its achievement.

If this ontology strictly divided the mechanic assemblage from the plane of consistency, it might lead to a discourse which like De Certeau's divides the city into the unruly and the ordered, the transient and the permanent. Deleuze and Guattari (1987) are however aware of the ways in which these processes are imprecated in each other. They thus describe how forces of control in the mechanic assemblage extract 'quantum lines' from the BwOs in order to increase their own power, whilst in return BwOs may erupt by feeding off lines of control from the strata. Thus the entanglement between the city as 'Body' and as BwO is recognised, and the urban can be perceived as a site in which the forces which attempt to arrange its organs may still be constituted by, or may form, its most unstable flows. Furthermore, Deleuze and Guattari also identify the complexity of issues which surround both the force of 'desire' and the schizophrenic proliferation of identity, acknowledging that they may not always represent affirmative or positive actions. They thus argue that it is possible to form unemanicpatory BwOs, either "the cancerous BwO of a fascist inside us, or the empty BwO of a drug addict, paranoiac, or hypochondriac," Deleuze and Guattari (1987: 163). The former represents the desire to annihilate others and constructs a proliferating BwO within the strata, a 'terrifying caricature' of those within the plane of consistency. Whereas the latter symbolises the desire to annihilate oneself, a sudden de-stratification which leads only to self-destruction. This therefore is "the test of desire: not denouncing false desires, but distinguishing within desire between that which pertains to strategic proliferation, or else too-violent destratification, and that which pertains to the construction of the plane of consistency", Deleuze and Guattari (1987: 165).

Descriptions of the Urban in "A Thousand Plateaus"

Deleuze and Guattari's (1987) description of the urban in "A Thousand Plateaus" is one which acknowledges that a town is formed from fluid flows and transient networks extending beyond its own borders. In this sense their depiction of the urban echoes their portrayal of the passing intensities constituting the BwO, when they argue that "The town is the correlate of the road. The town exists only as a function of circulation, and of circuits; it is a remarkable point on the circuits that create it, and which it creates..It is a phenomenon of transconsistency, a network, because it is fundamentally in contact with other towns." However they also acknowledge the presence of the town as a bounded site, as a place which gains physical definition through processing and defining these flows. The town therefore "imposes a frequency. It effects a polarisation of matter, inert, living or human; it causes the phylum, the flow, to pass through specific places, along horizontal lines", Deleuze and Guattari (1987: 432) This recognition of the urban as a site of fixity and a site of flow does not however represent a dichotomy in their ontology, rather they are aware that forms of urban control are themselves derived from the towns formation from circulating intensities. This is because power is seen as originating from the town's position as a node in an inter-urban network; in other words, from its ability to "effect a complete but local, town-by-town integration. Each one constitutes a central power, but it is a power of polarization or of the middle (milieu), of forced coordination", Deleuze and Guattari (1987: 432).

Deleuze and Guattari (1987) argue that this source of control differs starkly from that of the nation state, since it dwells on the interior manipulation of flow. The state, on the other hand "operates by stratification; in other words, it forms a vertical, hierarchized aggregate that spans the horizontal lines in a dimension of depth. In retaining given elements, it necessarily cuts off their relations with other elements, which become is a zone of recurrence that isolates itself from the remainder of the network," Deleuze and Guattari (1987: 432). The state therefore gains its sources of control from forming boundaries, vertical lines which create interiors and exteriors, the town on the other hand derives its power through the direction of open, horizontal flows. Since this does not involve the creation of sharp boundaries between the included and excluded, and involves openness to influences from many different sites, it might be inferred that cities possess the potential to be more influenced by principals which respect equality and cultural diversity. Deleuze and Guattari (1987) are however aware that inequality and oppression may also occur through the control of horizontal flows; these are enacted through principles of 'polarization' which work through these flows rather than through the creation of fixed borders. Hence subjugation in the city may continue to exist in systems with façades of equality and "that is why this kind of power has egalitarian pretensions, regardless of the form it takes: tyrannical, democratic, oligarchic, aristocratic. Town power invents the ideal of the magistrature, which is very different from the State civil service sector (functionariat). Who can say where the greatest civil violence resides?", Deleuze and Guattari (1987: 432).

In this description of the urban, it might be said that the city as 'Body,' and as BwO appear to operate in exceptionally close vicinity to each other. In contrast therefore to the nation state, where stratification seems to function in a more exterior relation, mechanisms of control in the city appear to be entangled to a greater extent with the forces populating the plane of consistency. In fact when Deleuze and Guattari (1987) state that the most deterritorized flows may produce the most extreme forms of reterritorization, it is to the example of the urban bourgeoisie that they turn to illustrate their point. Consequently they argue that "the merchant bourgeoisie of the cities conjugated or capitalized a domain of knowledge, a technology, assemblage and circuits into whose dependency the nobility, Church, artisans, and even peasants would enter. It is precisely because the bourgeoisie was a cutting edge of deterritotialization, a veritable particle accelerator, that it also performed an overall reterritorization." Deleuze and Guattari (1987: 221). The inference of this discourse by Deleuze and Guattari (1987) is that the city may be the site of extreme forms of subjugation, with power being operated by those with control over the flows which constitute the inter-urban network. In addition however, since mechanisms of control are entangled closely with the plane of consistency in the city, the potential may always exist for lines of flight to escape. The very source of the strength of domination within the city, through the appropriation of deterritorized flows, also exposes the urban landscape to the constant possibility of proliferating BwOs. Consequently it is the inter-twined nature of the city as 'Body' and as 'Body without Organs' which produces the possibility of it being a site of fixity and transitivity, control and escape, rather than the dichotomous view of the city presented by writers such as De Certeau.

In this view where the city as Body and as BwO entwine, urban residents affected by mechanisms of control may simultaneously be able to initiate a degree of independence, resistance or escape. Deleuze and Guattari (1987) give an example of an identity who processes a certain degree of freedom whilst still being connected to the strata in the figure of the 'journeyman' in the medieval town. Although their movement was grounded in the need to move from one worksite to another, we are reminded "of how extensively the journeymen travelled, building cathedrals near and far, scattering construction sites across the land, drawing on an active and passive power (mobility and strike) that was far from convenient for the State", Deleuze and Guattari (1987: 368) The journeyman thus presents a nomad within the State, useful to the elite but dangerous, always representing the possibility of resistance. The presence of such individual actors within cities may not however be enough to produce a plane of consistency, to free the city from mechanisms of repressive control. For this a wider strategy may be needed in order "to sew up, cool down, and tie together all the BwO's. If this is possible to do, it is only by conjugating the intensities produced on each BwO, by producing a continuum of all intensive continuities", Deleuze and Guattari (1987: 158). Hence although the entanglement of mechanisms of control with lines of escape within the city may currently allow individuals to possess a certain amount of freedom, for greater transformations to occur, radical politics would need to provide a strategy which might "gently tip the assemblage, making it pass over to the side of the plane of consistency", Deleuze and Guattari (1987: 161).

The Use of Actor Network Theory in Exploring Power Relations within the City

In addition to an ontology focusing on the BwO as a metaphor for studying the city, Smith (2003) also looks at the related role of Actor Network Theory (ANT) in describing the specificities by which urban actors may derive power from their control of the networks which constitute cities. Hence Smith (2003) argues that ANT takes an agent led view of networks, ascribing their production to their constant performance and practice by actants. Thus Smith (2003) claims that ANT may "get at the finer details of how networks really work over distance.and the importance of the role of agency, mobile practices, performativity, and contingency to the formation and function of world cities." They may thus be able to illustrate the ways in which networks between distanciated actants may operate through mechanisms of control and coding, which as Deleuze and Guattari (1987) explain allow extreme reterritorization to be present inside deterritorized flows. Given that in an ANT ontology the articulation of networks becomes dependent on the inscription of actants into supporting their processes, so that the more distanciated or fragile networks may require a stronger hold on actants for their support. With the result that power functions, says Murdoch (1995: 747) after Callon (1991: 151), by each actor being able to 'speak for all, and to mobilise all the skills and alliances within the network."

However, this emphasis on what Murdoch (1997) calls networks as "seamless webs," may delimit analysis of the ways in which conflicts may occur between actants within networks. This ignores the possibility for the potential of deterritorization to be contained within reterritorization and the potential for figures like the 'journeyman' to function in relation to the strata whilst also retaining a degree of independence and freedom. Concentrating on depicting power relation within Actor Network Theory in this manner would thus move back towards the feel of Castells (1996) analysis, since it would merely offer a description of the structure rather than the contingency of networks. Instead, in order to give an ontology in which the nuances of the city as both 'Body' and as 'BwO', a more flexible view of the function of power within Actor Network Theory is needed. This would recognise that actants can occupy fluid positions within and between different networks and that the potential for conflict and resistance resides within them. Alternative depictions of Actor Network Theory have therefore been developed which create an ontology surrounding the presence of 'non-conforming' actants within networks. Thus Star (1991:39) for instance conceives of a non-conforming actant operating between categories "and yet in relationship to them." This can be connected to Deleuze and Guattari's (1987) description of 'monsters,' in a chapter where their narrator gradually Becomes part-animal and slides into the infrastructure of the lecture room. However, as in the case of the 'journeyman' we have to ask whether a politics surrounding the partial independence of certain individuals has the ability to tie together separate BwOs and enact wider transformations in society. Or whether a radical urban politics surrounding Actor Network Theory must move toward advocating deeper changes in the networks which constitute world cities for this to occur.


The second half of this article aims to explore the ways in which these alternative readings of the work of Deleuze and Guattari (1987) and of Actor Network Theory can be used to examine the manner in which power, conflict and inequality are generated within contemporary world cities. These themes can been seen to be especially significant at a time when authors such as Sassen (2000) and Zukin (1998) depict an urban landscape characterised by growing inequality. A city sharply divided between those who have benefited from recent transformations in the world economy and those who have been plunged more deeply into poverty. Sassen (2000) therefore describes the disparity in wages produced by the transition to the 'post-Fordist' economy. This has helped to generate what Zukin (1998: 5) describes as places "sharply divided between landscapes of consumption and landscapes of devastation." Those with increasing wealth remodel areas of the city, leading to the proliferation of shopping malls and gentrified neighbourhoods, whilst communities plunged into poverty sink further into despair. This has been aided, claims Sassen (2000), by the decline of Keynesian politics, leading to the deterioration of many welfare services. Davis (1988) in fact describes a scenario in contemporary Los Angeles in which much of the cityscape has become forsaken by government bodies. In this description, the city is formed from 'containment' zones, where inadequate welfare services are provided by NGOs, and 'free- fire' zones where gang warfare and vigilante groups prescribe law and order. Those who can afford to may escape to gated communities protected by private security, so that the city becomes a site of increasing fragmentation and segmentation. The second part of this article subsequently aims to examine the manner in which Deleuzian thought and Actor Network theory might provide new insights into the examination of this inequality and conflict within world cities. It argues moreover that such ontology brings new perspectives too, rather than breaking completely with, the spirit of political economic studies.

For Castells (1996), the growing inequality in the contemporary city is derived from differing access to control of the networks constituting the present world- economy. Hence in this ontology, the separation of insiders and outsiders in regards to these networks has resulted in an "an accentuation of uneven development, this time not only between North and South, but between the dynamic segments and territories of societies everywhere, and those others that risk becoming irrelevant from the perspective of the system's logic." These networks function primarily through the operations of trans-national business corporations and the activities of their managerial-elites, which can be seen to be principally located in 'world cities.' Their operations however are restricted to certain core areas, and urban communities with trans-national connections may be severely disconnected from surrounding neighbourhoods in their resident city. Access to these networks is controlled by cultural 'coding,' so that a growing inequality between those with access to the 'global space of flows' and those outside its pathways marks the contemporary city.

This form of coding by the most distanciated actors in society is one echoed by Deleuze and Guattari's (1987) claim that it is often the most deterritorized actors that produce the deepest forms of reterritorization. However Smith (2003: 36) argues that Castells depiction of the formation of world cities as 'meta-networks' fails to study the "finer details of how networks really work over distance." Smith (forthcoming) claims that "for Castells, globalization is a meta-narrative and cities and networks are reducible to 'surface appearances' that are ultimately subject to the underlying deep structures and forces of political economy." He therefore uses Actor Network Theory and the non-representational theory of Nigel Thrift to call for a study of the "role of agency, mobile practices, performativity and contingency" in the formation of world cities, Smith (2003: 36). This would allow the examination of the manner in which distanciated forms of control, operating through stretched social relations between cities, enables "so few people.[to] seemingly (and seamlessly) cover the world." Smith also notes that by studying the way in which social relations are imbricate in the formation of global flows this ontology contests Castells' dichotomous portrayal of capital as global and labour as local. This is a persuasive argument, in which the role in which contingency and agency is recognised; however in specifying a study of the way in which elites within world cities construct "seamless" networks, alternative conceptualisations of the way in which power may function within networks are delimited. This follows Murdoch's (1997) critique of ANT's insistence on "seamless webs"; with such a focus drawing attaching away from the manner in which conflict and inequality may form an intrinsic part of the functioning of the networks which produce world cities.

In addition to the points raised by Smith (2003), it is therefore interesting to note that both Deleuze and Guattari's ontology and that of ANT can recognise the ways in which disparities can be generated within as well as between networks. Such a view is significant in that it moves analysis away from Castells (1996) argument that inequality within cities is caused by access or exclusion to or from certain networks, towards recognition that disparities occur within these networks. This view prescribes that it is not the ability to exclude certain groups from networks, which grants power to elites within the city, but the inscription of 'other' actants into these networks. Hence when Deleuze and Guattari (1987) identify the influence of the 'merchant bourgeoisie', it is their ability to bring other groups in the city, from peasants to nobles into their networks that brings them their source of power. The same may be said of the managerial-elite of the contemporary world city, in the sense that it is on their ability to bring other actors in the city into their networks, from low paid service workers to urban politicians, that their authority rests. Sassen (2000) illustrates this by showing that low paid jobs in catering, delivery and security are necessary functions for sustaining the operation of trans-national companies and the areas within the city where the managerial-elite dwell. The generation of disparities within wages is not therefore a function of access or exclusion to different networks, but of disparities produced within the networks articulating the capitalist world-economy.

In this ontology the urban landscape is composed not so much out of fragmentary, bounded communities, as out of networks and flows running through the city and connecting its spaces together. Thus even the constitution of gentrified areas by the managerial-elite can be seen to be dependant on networks of discourse and action connecting it with 'other' actors in the city. The complex nature these networks may take can be highlighted through the work conducted by Neil Smith (1992) on the gentrification process in New York. In which areas such as the Lower East Side are marketed as a wild 'frontier' where "glamour and chic are spiced with just a hint of danger", Smith (1992: 75). Thus the gentrifier needs the 'squatter' and 'drug addict', since not only the economic prosperity but the very identities of actants in spaces of power are framed through their reliance on networks linking them to 'other' communities in the city. This process can be associated with Deleuze and Guattari's (1987) claim that power within the city, rather than resting on the projection of borders and systems of inclusion and exclusion, functions instead through the art of 'polarisation', formed through flows themselves. Hence in a networked topology what matters, according to Urry (2000:35), " is what Brunn and Leinbach term 'relative' as opposed to 'absolute' location (1999:xvii). This creates novel inequalities of flow which are constituted as 'tunnels' as opposed to the inequalities of statis."

The operation of this polarisation cannot however be seen to function by simply creating two groups of actants within networks, the advantaged and disadvantaged. Such a binary conceptualisation would parallel that created by perceptions founded on the principle that the city is sharply divided between those included and excluded from certain networks. In actuality, networks may contain ubiquitous actants occupying fluid positions, who like Deleuze and Guattari's (1987) 'journeymen' and 'monsters' operate in relation to mechanisms of control but also retain lines of escape of their own. This can be illustrated by Neil Smith's (1992) analysis of the position of artists in the gentrification process. In the Lower East Side artists can be seen to have a meditating influence in gentrification, since low rents and government subsidy may attract them to an areas, raising its cultural image enough to attract gentrification. Nevertheless they have a ubiquitous role in this process, since rising prices may finally push many artists out of the neighbourhoods and some may therefore support activities from original residents resisting gentrification. At the same time however, artists may benefit from new markets created by the gentrifiers, leading to the presence of oppositional art in mainstream galleries. In this sense artists can be seen to occupy a fluid position in the networks linking gentrifiers with the established community. Thus they may be seen as an example of the non-conforming identities described by Star (1991: 39), in that they operate "between the categories, yet in relationship to them".

In this form of relationship, power and powerlessness are not seen to exist in the city as binary dichotomies, but rather function in an entwined manner within the same networks. This entanglement is one which a revised ANT methodology may be capable of tracing, if it was deployed to give an account of power relations within networks in which control functions through flexible as much as stable relations between actants. In this case these ontologies could be used not just to study the constitution of fluidity in the city, but to study the ways in which power relations are imbricate in these very flows, an integral part of their formation. Such an ontology would consider the ways in which control in the city is dependent on the manipulation of fluid flows, on joining together actants not in stable relations but in relations of flexibility. This can be illustrated by the example of artists in the gentrification process, where their ubiquitous position actually aids the dynamics of capitalism. Since, as Smith (1992) describes, the creation of oppositional artwork by artists in the area can actually be seen to aid the developers in marketing the area as a 'wild frontier'. This process, where the flexibility of networks contributes to the function of capitalism, is one explored on a wider scale by the work of Thrift (2001). Thrift (2001: 376) develops an ontology which uses a "Latourian-cum-Deleuzean notion of political economy" to highlight the necessity of dynamism and instability in the capitalist process. He therefore depicts capitalism as a series of modulations and experimentations through its portrayal as "a series of networks which, though they link in all kinds of ways, do not form a total system", Thrift (2001: 376). In this sense Smith's (forthcoming) use of the quotation "all that is solid melts into air" can be deployed not just to describe the fluidity of world cities, but for its original Marxist connation referring to the dynamism of capitalist forms of production. Concepts connected to Deleuzian thought can therefore be seen to be of particular significance in their connection of movement to concepts of power. They thus provide an ontology in which the fluidity of world cities can also be associated with the power relations they imbibe as centres of capitalist production. In this sense therefore, such an ontology should not be seen as functioning in a separate vein from a political economic account directed at studying the inequalities generated by capitalism, but should rather be seen as adding a new perspective to such an analysis. With Deleuze (1995) for example continuing to identify himself as belonging to the Marxist tradition despite critiquing certain approaches to Marxist analysis.

Identification of this relationship between the fluidity of world city networks and the functioning of capitalist transactions leads also to the recognition that capitalism might be challenged by the unstable tendencies it relies on. Since the flexibility these processes engender may allow opposition to form and the suggestion of alternative forms of political- economic organisation. This opposition is unlikely to occur from actants in Shields (1996) conceptualisation, who wholly escape from mechanism of control, since power relations can be seen to be present throughout the cityscape. However opposition might stem from figures that, as Star (1991) explains, may operate either as non-conforming actants or who hold positions in multiple networks. These actants may experience forms of marginality by being part of networks who do not operate to their benefit or they may operate in a 'high tension' field between different networks. One example of this might be the actions of the artists Smith (1992) describes, who by simultaneously creating resistance art whilst benefiting financially from the patronage of gentrifiers, operate in relation to whilst not completely ascribing to these networks. This illustrates the manner by which the city becomes a site where control and escape are mutually imbricate in the same flows, so that the potential may always exist for forms of resistance even within the flows articulating the most extreme forms of appropriation and coding.

The question remains however as to how far a politics articulated around the individual possession of limited freedoms can be used to proscribe wider transformations within society and to contest the inequalities generated by the capitalist system. Deleuze and Guattari (1987) warn about the re-subscription of lines of flights back into mechanisms of control, and the danger is that deterritorization may remain limited to that which is of benefit to the capitalist system. This parallels Harvey's (1996) concerns on the ability of forms of post-modern politics articulated around fragmentary special issues to affect deeper reforms. Harvey (1996) argues that the resulting politics of difference is consumerized and re-subscribed to the needs of the post-Fordist economy, being used to stimulate saturated markets. In addition to the failure of lines of flight to gain full deterritorialization, threats also exist from the previously described proliferation of fascist BwO's operating on the side of the strata. The formation according to Deleuze and Guattari (1987) of anarchic 'black holes' operating under conditions of both suicidal and Fascist annihilation. Perhaps the presence of these black holes can already be seen in Davis' (1988) description of the explosion of racial violence, vigilante groups and gang warfare in the apparently government forsaken city-scape of Los Angeles. Hence as Deleuze and Guatarri (1987: 228) argue, "a multitude of black holes may very well not become centralised, and acts instead as viruses adapting to the most varied situation, sinking voids in molecular perceptions and semiotics.Instead of our great paranoid fear, we are trapped in a thousand little monamanias, self-evident truths, and clarities that gush from every black hole and no longer from a system, but are only rumble and buzz, blinding lights which give any and everybody the mission of self-appointed judge, dispenser of justice, policeman, neighbourhood SS man."

The question remains open therefore as to how to construct a radical politics in which both the reterritorization of lines of flight and the proliferation of "terrifying caricatures of the BWO" are both avoided. A politics which might 'tie together' and 'cool down 'individual BwOs to create an emanciapatory 'plane of consistency. This politics must aim not to untie areas from the control of certain networks, or take over their own forms of control, as in the operation of Deleuze and Guattari's (1987) 'black holes'; instead it must be about changing the very values enacted within networked relations. Despite past criticism of the radical politics of 'new social movement's from writers such as Harvey (1996) and Castells (1997), hopeful signs for such a transversal politics does exist. As broader coalitions are being formed within civil society around issues dealing with the globalized flows which cities articulate, flows which affect a wide range of people and issues. These can be illustrated for instance by the demonstrations in Seattle in 1999 surrounding the activities of the World Trade Organisation's direction of globalisation. Thus authors such as Castells (1999), who were once pessimistic about the ability of civil society to alter the present configuration of the world-economy, are now more positive about their ability to "grassroot the space of flows. Or in other words, to articulate a strategy which might "gently tip the assemblage, making it pass over to the side of the plane of consistency", Deleuze and Guattari (1987: 161).


In conclusion, this article has sought to discuss the ways in which post-structuralist accounts may be used examine the formation of inequality and conflict within world cities. It thus argues that such an ontology should not be seen as being in opposition to a political economic tradition, but rather brings new insights into the study of the inequalities generated by 'world cities' position within the relations of capitalist production. These insights stem from the manner in which post-structuralist theories may be capable of emphasising the fluidity of world city networks and the reliance of transmuting methods of capitalist production on this flexibility. Consequently, using Deleuzian metaphors and Actor Network Theory to study the formation of world cities can produce an ontology that addresses not just the fluidity of urban relations, but the way in which power relations are imbricate within their constitutional flows. In this theorisation, fluidity does not necessary mean lack of domination, control or inequality; rather they can all operate within topologies based on transient intensities. The significance therefore of urban descriptions by Deleuze and Guattari (1987) is that they link movement with relations of power, since power is seen as constituted through flows rather than vertical structures. The inference of this ontology is that world cities should not be studied as a series of fragmented spatial areas, nor should power be seen as being derived from access or exclusion to certain networks. Rather an examination of the way in which polarisation operates inside the networks linking communities within and between cities should be taken. Such an ontology must also take into account the possibility of flexible relations between actants, which may function both as a source of power for a dominant configuration within the network, and as a dangerous source of instability and transgression. This illustrates the manner in which oppression and resistance cannot be studied as binary concepts within the city; since it is the very inter-twined nature of the city as 'Body' and as 'Body without Organs' which produces the possibility of it being a site of both fixity and transitivity, control and escape.


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Edited and posted on the web on 12th May 2003